Romania’s Ponta Urges Vote to Reject Gold Mine Project

Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta urged lawmakers to vote quickly on rejecting plans for Europe’s biggest gold mine as a majority of politicians oppose it and protesters hold nightly demonstrations.

Parliament should “quickly vote” on whether to drop Gabriel Resources Ltd. (GBU)’s Rosia Montana mine project as opposition appears insurmountable. Crin Antonescu, the head of the junior ruling coalition National Liberal Party, and opposition leader Vasile Blaga called for the project to be killed, while the ruling Social Democratic Party is split. A London-based spokesman for Gabriel Resources declined to comment.

“There’s no point in wasting time, I want to make sure that the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies vote on the rejection and then this project is closed,” Ponta said. “I don’t want the government to be responsible for contracts undertaken by previous cabinets.”

More than 8,000 people took to the streets yesterday in Bucharest for an eighth day to protest against the use of cyanide in gold mining, according to news website hotnews.ro. The protests followed the government’s approval last month of a draft law that would allow development of the mine in the country that suffered one of the continent’s worst environmental disasters from a 2000 spill.

The project should be rejected as it lacks public support, which overrides any technical data stemming from the development, Antonescu told reporters earlier today. The statement is a personal opinion and doesn’t reflect the stance of the Liberal Party, which has yet to agree on a common view, he said.

Last month, Gabriel Resources said if parliament adopted the bill -- which increases the state’s stake in the mine to 25 percent and raises its royalties by half to 6 percent, it would be able to accelerate its development of Rosia Montana and other mining projects.

The company expects to get parliamentary approval as soon as November, Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Henry said on Sept. 2 in a telephone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Irina Savu in Bucharest at isavu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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