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Romanian Parliament Rejects Mining Law Amid Protests Against It

Romanian Parliament rejected a mining law that would’ve helped the development of projects including Gabriel Resources (GBU) Ltd.’s Rosia Montana gold mine, as hundreds of people protested against it.

Lawmakers in Bucharest voted 160 to 105, short of the 204 votes needed to pass the law, which envisaged that mining activities must use the most advanced technologies that don’t harm the environment, according to Parliament speaker Valeriu Zgonea.

“I don’t know why the law didn’t pass, because we made many amendments and it was now a modern law that would allow the development of mining projects in a transparent manner,” Crin Antonescu, the head of the liberals and Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s coalition ally, told reporters in Bucharest today. “I assume this project won’t be re-voted but a new law can be resubmitted, we will discuss.”

The law got the endorsement of the special committees of Parliament late yesterday after being rejected by the Senate last month. A few hundred people took to the streets in Bucharest and in Cluj-Napoca, in central Romania, to protest against the law and Gabriel’s mining project, according to Realitatea TV.

Gabriel Resources, backed by billionaire hedge-fund manager John Paulson, threatened to seek as much as $4 billion of damages should Romanian lawmakers vote to oppose its gold mine project in the country, Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Henry said on Sept. 11, adding they have a “robust case.”

Gabriel Resources

Gabriel Resources, also backed by Newmont Mining Corp. and BSG Resources Ltd., has spent more than a decade trying to build the $1.4 billion mine amid opposition by campaigners to the use of cyanide to extract gold. It agreed in August to increase the government’s stake to 25 percent from about 19 percent and accept a jump in mining royalties to 6 percent from 4 percent.

“The law has been rejected probably because some lawmakers considered we didn’t have a proper debate,” Antal Istvan, a lawmaker from the Ethnic Hungarians Party and a secretary at the industry committee that endorsed the law yesterday, said in a phone interview. “Normally, if the law is refiled it should resume the parliamentary procedure and it should be discussed in the next parliamentary session.”

Lawmaker Iulian Iancu, the head of the industry committee and a member of the ruling social-democrats was quoted as saying by Mediafax that “no mining development will start in Romania without informing the public on all the project’s stages and without a transparent auction system.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

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