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Romania’s Idled Mines to Reopen Amid Law Change, Minister Says

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Feb. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Romania, holder of coal, gold and uranium reserves, plans to reopen shuttered mines as investor interest grows, Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian said.

The government will draft a law in the next two weeks to allow coal and nonferrous-metal mines to resume operations, Vosganian said today in Bucharest. The legislation is also aimed at speeding up the mine-licensing process, he said.

Romania closed outdated coal and uranium mines after joining the European Union in 2007 because they failed to meet environmental standards. Investors have renewed interest in the nation’s mining industry as resources elsewhere become depleted.

New technologies and private funds may allow mines to reopen, according to Vosganian. “We’ve been noticing an increase in investor interest in the last two or three years,” he said. Gabriel Resources Ltd.’s Rosia Montana gold mine isn’t covered by the draft law and “needs to clarify its environmental criteria,” he said.

The country approved the suspension of 550 mines at the end of 2009, according to data from the Economy Ministry’s website.

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

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

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