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The last lifeline for Gabriel Resources Ltd.’s controversial mining project in northwestern Romania went dead on Monday, after a parliamentary commission voted down a draft bill which would have allowed Europe’s largest open pit gold mine to move forward.
The rejection of the draft bill, which would have finally set out a course for development of the mine, came after 14 years of waiting for permits amid mounting political turbulence.
The news sent the Canadian mining company’s already-depressed stock down 10%, or 9.3¢ to close at 82.7¢ on the Toronto Stock Exchange Monday. Jonathan Henry, the chief executive of Gabriel Resources, however, said he was “confident” there could still be “a potential path forward” for the project.
The draft bill specific to Rosia Montana was rejected, he said, but Romania may go forward with a general gold and silver mining bill which could leave the door open for Gabriel’s project, he said Monday.
“It doesn’t mean the plan is dead in the water. What they have said is that they believed that a project that was as complex as our project shouldn’t go through as a separate bill,” he said.
Still, the permitting process for Rosia Montana has started and stopped several times.
The Whitehorse-based company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars trying to develop the gold project — which involves extracting tonnes of gold and silver using cyanide in the town of Rosia Montana — since the 1990s, but has faced vicious opposition from anti-mining activists.
Debate has been fierce over whether the foreign investment and jobs created by the mine in northwestern Romania would outweigh the environmental costs, and whether the country was earning too little from the deal. Gabriel, fighting back, even helped fund a documentary called Mine Your Own Business. The film portrayed the anti-mining activists in a negative light, suggesting the mine is needed to create economic activity in an impoverished part of Romania.
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