ROSIA MONTANA, Romania (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A battle over plans to build a huge gold mine in Rosia Montana, a Romanian village boasting intact Roman mining shafts and 18th century houses, has moved to an international stage, sparking residents’ fears that the project could be resurrected.
Sitting atop one of Europe’s largest gold deposits, Rosia Montana has for 15 years been at the center of a battle between villagers and Canada-listed mining company Gabriel Resources.
Gabriel Resources said the $1.5 billion project to build Europe’s largest gold mine would provide a major boost for Romania’s lagging economy and create hundreds of jobs for the Transylvania region – the legendary home of Dracula. But local residents fear the mine would destroy historic Rosia Montana, surrounding hillsides, and pollute the local environment with cyanide used in the mining process.
Opposition to the mine sparked nationwide protests in 2013 described as the biggest since the early 1990s anti-communist marches and, facing pressure from locals and international environmentalists, the government blocked the mine.
Gabriel Resources has now moved the fight to the World Bank’s international arbitration tribunal to seek a reported $4 billion in compensation – about two percent of the Romanian economy – for the stalled project.
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