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Thousands of Romanians protest Canadian gold mine project

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Romanians protest against a Canadian gold mine project in the city of Cluj-Napoca on September 15, 2013.

Thousands of Romanians have staged demonstrations against a controversial Canadian project that would open Europe’s largest gold mine in the country.

On Sunday, approximately 4,000 people, who were carrying Romanian flags, marched in the capital Bucharest to show their opposition to the project, chanting “United we can save Rosia Montana.”

Demonstrators are against the plans by Canadian company Gabriel Resources to mine in the village of Rosia Montana in the region of Transylvania.

“I am here in defense of the environment and the cultural heritage of Rosia Montana but also because I am sick and tired of the way politicians treat us,” said one of the protesters.

In addition, some 2,000 protesters rallied in Cluj-Napoca, commonly known as Cluj and the second most populous city in Romania, chanting, “Rosia Montana is the heart of Romania.”

“Even if turnout is lower because of fatigue and bad weather, the people’s message is clear: they will keep on protesting until the Rosia Montana project is withdrawn and a law banning environmentally harmful mining projects is adopted,” AFP quoted Mircea Kivu, Romanian sociologist, as saying.

Critics warn that the project would damage the environment, as the Canadian company plans to destroy four mountaintops and wipe out three outlying villages in the area.

The project would also involve using an average of 12,000 tons of cyanide a year to mine, which is 12 times more than the amount used in the mining industry in the entire European Union.

Experts have said that the area holds an estimated 314 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver.

The demonstrations erupted on September 1 after the Romanian government approved a draft law granting national interest status to the Canadian project.

The government gave the approval after it received a bigger stake in the project by the Canadian company, which has been waiting 14 years to receive permit for the mine.

The recent weeks of protests forced the Romanian government to postpone a parliamentary vote on the bill until November. Prime Minister Victor Ponta has agreed to form a special committee to examine the project.

Meanwhile, the demonstrators chanted slogans against the US oil giant Chevron’s plans for shale gas drilling in eastern Romania using the controversial “fracking” technique.

The controversial drilling technique involves injecting large amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break rock formations and release the gas. The protesters say the exploration technique will poison their land.


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