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Romania's gold mining dilemma

Monday, August 06, 2012 - 02:20

Aug. 6 - The town of Rosia Montana in the Carpathian mountains in Romania is rich with gold. Canada's Gabriel's Resources wants to build Europe's biggest open cast gold mine there, but the plan has split the town. Many hope for jobs and investment, while others are concerned about the environmental impact. Joanna Partridge reports

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Miners have returned to the streets of Rosia Montana in Romania. Six years after the last state-run gold mine closed Canada's Gabriel Resources is cleaning up old mines. It also wants to build Europe's largest open cast gold mine - and that's given the region a dilemma. The project would make Romania the EU's largest gold producer, potentially bringing thousands of jobs and billions of euros to an economically depressed region. But it also involves blasting four mountain tops to build quarries, relocating villagers, and flooding an area to make way for a chemical waste lake. Garbriel Resources' Romanian unit insists the mining will be done responsibly. SOUNDBITE: SPOKESPERSON OF GOLD CORPORATION OF ROSIA MONTANA'S, HOSU, SAYING (Romanian): "Romania can become the biggest gold producer in the EU, with extremely high benefits for the Romanian state - over 4.2 billion dollars for the Romanian economy and thousands of jobs during a period of around twenty five years." Romania is strategically located between western Europe and the Middle East But it remains the EU's second-poorest nation. There's 40% unemployment in Rosia Montana , and most of the town's 2800 locals support the mine - as does the regional and national government. But some are worried about the environmental damage. Local resident Eugen David thinks the government should focus on tourism and farming instead. SOUNDBITE: ROSIA MONTANA RESIDENT, EUGEN DAVID, SAYING (Romanian): "The authorities, from the local and regional ones to the central government, are responsible for the lack of development which has taken place in Rosia Montana. For 15 years they declared the town an exclusive mining zone without any perspectives for alternative developments. It is therefore normal that the whole population is oriented towards mining." The gold mine project was first suggested 15 years ago. The controversy over it has now reached the capital Bucharest and Greenpeace - their activists stormed the Environment Ministry in January. It's also a big election issue. But that doesn't take place until November and for now many in Rosia Montana remain unemployed and in limbo. Joanna Partridge, Reuters

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Romania's gold mining dilemma

Monday, August 06, 2012 - 02:20