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Romanians protest for second day against gold mine

Protesters hold banners and shout slogans during the second day of demonstrations against the government's support for a plan to open a open-cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, in Bucharest September 2, 2013. REUTERS/Radu Sigheti

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Protesters gathered in Romania’s capital Bucharest late on Monday for a second day of protests against the government’s support for a plan to open Europe’s biggest open-cast gold mine.

The more than 1,000 protesters were surrounded by riot police as they sat down on the street, tapping plastic bottles on the ground, chanting “United we will save Rosia Montana.”

Canada’s Gabriel Resources Ltd plans to mine 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver in the small Carpathian town of Rosia Montana through its local arm, Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) in which the Romanian state also holds a minority stake.

The planned gold quarries would use cyanide and would destroy four mountain tops and wipe out three villages. Campaign groups say it would destroy ancient Roman sites and could cause an environmental disaster.

Mine supporters say it could bring billions of euros in taxes and many jobs to an economically depressed region, but the project has been stuck for 14 years waiting for a key environmental permit.

The leftist government led by Victor Ponta approved a law last month speeding up the process, with a final vote expected in parliament in September.

On Sunday, protests were held at several cities across the country to oppose the gold mine project and a move to start shale gas exploration.

Some protesters on Monday called for the resignation of President Traian Basescu and of Prime Minister Ponta who said he had made a “brave and controversial decision” to approve the draft law and send it to parliament.

Reporting by Luiza Ilie; Editing by Robin Pomeroy