BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Thousands of people blocked a major road in downtown Bucharest on Sunday to protest plans to create what would be Europe's biggest gold mine.
Protesters marched past government headquarters yelling, "Your treason is measured in gold!" Demonstrations also took place in other cities, including the city of Cluj, where thousands called for the 2,000 year-old site where the open-cast mine will be located to be listed as a UNESCO heritage site.
Canada's Gabriel Resources has been trying to gain permits to go ahead with the planned mine in northwest Romania's town of Rosia Montana for 14 years. The site has been mined for precious metals since at least Roman times, though work there stopped a few years ago. The Canadian company's approach would be far more efficient and involve razing four mountains. It is expected to fully extricate all the gold and silver in a couple of decades.
The mine is believed to contain 314 tons of gold and 1,500 tons of silver. Protests against the plans began after the government sent a law to parliament on Aug. 27 calling on lawmakers to give their support to the controversial project. A vote is expected in the coming weeks.
Opponents of the mine criticize plans to use cyanide in the extraction process, while others say Romania would earn too little from the project. But supporters argue that the project would create jobs for unemployed miners and provide vital foreign investment to a deprived area. The Canadian company has pledged to protect the environment and historical monuments in Rosia Montana.