Romania parliament rejects new mining framework

Reuters

* Gabriel Resources spent 14 years waiting for approval

* Critics say mine development could damage environment

* Project says aims to create jobs in poor area

BUCHAREST, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Romania's lower house ofparliament rejected revisions to general mining legislation onTuesday that could have enabled Canada's Gabriel Resources to proceed with plans to build Europe's largest opencast gold mine.

Gabriel has been waiting for more than 14 years for approvalto use cyanide to mine about 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnesof silver in the small Carpathian town of Rosia Montana. Thestate holds a minority stake in the mine.

Hundreds of protesters gathered before the vote outsideparliament as well as in the northwestern city of Cluj, chanting"Save Rosia Montana" and asking lawmakers to vote against themining changes.

Earlier this year, the government of leftist Prime MinisterVictor Ponta approved a law designed specifically for theproject, which triggered countrywide protests and led parliamentto struck down the bill.

The assembly then revised legislation for the mining sector,including provisions that would have applied to the gold mine.Gabriel said it hoped parliament would pass them quickly,allowing it to begin work next year.

But the changes were not approved on Tuesday in the lowerhouse, which had the final say, as the required quorum was notmet.

The government could choose to approve a new bill for thegold mine, or parliament could draft new legislation at a laterdate, but for now the proposed gold mine is on hold.

Gabriel Resources did not immediately comment. It hasestimated Romania would get $5.2 billion in taxes, royalties,services and jobs, or roughly three quarters of overall benefitsfrom the project, an estimate challenged by protesters and NGOswho oppose the project.

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