Romanian gold mine commission delays report to next week


BUCHAREST, Oct 17 (Reuters) - A Romanian parliamentarycommission has delayed by a few days a report on a controversialbill intended to allow Canada's Gabriel Resources Ltd to set up Europe's biggest open-cast gold mine.

Gabriel Resources Ltd has been waiting 14 years for approvalto use cyanide to mine 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes ofsilver in the town of Rosia Montana. The state also holds aminority stake in the mine.

The government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta this yearproposed a bill to speed up the project by setting strictdeadlines for the approval process.

But the bill triggered countrywide protests against themine, with thousands of Romanians staging weekly protests in thecapital Bucharest and elsewhere.

In September, parliament set up a commission to assess thebill and told it to report by Oct. 20. Now, members of thatcommission say their report will not be issued before the middleof next week.

"There are two or three articles that need a final vote ...which will probably happen in the middle of next week," saidAttila Korodi, a member of the commission.

"The bill has been changed so that ... the law now appliesto all metal mining projects, not just to Rosia Montana. All theprovisions would still be applicable to the project."

Once the commission issues its opinion, the bill will gobefore other parliamentary committees before being put to a votein both the Senate and the lower house.

One of the bill's provisions would grant the mine "nationalinterest" status, which would make it easier for the company toexpropriate the few locals who oppose the plan, somethingcritics say is unconstitutional.

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