The government approved on Thursday a bill that allows Canada-based Gabriel Resources to start mining activities in Rosia Montana, putting an end to a 16-year deadlock.
The bill is part of a wider government program that aims to create jobs and attract around EUR 10 billion in fresh foreign direct investments this year. The mining project is estimated to generate around 2,300 jobs in the construction stage and 900 in the mining period.
MPs are set to debate the bill this autumn when the Parliamentary holiday ends, according to PM Ponta.
The Rosia Montana project has been on the table of government representatives since 1997 but any decision regarding the project was inexplicably put on hold.
The government gave the green light after increasing its stake in the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) miner by five percentage points to 25 percent.
Authorities spinned-off earlier this year state-owned miner Minvest Deva – the minority shareholder in RMGC – to Minvest Rosia Montana to hold a direct corporate interest in the project company.
Gabriel Resources has also agreed to pay more in royalties for the gold and silver it extracts from Rosia Montana. Royalties were raised by two percentage points to six percent and the government has the option to be paid in gold.
The Rosia Montana project was declared of public utility and of “special national interest” by the government.
According to a draft document seen by Mediafax newswire, the building permit for the mine should be issued by year end and mining works should kick off in November 2016.
The government said the Canadian investor pledged to protect the cultural heritage of Rosia Montana site and ensure the environmental protection of the area. The project is pending final approvement of the Ministry of Environment.
Critics of the project claim the Rosia Montana area can survive by promoting tourism and small businesses, not through cyanide mining.
According to company estimates, the Rosia Montana deposit bears around 300 tons of gold and 1,600 tons of silver.