Cyanide scare causes 1000s to protest fracking, gold mine

2013-09-02 07:20
Fracking protestor.

Fracking protestor. (AFP)

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Bucharest - Thousands of people took to the streets of Romania on Sunday to protest against shale gas exploration and a controversial Canadian gold mine project using cyanide.

Protesters also lashed out at the government and the president for supporting these controversial projects.

In Bucharest, between 4 000, according to the police, and 7 000 people according to organisers, walked between the central University Square and the government building, shouting slogans against a gold mine project planned by Canadian company Gabriel resources in the village of Rosia Montana, in the heart of Transylvania.

The open-cast mine would be the biggest in Europe, according to the company.

The project has triggered fierce opposition as the mine would use an average of 12 000 tons of cyanide a year in a leaching process and threaten to partially damage Roman mining galleries.

Draft law

The company says European environment regulations will be respected.

"We don't want cyanide", protesters, mainly young people and families, shouted.

In the evening, they organised a sit-in on one of Bucharest's main avenues, partially blocking traffic.

"We hope we can save Rosia Montana", said Irina Enea, a jewellery designer who came to protest with her husband and two children.

"We are angry because the right to a safe environment is violated and because the government adopted a draft law saying the mine is of national interest", she added.

Romania's government on Tuesday approved a draft law granting national interest status to the Canadian gold mine project.

The draft law will have to get approval from Parliament to be valid.

Protests also took place in several other Romanian cities.

In Barlad (north-east), more than 3 500 people gathered to protest shale gas drilling plans by US giant Chevron.

They oppose the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" which involves injecting huge amounts of water, mixed with sand and chemicals, at high pressures to break up rock formations and release the gas.
Read more on:    fracking  |  environment
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