Canadian miner may sue if Romania blocks gold mine

Canadian miner Gabriel Resources warned Monday that it might file suit if Romania's legislature votes to block its project for a massive gold mine in the country.

Gabriel said in a statement that it is seeking confirmation of reported statements on the project by Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta and other ministers that the parliament would reject a draft law that would enable its investment in the mine, after public protests against it.

"If the draft legislation is rejected then the company will assess all possible actions open to it, including the formal notification of its intentions to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties," Gabriel said.

Last month Romania's center-left government submitted a bill that would make it easier for the company to expropriate people's property and grant "exceptional national interest status" to the Rosia Montana mine in the Transylvania region.

The project would establish Europe's largest open-cast gold mine, from which the company says it aims to extract 300 tonnes of gold and 1,600 tonnes of silver.

But on Monday Ponta said the controversial legislation backing the mine was in trouble, after a week of mounting protests against the environmental and social impact of the mine.

"A majority of lawmakers are opposed to the draft law so it will be rejected," Ponta told reporters.

Activists worry that the use of cyanide will poison groundwater and open-cast mining will destroy four mountaintops around Rosia Montana and unique Roman mining galleries at the site.

Gabriel said Monday that the government had approved the draft law on August 27 and argued that "recent polls illustrate a majority of support for progression of the project across Romania."