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Lower cyanide level in Romanian gold mine to cost millions
BUCHAREST, Sept 23 (AFP) Sep 23, 2011
Reducing cyanide levels in the tailings pond of a future Romanian gold mine would cost "several dozen million dollars", a manager of the Canadian company seeking to exploit it told AFP.

Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), which is 80 percent held by Canadian firm Gabriel Resources, wants to use cyanide to extract 300 tonnes of gold from an open-cast mine in Rosia Montana, a picturesque Carpathian mountain village.

In August, Romanian Environment Minister Laszlo Borbely, who has still to give his green light to the project, asked RMGC to drop the proposed cyanide level in its tailings pond.

The firm is currently planning to reject waste with a maximum cyanide content of 5-7 milligrams per litre, RMGC vice-president in charge of environment Horea Avram told AFP.

"After the ministry's requests, we discussed with our experts and we analyzed the possibility to reduce the cyanide content in the tailings rejected in the pond to a maximum of 3 mg/litre. Of course, this implies significant costs", Avram said.

"We are talking about several dozen million dollars", he added, stressing that these were early estimates.

The pond will be located in the Corna Valley, not far from the village.

The company is planning to invest $1.7 billion (1.2 billion euros) in the project, which has drawn criticism from environmentalists, archaeologists and historians.

Romania's President Traian Basescu recently said he was in favour of the project provided that profit sharing is renegotiated.

Neighbouring Hungary is opposed to the mine. The country keeps a bitter memory of a cyanide spill in a Romanian gold mine exploited by a joint Australian and Romanian firm in 2000, when the rivers Tisza and Somes as well as the Danube were polluted.

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