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Gabriel Resources wants Romania to move quickly on new generic mining law

A woman holds a sign reading "We're watching you. United we save! Save Rosia Montana!" in front of Romania's Parliament palace in Bucharest November 11, 2013.

BOGDAN CRISTEL/REUTERS

The chief executive officer of Gabriel Resources Ltd. says it needs quick progress on a new mining law in Romania or the company will be forced to do "something radically different" with its controversial gold project.

A draft bill that specifically would have allowed the Rosia Montana project, one of Europe's biggest gold mining projects, to go ahead was rejected by a Romanian parliamentary commission last week.

The project has faced significant opposition over its planned use of cyanide to extract the gold and silver from the ore, and years of debate on the value the foreign investment and jobs would bring to the country's economy.

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However, a report by a special committee of the chamber of deputies and the senate in Romania proposed a broader legal framework for gold and silver mines, such as Rosia Montana.

Gabriel Resources CEO Jonathan Henry said Tuesday that the company's shareholders are running out of patience.

"We need to see that the new generic mining law that has been talked about is making its way through parliament and making its way through parliament on an expeditious basis," Henry said in an interview from London.

"It can't be two steps forward and one step back for the next six, nine or 12 months. We need to see Romania making a clear vision for itself to move forward with a modern mining industry."

He did not say what "radically different" would mean, but said the company was looking at all of its options.

"Today, we're being very supportive of the Romanian government in all of their dilemmas and we still spend a significant amount of money in the Romanian economy, but we need to see an expeditious solution that allows us to bring this project forward," Henry said.

Gabriel has been waiting for 14 years for permits for Rosia Montana.

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In 2009, the company estimated the initial capital cost of the project would total $876-million.

The company, which has spent about $550-million so far, currently estimates it will cost $1.5-billion (U.S.) to bring the project into production and cash-flow positive.

Rosia Montana has reported resources of 17.1 million ounces of gold and 81.1 million ounces of silver, and is held by Rosia Montana Gold Corp., a Romanian company that is 81 per cent owned by Gabriel.

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