Thousands of Romanians demonstrated on Sunday both for and against a planned Canadian gold mine that would use cyanide in the extraction process. The project would create the biggest gold mine in Europe, razing four mountains to make way for an open pit mine.
Supporters say the mine would bring vital jobs and investment to the deprived area in northwest Romania. But opponents say it will present an environmental risk.
"Save Rosia Montana," some 2,500 protesters against the mine shouted in the Romanian capital, referring to the town where the mine would be and where gold has been mined for more than 2,000 years. The AFP news agency put the turnout in Bucharest at closer to 8,000.
The anti-mine protesters in Bucharest's University Square urged lawmakers not to pass legislation that would approve the mine as a "special national interest" creating foreign investment and jobs in the deprived area. They later blocked a main road in the city.
An estimated 6,000 people rallied in the city of Cluj, which is near the mine, also urging parliament to block the legislation, Mediafax news agency reported.
In the town of Rosia Montana, thousands of miners used their annual rally on miner's day to urge parliament to allow the mine to open, saying it would create jobs and investment, local authorities said. Rosia Montana Town Hall put the turnout at 10,000 people.
For the past week, there have been protests in Bucharest and other Romanian cities against the draft bill the government has put forward that would allow Canadian company Gabriel Resources Ltd. to mine gold and silver there after 14 years of seeking approval..
Last Monday, Romanian President Traian Basescu said he would not rule out holding a referendum on the proposed mine sought by the Whitehorse-based firm.