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Romanian government emerges triumphant in legal battle with Canadian mining firm over abandoned gold project

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The Romanian government has won a yearslong legal dispute with a Canadian mining company seeking damages over failed plans to open a gold and silver mine in the Eastern European country.

Gabriel Resources was seeking US$4.4 billion (four billion euros) in damages from the Romanian state, which owned a 20 per cent stake in the mining project in Rosia Montana, a mountainous western region that contains some of Europe’s largest gold deposits.

The Romanian government withdrew its support for the project in 2014. The government said that the ruling late Friday by the Washington-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes ordered Gabriel Resources to reimburse its legal costs for the arbitration case the Canadian miner launched in 2015.

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Romania’s Prime Minister Marcel Ciolacu said it would have been unfair for Romanian citizens to be burdened with high costs a loss would have incurred. “I thank the team of lawyers who represented Romania with professionalism,” he said after the ruling.

The decision came 25 years after Gabriel Resources gained concession rights for the mining project that planned to extract gold and silver over a 16-year period. It would have involved razing four mountain tops, displacing hundreds of families and leaving behind a waste lake containing cyanide, a toxic chemical used in the process of gold extraction.

The project drew strong opposition from environmental and civic activists who helped organize protests that drew tens of thousands of people to Romania’s streets in 2013. Gabriel Resources said the project would have provided jobs in an area where employment opportunities are scarce.

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