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'Cyanide Equals Corruption' -- Gold Mine Plan Brings Romanians Onto The Streets

For more than a week the Romanian capital, Bucharest, and other large cities have seen mass protests against a proposed gold-mining project in the Transylvanian village of Rosia Montana. Protesters are opposed to plans by Canada's Gabriel Resources Ltd to level four mountain peaks and three villages to extract gold and silver. The historical and cultural impact aside, what shocks and angers many are plans by the company to use thousands of tons of toxic cyanide in the extraction process. Nerves are still raw from a catastrophic cyanide spill in 2000 near the city of Baia Mare that propelled an estimated 100 tons of cyanide into the Somes River that eventually found its way to the Danube. The spill was regarded as Europe's biggest environmental disaster since Chornobyl in 1986.

The capital Bucharest was the focal point for more than a week of protests. Here a demonstrator holds a flag reading "Save Rosia Montana" (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)
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The capital Bucharest was the focal point for more than a week of protests. Here a demonstrator holds a flag reading "Save Rosia Montana" (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)

Much of the animus that fuels the protesters is aimed at the government itself, which many Romanians regard as corrupt and out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)
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Much of the animus that fuels the protesters is aimed at the government itself, which many Romanians regard as corrupt and out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)

While the protests were mostly peaceful, riot police were occasionally called in. Here police in Bucharest detain a demonstrator. (EPA/Mihai Barbu)
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While the protests were mostly peaceful, riot police were occasionally called in. Here police in Bucharest detain a demonstrator. (EPA/Mihai Barbu)

The Rosia Montana site has been used for gold mining for centuries. Here an employee of Gabriel Resources' local subsidiary stands inside a mineshaft from Roman times. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)
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The Rosia Montana site has been used for gold mining for centuries. Here an employee of Gabriel Resources' local subsidiary stands inside a mineshaft from Roman times. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)

An employee for the local subsidiary of Gabriel Resources visits a Roman-era gold mine in Rosia Montana. Protesters fear the company's mining plans will wipe out centuries of mining heritage. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)
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An employee for the local subsidiary of Gabriel Resources visits a Roman-era gold mine in Rosia Montana. Protesters fear the company's mining plans will wipe out centuries of mining heritage. (AFP/Daniel Mihailescu)

Supporters of the antimine protests hope the people power galvanizes a growing Romanian environmental movement. Here a girl holds a placard during a demonstration in Bucharest. (EPA/Robert Ghement)
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Supporters of the antimine protests hope the people power galvanizes a growing Romanian environmental movement. Here a girl holds a placard during a demonstration in Bucharest. (EPA/Robert Ghement)

Spurned by years of what some consider corrupt and ineffective government, many Romanians have lost faith in their leaders to make positive changes. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel)
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Spurned by years of what some consider corrupt and ineffective government, many Romanians have lost faith in their leaders to make positive changes. (Reuters/Bogdan Cristel)

Some in Bucharest view their demonstration as part of the wave of people-power protests seen around the globe. Indeed, "The Arab Spring, the Turkish Summer, and the Romanian Autumn" has been adopted as a slogan by some. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)
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Some in Bucharest view their demonstration as part of the wave of people-power protests seen around the globe. Indeed, "The Arab Spring, the Turkish Summer, and the Romanian Autumn" has been adopted as a slogan by some. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

An antimining demonstrator beats a drum in protest as they march on downtown streets in Bucharest. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)
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An antimining demonstrator beats a drum in protest as they march on downtown streets in Bucharest. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

The protesters look like they might have won this one, at least in the first round. Prime Minister Victor Ponta said this week parliament was likely to reject the mining project. Gabriel Resources says it will pursue an expensive lawsuit to protect its plans. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)
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The protesters look like they might have won this one, at least in the first round. Prime Minister Victor Ponta said this week parliament was likely to reject the mining project. Gabriel Resources says it will pursue an expensive lawsuit to protect its plans. (Reuters/Radu Sigheti)

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