ECONOMY

Romanian gold mine to reopen

LONDON – Canada’s Gabriel Resources said on Thursday gold production at its Romanian mine was expected to start in about three years as environmental and archaeological issues could be settled soon. Alan R. Hill, president and chief executive, said the company was expected to submit a new environmental impact assessment (EIA) to the Romanian government by the first quarter of 2006 and could get a construction permit in the first half of next year. The first gold could pour in late 2008 or early 2009, he told a gold conference organized by RBC Capital Markets. The Rosia Montana project has come under fire from ecologists and neighboring Hungary. Romania’s former government had opposed the project, under which output has been planned at almost 500,000 ounces of gold annually. Mining in the area dates back to Roman times and has continued ever since, creating a vast network of tunnels. Hill said the company had spent $20 million to date on the project. The project, one of the 10 largest undeveloped gold deposits in the world, also requires thousands of villagers to relocate. Hill said the project would benefit Romania as it would provide jobs, diversify the local economy and provide much-needed revenue. The project has also come under attack from groups that fear damage to nearby archaeological sites. The company has spent some $8 million funding an archaeological program.