Romania’s new leftist government, expected to gain parliament’s backing on Monday, pledged a moratorium on shale gas exploration and will analyse whether to continue with Europe’s largest open-cast gold mine project.
Prime Minister-designate Victor Ponta also confirmed previous pledges to work with the International Monetary Fund and to restore public sector wages after they were cut by a quarter in 2010 to keep the country’s budget gap under control.
The governing programme, sent to Reuters on Friday, promised “the immediate institution of a moratorium on shale gas exploration until the finalising of studies which are currently being undertaken at the European level”.
The previous government, toppled in a confidence vote last week, awarded Chevron Corp exploration rights for three blocks of 670,000 acres (270,000 hectares) in Constanta province by the Black Sea in March.
So far protests against the major U.S. energy company’s plans have involved only some thousands of people in Romania, but neighbouring Bulgaria as well as France have halted all exploration for shale deposits due to environmental concerns.
It will also investigate whether a plan by Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), majority-owned by Canada’s Gabriel Resources Ltd, is in the national interest.
The project aims to use cyanide to extract 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver in the western Romanian county of Alba but has dragged on for 14 years, still needs an environmental permit and has drawn fierce opposition.
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