12 years, 7 CEOs and $500 million later Europe's largest mine may finally get built

Europe's biggest mining project may be approaching the finish line after a dozen years of opposition and delays, and could enter its final stage late next year, a Rosia Montana Gold Corp executive told Reuters on Friday.

Rosia Montana is majority-owned by Gabriel Resources which have spent more than $500 million under no fewer than seven different CEOs advancing the project since the Canadian firm first obtained the concession in 1999. It is believed the be one of the richest deposits in Europe with 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver and where mining activity dates back to the 1st Century.

Reuters quotes Dragos Tanase, director of Rosia Montana Gold: "We hope that somewhere in the summer-autumn of next year we will be in the final stages of applying for the building permits needed for the mine."

The company still need several more environmental and safety approvals and has to acquire more land to establish an open-cast mine (pictured) which once in production will be Europe’s largest producing 500,000oz/year.

The company proposes four gold quarries over the mine's lifespan, which would destroy four mountaintops and wipe out three villages of the 16 that make up Rosia Montana located in the Transylvania region of Romania, while still preserving the historical centre according to Reuters.

MINING.com reported at the end of August Romania's Environment Minister ordered Gabriel to set aside $160 million in environmental guarantees. Gabriel has also set aside $35 million for what it calls “rescue archaeology” at the site where Roman galleries can still be seen.

Gabriel Resources (TSE:GBU) closed higher on a generally positive day on the markets on Friday, brining its gains so far this October to more than 30%. Its market value on the Toronto bourse is $2.6 billion. The Romanian government owns a fifth of Rosia Montana Gold Corp and is looking to renegotiate its profit-sharing arrangement with Gabriel Resources.

If Rosia Montana should go ahead, analysts say the company would become a takeover target for larger players with more financial muscle – the mine would take in excess of $1 billion to build.

Three other Canadian companies – Valhalla Resources, Carpathian Gold and European Goldfields – are active in Transylvania. The world’s largest gold miner Barrick Gold Corp has a 9% stake in Carpathian it picked up in July and has an exploration deal with Valhalla.

MINING.com explored the rich history of Rosia Montana and the Gabriel Resources project in 2008 in a feature article by Dan Oancea, a geologist who worked at Rosia Montana.