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Greenpeace led a call from rights groups and artists on Friday for the Romanian government to withdraw a draft law clearing the way for a Canadian gold mine project criticised as environmentally harmful.
Canadian company Gabriel Resources, through its 80-percent owned subsidiary Rosia Montana Gold Corporation, plans to open Europe's largest open-cast gold mine in the Transylvania region, mining gold and silver using thousands of tons of cyanide.
The project will destroy four mountains around the picturesque village of Rosia Montana, and archaeologists warn it will also destroy unique Roman mining galleries.
Last week, Romania's centre-left government approved a bill making it easier for the company to expropriate people's property and granting "exceptional national interest status" to the mine, which aims to extract 300 tons of gold and 1,600 tons of silver.
The legislation, which still needs parliament's approval, contains a rise in royalties for the Romanian state and stricter environmental protection guarantees, the government stressed.
"We call on the government to withdraw this draft law... which violates property rights as well the right to live in a clean environment," Alexandru Riza, campaign coordinator for Greenpeace, told AFP.
More than 6,500 people have signed the group's call.
The Alliance for a Clean Romania, a major rights group, also asked the government to withdraw the bill.
Hundreds of Romanians have signed their online petition, including director Corneliu Porumboiu, winner of two prizes at the Cannes film festival, contemporary artist Dan Perjovschi and Cristina Flutur, who won the Cannes best actress prize in 2012 for her performance in "Beyond the Hills".
"I love nature, I love Romania and I think we can make a change. We cannot tolerate such abuses anymore," Flutur told AFP while taking part in the daily street protests organised in the centre of Bucharest against the mine.
Thousands have taken to the streets of Romania's main cities since Sunday to defend the village of Rosia Montana.