01/31/2012 08:57 EST | Updated 04/01/2012 05:12 EDT

Canadian company's gold-mine plan sparks fresh protests in Romania

BUCHAREST, Romania - Greenpeace activists stormed the Romanian environment minister's office Tuesday and two people chained themselves to a radiator to protest a controversial gold mine in Transylvania.

About 30 protesters entered the building in the morning demanding answers about the mine planned by Canada's Rosia Montana Gold Corp., environmental minister Laszlo Borbely said. Critics claim the project is dangerous because it uses cyanide, but Borbely told reporters he will not approve the project unless it is environmentally safe.

The protesters, who stayed almost five hours in the ministry before leaving peacefully, declined an offer of coffee and mineral water, Borbely said.

The project's supporters say it will bring hundreds of much-needed jobs and vital foreign investment.

President Traian Basescu, a vocal supporter of the project, said Tuesday the mine was important because it would create jobs in Romania, which has seven per cent unemployment. Rosia Montana says the mine will employ 880 people once it is fully operational. The site is believed to contain about 300 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver.

In neighbouring Hungary, Greenpeace activists placed a coffin stuffed with dead fish outside the gates of the Romanian Embassy in Budapest in a protests against the mine.

The gesture was to commemorate the 12th anniversary of a cyanide spill in a gold mine in the Romanian city of Baia Mare, which killed huge amounts of fish and wildlife in Hungarian rivers.

The activists called on the Romanian government to reject permits and ban the use of cyanide in gold mining.