Romanian Controversial Gold Mining Project Loses License

Published: 25 June 2024

Beny Steinmetz Cyprus LarnacaBeny Steinmentz (L) in Larnaca, after the Supreme Court of Cyprus refused to allow his extradition to Romania. (Photo: Christodoulos Mavroudis, OCCRP)


Romania did not extend the exploitation license of a gold-mining company whose once significant shareholder was Beny Steinmetz, an Israeli billionaire and mining magnate sentenced for organized crime and corruption.

The license to exploit gold at the Roșia Montană mining region was granted in 1999, but the Romanian government refused last week to extend it for the Roșia Montană Gold Corporation (RMGC) when it expired on June 20.

The government has not provided any reason for not extending the license, stating only that the decision was made after evaluating documents and correspondence with the company.

Gabriel Resources, a Canadian company that owns RMGC, said on Tuesday it will challenge the government’s decision, calling it “erroneous” and politically motivated. The company intends “to vigorously pursue all legal avenues” to restore the mining rights, according to a statement given to

Initially, the plan was to extract some 300 tonnes of gold from the site, but the project was stalled and the mine shut down after massive protests by environmentalists between 2013 and 2015. Now, the area is a UNESCO heritage site, featuring the most significant, extensive, and technically diverse underground Roman gold mining complex known at the time of inscription.

Steinmetz, who has been accused of corruption in six countries and convicted in Romania and Switzerland, acquired 16 percent of Gabriel Resources through an offshore company and a foundation in 2009. His share has since decreased.

The billionaire has been the subject of a series of OCCRP investigations.

In 2015, Gabriel Resources sued the Romanian government at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an independent arm of the World Bank Group that offers a venue for resolving disputes between private investors and sovereign countries.

In its claim, Gabriel Resources accused the government of not playing fair because it blocked the company from mining the gold. Gabriel Resources requested US$4.4 billion in compensation, but the ICSID rejected their claim in March this year, stating it found no grounds for compensation.