Gold for February delivery, the most actively traded contract on the Comex, fell $9 to settle at $1650.9 an ounce.
The continued protest by Romanians over the proposed grant of a mining permit to dig gold and silver from Europe's largest gold mine to be given to Canada's Rosia Montana has led Romanian President Traian Basescu to suggest on Tuesday the holding of a referendum on the issue.
He proposed the holding of the public consultation in 2014, which would delay further the development of the gold mine, while Gabriel Resource, the mother company of Rosia Montana, was hoping for a November 2013 approval by the Romanian Parliament.
Mr Basescu actually gave the green light to the Canadian miner last week, but said the approval needs the assent of Parliament.
However, Romanians are against the venture because of the use of cyanide in gold extraction. To express their disagreement, about 2,000 demonstrators occupied on Sunday the Victoriel Square, which they repeated on Monday to push the Basescu government to reverse its stand.
The protesters sat down on streets of the capital city of Bucharest and tapped plastic bottles on the pavement while chanting, "United we will save Rosia Montana."
The mine is located in the Carpathian town of Rosia Montana, the same name adopted by the subsidiary of Gabriel Resources, where it plans to extract 314 tonnes of gold and 1,500 tonnes of silver yearly.
To mine the town's resource, the Canadian miner would have to level four mountain tops and wipe out three villages, which campaign groups objected because it would ravage ancient Romanian sites and could possibly trigger an environmental catastrophe.
Rosia Montana has been waiting for 14 years to secure the environmental permit, but local residents vow to oppose the entry of the Canadian miner even if it would mean loss of royalties and employment opportunities with the company.
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