Transylvanian Gold Rush: Ancient Mining Site in Romania May Fall Victim to Mining
The area around the Transylvanian village of Rosia Montana in Romania has been mined for some 2,000 years. But it still contains the largest gold and silver reserves in Europe. Despite widespread opposition, the site may soon succumb to open-pit gold mines.
Rosia Montana in the Transylvanian region of Romania. The site could soon be marred by gigantic open-pit gold mines.
Romania still has many years of fiscal homework to do before it will be able to join Europe's common currency zone. Indeed, it hasn't yet even been included in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, a step preparatory to introducing the euro.
"It is in Romania's interest that the mining of the gold begins as rapidly as possible," said Romanian President Traian Basescu last week. On Monday, he added that "any country that has resources must use them."
But there is a hitch. In order to get to the gold, the village of Rosia Montana, located in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania, would likely have to be completely destroyed. Furthermore, some 200 tons of waste rock would have to be dumped in a nearby valley and some 250 million tons of waste, laced with the cyanide used to extract gold from rock, would be stored behind a huge dam. Many are concerned about potential dangers to the environment.
'We Want to Work!'
With gold prices heading steadily upward, however, their efforts may ultimately come to naught. The Rosia Montana Gold Corp., 80 percent of which is Canadian owned, has said it hopes to extract up to 10.6 million ounces of gold out of four open pit mines it wants to dig in the area. At today's prices, that would be the equivalent of some 18 billion ($26 billion). Up to 1,600 tons of silver are also thought to be contained at the site.
Furthermore, there are plenty in the area who want to see the mine go ahead. Like many rural regions in Romania, jobs in Rosia Montana are few. On Monday, a group of miners gathered at the town hall for a demonstration, Interfax news agency reported. "We want to mine! We want to work!" they shouted.
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