Mining in Rosia Montana: Creating jobs for Romanians
By Catalin Hosu, the Regional Communications Manager for Rosia Montana Gold Corporation
Without local jobs, young people flee, creating an enormous drain on a community and its ability to survive. This issue is well understood in Romania, a country which has attracted considerable press attention on the issue of emigration and the subsequent flight of labour from Romania, particularly when EU barriers are lifted at the beginning of 2014. One area of industry which has seen significant job outflows over the last few decades is that of natural resources. For years, Romania’s traditional mining communities have struggled to find work in their local communities, following the closure of the majority of the country’s mines in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.
A recent article, published on mining.com on 2 November 2013, highlighted the gravity of this problem in Aninoasa, a Romanian town which has recently declared bankruptcy following the closure of a coal mine, its only major employer, seven years ago. Since this time, almost every young person has left in search of jobs elsewhere. This constitutes a very real threat to other areas of Romania, where the once active employment of the mining industry has dried up, leaving in its place no viable and sustainable alternative.
Romania has a strong mining tradition, with more than 2.6 million people living in around 600 mining communities throughout the country. However, by 2006 about 80% of the 650 mines that were operating in the early 90s had been closed (to meet EU accession criteria) and since then more than 200,000 jobs have been lost, with less than 8,000 new jobs replaced through alternative job creation programs. According to the World Bank, despite having the highest proportion of rural population in the EU (45%), Romania also has the highest incidence of rural poverty, standing at over 70%. Clearly something needs to be done to create jobs for this rural population.
Rosia Montana is one of these rural communities, with unemployment of around 65% (a number that would be even higher if not for the employment created by the hundreds of millions of dollars already invested by Rosia Montana Gold Corporation). Mining operations in Rosia Montana alone will create some 7,000 direct and indirect jobs during its construction phase and around 3,600 direct and indirect jobs during its operational phase. Most of these jobs will be in the immediate vicinity of the mine and will be given to Romanians.
One only needs to look to local opinion to understand the support for the re-commencement of modern mining in the area. In a December 2012 referendum, 78% of people living in Rosia Montana who voted in the poll supported the construction of the gold mine – an unsurprising number, given the vast benefits that will be derived from the project on both a local and national level.
As one of the poorest countries in the EU, Romania needs to harness its strong mining tradition by creating a modern, environmentally-sound and sustainable mining industry. The Rosia Montana project has the potential to create thousands of jobs and to generate over $24 billion for the Romanian economy (at an assumed gold price of $1,200/oz), whilst maintaining the highest environmental standards and ensuring a sustainable future for the area. This could be the standard bearer for a revitalised, modern mining industry in Romania, providing local communities with much needed reasons to stay.