Tensions running high over gold-silver project at Roman-era site

The villages around Rosia Montana have seen better days

The Times and Democrat reports in the ancient town of Rosia Montana in Romania (pictured), tensions are running high between supporters and opponents of the proposed gold mine by Canada’s Gabriel Resources.

Gabriel Resources in its latest financial results showed it has accumulated over $175 million in cash and equivalents to move ahead its Transylvania project in an area where galleries used by Roman miners during the first century still exists.

It has been more than a decade since the company first obtained the Rosia Montana concession, believed the be one of the richest in Europe, holding some 10 million ounces of gold and 65 million ounces of silver, and it needs several more endorsements, zoning permissions and reviews before it could start mining.

The Canadian firm has faced protests since receiving an archaeological discharge certificate from Bucharest authorities in July. The site was a Romanian state-owned operation during the Soviet era and the government retains 20% of the project. Gabriel Resources has set aside $35 million for what it calls “rescue archaeology” and millions more for environmental rehabilitation of the open pit site where extensive acid rock drainage has taken place over the years.

The Times and Democrat spoke to supporters and detractors of the project:

Ileana Bordeianu, of the Pro-Dreptate mining union, says that without mining the future of Rosia Montana is bleak. “It’s what we have been doing for 2,000 years,” she said, dismissing dangers of a cyanide spill and evoking ancient traditions of gold mining in the area.

Indrei Ratiu, a British-Romanian co-founder of Pro-Patrimonium, Romania’s national heritage society, says “You have to get the balance right between conservation and development, but the gold mine project goes too far.”

MINING.com explored the rich history of Rosia Montana and the Gabriel Resources project in 2008 in a feature article by Dan Oancea, a geologist who worked at Rosia Montana.

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