Economy

Szeklerland rare earth mines Romania’s ticket EU-wide battery alliance

In an effort to attract investments from international companies looking to expand battery production, the Romanian government is allegedly re-opening three mines rare Earth mineral mines located in Szeklerland. A further 527 mines will be re-opened by the end of the year, Economy Minister Niculae Badalau said earlier in June. However, he must have forgotten to check the to-do list and calendar when making such statements, geologist Dr. István Márton suggested in an interview with Transindex.

The minister’s statements were accompanied by pictures of heavy equipment working on re-opening the Orotva/Jolotca “mines” producing rare metals such as europium and dysprosium, suggesting that the “opening ceremony” was successful. The mines were closed for the best part of three decades.

Márton is skeptical about the success of the “re-opening,” saying that what the minister mentioned as rare earth mineral mines in Orotva/Jolotca are, in fact, tunnels. The site was the scene of exploration between the 1970s and 1990s, but since then the exploration undertaken there has been mostly scientific research, which has included surface surveys, research trenches, deep drilling, and deep-level exploratory tunnels. “I wouldn’t call them mines, as a tunnel is not a mine, although it is made with the help of mining equipment,” Márton said.

He also questioned the minister’s expertise in the field: “How can you open 530 rare earth mineral mines in a year?” he asked, highlighting the lack of institutional background for such a procedure.
In other words, the hope is high for Romania to join the European battery network through Radioactiv Mineral Magurele SA, but the reality tells a different story than what might be on paper on the minister’s desk.

Title image: heavy machinery at work in Orotva/Jolotca. Image source: Cotidianul