Business & Technology

Cabinet okays open-pit gold mine in Carpathians

The Romanian government gave the go-ahead to an open-pit gold and copper mine in the Erdélyi Érchegység/Munții Metaliferi/Ore Mountains in the Western part of the country to international corporation Samax Romania, despite repeated protests from environmentalist group Mine Watch Romania.

The 20-year concession allows the investors to mine 200 tons of gold at a value of $3.7 billion and 625 thousand tons of copper at a value of $1.8 billion, putting the total value of the project at $5.5 billion. The investors will have to pay the state a 6% mining concession on the gold and 5% on the copper to a total $300 million. The mining project will involve  94 square kilometers in the Roșia Poieni region  in the now picturesque area environmentalists fear will be disappear forever.

Despite repeated requests from environmental groups, the government – claiming it was classified business information – denied to release the technical documentation of the project.

Environmentalist fear the project will leave a gaping wound such as the one in nearby Verespatak/Roșia Montana, where there was a large copper exploration from the 1960s to the 1980s during Communism. This is what that abandoned are looks now:

Copper mine in Verespatak
Abandoned open-pit copper mine in Verespatak

The above image alone cannot convey the scale of the pit, so below is an enlargement of the central lower third of the image, with two large excavators, roughly 15 meters in height:

Roșia Poieni

And this is what Roșia Poieni looks like now:

Roșia Poieni

The owner of the project is reported to be Swiss businessman Jean-Claude Gandur who has made his fortune through mining projects in Nigeria, Congo, Gabon, Iraq and the Ivory Coast.

Title image: the Ore Mountains region.

Author: Dénes Albert