Verespatak gets UNESCO World Heritage status

The site of the Roman mine from Verespatak (Roşia Montană) was inculded at the UNESCO World Heritage Site List, Tian Xuejun, the President of the Extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee announced on Tuesday. This status favors those who oppose the ressumption of gold mining in the region, Hungarian news portal, maszol.ro reports.

The mine from Verespatak, based on the proposal of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), was also included on the List of World Heritage in Danger. This means, that the ICOMOS also proposes the establishment of an international expert committee, which would specify the steps necesarry to preserve the site, the steps which would allow to remove the site from this list.

The proccess of inclusion of Verespatak on the World Heritage List started 9 years ago. Photo: news.ro

The Verespatak mining site was included on the World Heritage List exactly 65 year after Romania acceded the UNESCO agreement, the National Heritage Institute of Romania announced on a press release. In Romania, the Danube Delta, the monastery in Horezu, the monasteries from Moldavia, the castle from Segesvár (Sighișoara), the wood churches from Máramaros (Maramureș) and the Saxon fortress churches were already included on the list of UNESCO.

President Klaus Iohannis immediately greeted the decision. In his opinion, Verespatak should be an example of the demonstration of local heritage and of sustainable development of mining through the coordinated efforts of the authorities and experts. The Save Romania Union and the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (USR-PLUS) party, the second largest party of the governing coalition stressed in its press release that by the decision of the UNESCO the local community got an opportunity to develop based on the conservation of the heritage, maszol.ro reports based on Hungarian news agency, MTI.

Verespatak might have the largest gold reserve in Europe. Photo: g4media.ro

The mayor of Verespatak, liberal politician Eugen Furdui was not satisfied with the decision. In his opinion, the inclusion of the mining site on the World Heritage List does not favor the inhabitants of the settlements. The mayor also added, the UNESCO decision holds back the mining of the largest gold reserve in Europe, and the authorization of constructions in the settlement will also be more bureaucratic.

Barna Tánczos, Minister of Environment Protection, who was in Verespatak to review the damages done by the floods from last week, thinks this decision provides an opportunity for sustainable development of tourism in the area.

The inclusion of Verespatak on the World Heritage List started 9 years ago, when, based on the proposal of the heritage committee the Romanian Ministry of Culture and Environment Protection announced the Paris center of UNESCO that Romania has added Verespatak to the list of sites proposed for World Heritage recognition. However, after winning the elections in 2016, the Social Democratic Party has removed this proposal. Former Prime Minister, Mihai Tudose justified this gesture by stressing that the inclusion of Verespatak on the List would have negative impact on Romania’s interests in the lawsuit with Gabriel Resources. This company from Canada filed a lawsuit against the Romanian State, demanding that the latter pay $4.4 billion in damages, for not being able to open their planned mine – that involved cyanide technology – for 15 years.

At the beginning of 2020, the government led by liberal politician Ludovic Orban reopened the proccess of the inclusion.

Author: Orsi Sarány