Thursday, July 19, 2007
In mid-June, we went for the weekend to Rosia Montana, a very old and famous mining town in the Apuseni Mountains. Currently it is a very controversial place, and much discussed in Romania. It has been a mining town since Roman times, and is one of the oldest occupied places in all of Romania. You can even visit Roman mine there that is 1000 years old. Throughout the communist period it was mined by the Romanian government, but that mine closed down a couple of years ago. Now, a Canadian corporation is planning to build the largest cyanide mine in Europe there, which will displace most of the population of the town. I suppose I am a bit one-sided about this, because my organization is working on environmental issues in the area, but many people are concerned about cyanide in the water, especially because from here it could potentially flow into Hungary and down the Danube. Anyway, there is a lot of information out there about this, if you go to Rosiamontana.org there is a bunch of information. Anyway, visiting the site was a very nice experience, and also a sad one. Lots of poverty exists there and the people don't know who to turn to or who to trust, it seems. The company offers them jobs and some economic support, but also wants them to leave their town and move centuries-old churches and cemataries. Some organizations are working on eco-tourism, but that clearly is not as lucrative as gold mining. A very difficult spot for the people of Rosia Montana. Luckily, they get to live in a beautiful place, for now.