ABSTRACT.- Risks and Chances in Mining Industry in Munţii Apuseni. In the southern part of Munţii Apuseni, also known as the „Golden Quadrilateral“, gold has been excavated since ancient times. Especially the Romans were interested in the amount of gold mined here. Most productive was the deposit at the village Alburnus Major, today called Roşia Montană. Also during Hungarian times gold mining was very successful and attracted many workers from abroad. They all settled in Roşia Montană, which is documented by six different churches in the village. But gold mining became increasingly unproductive. In 1970, the state-owned company Minvest introduced an open cast pit. At an auction organized by the National Agency for Mineral Resources, together with the state-owned Minvest in 1998, a Canadian Company, owned by a Romanian ex-patriate businessman, purchased an exploration licence for Roşia Montană. A feasibility study from 2001 shows deposits of 315 t of gold and 1,630 t of silver. The estimated land use for the gold mining project amounts to about 2,818 ha for pits, waste dumps, the processing plant, tailings management facilities and a buffer area. The villages of Roşia Montană and Corna with around 935 residential properties will have to be relocated. For recovering the average of 1,6 g of gold in 1,000 kg of ore the carbon-in-leach-process, better known as cyanide mining, will be used. One part of the local population, together with NGOs for environmental protection, scientists and journalists, has organised a campaign against this project because of different risks which it entails: environmental, economical and social risks and loss of historical places of Roman times are perceived as much more dramatic than the estimated and promised benefits on a local and regional level. The extensive land use prevents other kinds of regional development, e.g. in the field of tourism. On the other hand, however, there are local people who are eager to participate in the economic development promised by the gold mining company for this less-favoured region in Romania. It is difficult to evaluate the risks and opportunities of the project presented in this paper, but if sustainable development is to mean more than just a rhetoric phrase, then the gold mining project in Roşia Montană cannot be licensed by the Romanian government.
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