| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

UNESCO names Romanian ancient gold mine settlement a world heritage site

On Tuesday, UNESCO added Rosia Montana, a historic Roman gold mining district in western Romania, to its list of world heritage monuments, giving the town a lifeline and complicated a long-stalled mine proposal.

At the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, Gabriel Resources, which had planned to build Europe’s largest open cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, is currently demanding $4.4 billion in damages from Romania for losses related to its halted project.

The government, which has a 20% stake in the project, officially withdrew its support for the mine in 2014 after months of country-wide street protests against it. The company gained concession rights to the area in 1999.

“With joint efforts from officials and specialists Rosia Montana must become a role model of showcasing the patrimony through sustainable development,” Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said on Tuesday, saluting UNESCO’s decision.

The town, which has few employment options and poor infrastructure, could see an inflow of funds after UNESCO’s decision, officials said.

Not everyone was pleased. Rosia Montana’s mayor Eugen Furdui, a long-time supporter of the mining project, said the decision only brought additional conservation costs.

The European Union state first put the ancient Roman mine tunnels and vestiges up for inclusion on the world heritage list in 2016.

Gabriel Resources did not comment on Tuesday’s decision.

The remaining reserves at Rosia Montana — an estimated 314 tones of gold and 1,500 tones of silver – have put the mine at the center of a decades-long dispute between Gabriel Resources and a small group of local people, civic and environmental groups who oppose the company’s ambitions.

Over the mine’s lifetime, the project planned to open four quarries, destroying four mountain tops and wiping out three of the 16 communities that make up the Rosia Montana municipality.

  • Reuters