The Finnish mining perspective
As the debate over Roşia Montană continues, what are the lessons from other countries where extensive gold mining has taken place? Seppo Maula is the former mayor of Kittala in the rural far north of Finland, where one of Europe’s largest gold mines started commercial production in 2009.
Mr. Maula states:
“When the gold mine at Kittila was in the planning stages, we consulted everyone – local residents, business owners, even reindeer herders. Because I was Mayor of Kittala at this time, and had been for twenty years, I knew everyone and could speak to everyone.
There was high unemployment and young people were leaving the area. There was no future for them. We received overwhelming support for the gold mine project from the locals, and it has been a big success for us, and now there are plans for another mine here. That is welcomed by local residents too. They call it ‘our gold mine’. I expect the project to keep producing for perhaps another forty years and that is good news for us. It’s been a great success for the local community.
“Romania has a tradition of mining going back to the Romans. This is a chance for that industry to have a new start.”
I have been to Romania and seen the Roşia Montană site. The situation there is very much the same as it was in Kittala before the mine came, which is why local people in Roşia Montană support the project. They have no jobs. Many mines in Romania were closed following the country’s membership of the European Union in 2006. The water quality is bad, there is poor power supply, and we saw rivers running red with pollution. This is because of the way they used to mine gold, with no consultation, and no proper regulation. All that will change as the new mine gets under way and the Roşia Montană area will be cleaned up.
There is no need to worry about safety or environmental concerns, and especially not about cyanide. Our mine uses cyanide too. The rules in Finland are very strict, and Romania is bound by the same European Union regulations as we are. With these rules in place I’m satisfied from our own experience in Kittala that there will be no problems.
The problems which do exist are purely political, in my opinion. If the Roşia Montană project cannot go ahead because of such objections, what will the leaders of Romania say to the young people who cannot find work and must leave their homes?
Romania has a tradition of mining going back to the Romans. This is a chance for that industry to have a new start.”
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