How would the mine impact the local patrimony?

Written by Gabriel Resources

Roșia Montană is a 2,000-year old mining community where people and mining have co-existed since ancient times. Mining has created the local heritage and, until recently when the majority of mines closed, turned the entire area of the Apuseni Mountains into an important economic centre of Romania. Without mining, people are leaving the area in search of greater social and economic opportunities and, consequently, the town of Roșia Montană is becoming deserted and gradually degrading.

RMGC is committed to the rescue and maintenance of the cultural heritage and to solving the existing environmental issues that have arisen from the historical unregulated mining activities. Modern mining will be a building block to the future of Roșia Montană, just like mining has been for its past.

Key Facts:

The over US$30 million investment made by RMGC to date has been used to carefully excavate and preserve approximately two miles of Roman galleries beneath the historical and protected centre of Roşia Montană, to build a mining museum in the historic village centre, to restore old civic buildings (a school and a town hall) and to scope the proposed preservation and restoration of over 300 houses in the historical centre.

Over the past 15 years, RMGC has facilitated a major rescue archaeology programme in Roşia Montană.  Modern using state-of the-art research methods and techniques, including aerial photography, satellite imaging, GIS mapping and ground penetrating radar – all dedicated to uncovering Roşia Montană’s cultural heritage. This intricate work has involved over 80 independent experts, 250 workers and support staff, and some 23 national universities, museums, and other international institutions. All such activities have been conducted to the highest cultural management standards and in compliance with EU and international best practice.

Significant archaeological discoveries are being preserved in place (including Catalina-Monulesti, Para Carpeni, Piatra Corbului and Jig Vaidoaia), while others will be carefully and safely moved and exhibited in the new mining museum complex that is part of RMGC’s Community Development initiative. The Romanian National History Museum acts as coordinator of this extensive preservation project.

Archaeological research was conducted in the Catalina-Monulesti complex of underground galleries. Some 140km of galleries have been researched throughout the area, some dating from Roman and Medieval times but with the majority dating from the modern era.  7 km of galleries were identified as belonging to the Roman age and parts of these have become accessible to visitors following restoration works undertaken by RMGC.

Roşia Montană now benefits from the modern Mining Museum established by RMGC. The first exhibition in the museum opened in February 2010, titled “Gold of the Apuseni Mountains”.

Of the 300 houses in the historical centre of the town proposed to be restored, restoration efforts for 20 of the houses have already been completed, and these houses have been put into service. Moreover, 110 restoration projects have either already been completed or are awaiting implementation as soon as the development phase of the mining project commences.

RMGC has also been working on restoring iconic civic buildings of Roşia Montană including the building of the Old Mayoralty of Roşia Montană, a project with a total cost of US$1.5 million. In partnership with the local authorities, RMGC will establish a hotel in the Old Mayoralty, once the mining project starts. Another iconic building of Roşia Montană is the old school house, which will also be rehabilitated to its former beauty.

rehabilitated - city hall - Rosia-Montana 2

York Archaeological Trust CEO and former CEO of Oxford Archaeology, David Jennings, a key contributor to the Roşia Montană heritage preservation effort, believes that “the project has been executed in a professional manner and it attains standards of practice that are at least comparable with those undertaken on other major European projects. In a number of areas it is performing well beyond the normal expectations of developer-funded projects.” Mr. Jennings has also recognized the importance of RMGC’s efforts in better understanding ancient mining techniques due to the large scale of the research project, classifying it “in the upper tier as regards international best practice.” Edward O’Hara, General Rapporteur for Cultural Heritage for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 2004, concluded, following an examination of the proposed project, that “The RMGC project would appear to provide an economic basis for sustainable development of the whole area, with positive benefits on environmental and social as well as cultural grounds. From the cultural heritage point of view it might be seen as an exemplary project of responsible development.”

From an archaeological perspective, RMGC will continue to invest in its underground restoration research and in-situ preservation works for tourism purposes at the Catalina-Monulesti galleries. In addition, it intends to establish an archaeological park in the Carpeni and Tau Gauri and to undertake archaeological research initiatives in the Orlea perimeter areas. Replicas of mining technologies used in the past will also be made for display at the Mining Museum. Furthermore, all excavation works undertaken during the construction, operation and closure phases of the mining project will be done under archaeological mining, through the Chance Finds Protocols.

Even outside of the footprint of the mining project, RMGC will invest to support the research efforts conducted to learn about ancient, medieval and modern mining activities in the Apuseni Mountain in areas such as Zlatna, Almasu Mare, Bucium and Brad. Investments will be directed for tourism maintenance through the research, preservation and restoration of the Balmatesti fortification and nearby towns will also see investments for rehabilitation of their historical centres.

All these activities will enable Roşia Montană to become a real tourist attraction in Romania and in Europe, and, to this end, RMGC will assist in establishing tourism facilities and amenities in the historical centre of Roşia Montană such as hotels, coffee-shops, and restaurants. The aim is to establish a mining museum complex of reference in Europe and an integrated tourist route for all protected areas, to be included in national and international circuits, so that the community in Roşia Montană can develop.