Finland: Gold Mining leads to sustainable tourism. Rosia Montana can do the same.

Written by Catalin Hosu

The Finland story

CNN published a Jim Boulden video documentary on how Finland Arctic Circle mining is helping local communities thrive, evolve and grow. The mine there uses the same technology to separate the gold from the ore as the one we are going to build at Rosia Montana with regard to the strictest standards when it comes to protecting the environment.

The operations in Finland are not just about extracting gold from a tough environment and providing jobs to the people in the northern part of the country; it’s also about building a sustainable tourism industry that will outlast the mine lifespan beyond 2030. The local councils who collect taxes from the mining activity have started investing in expanding the tourism infrastructure by building facilities, hotels, ski resorts and other amenities that will help the community thrive when there will be no more gold or it will become too expensive to extract it. This will enable people to continue to live there and create a bright future for both themselves and their children.

The Finnish mine is a very good example of how mining can positively impact an area inside the European Union while functioning under strict regulations and to the benefit of the local communities it is housed by.

Rosia Montana of tomorrow: green, prosperous and alive

After many centuries when the exploitation was carried out underground, the State-owned company started surface mining, in open pit quarries, in 1970. The closure of the activity, in 2006, left behind an unclean area, deserted quarries and polluted waters. The restart of the mining activity would create jobs, safeguard the economic future of the Rosia Montana area, clean up the local environment, improving water quality and removing existing pollution, protect essential historical sites for future generations and hugely improve the local infrastructure of the area. The investments due to come in via the mining project will transform Rosia Montana into an international and sustainable tourist attraction.

The modern mine proposed for Rosia Montana could remedy the heritage and environmental issues and also become a tourist attraction during its operation as the largest operation of its type in the EU. RMGC plans to start developments in tourism during the lifespan of mining activities, from restoration and refurbishment of Roman galleries and other heritage monuments, to cleaning the water course downstream of the mine. Once mining operations cease, long-term opportunities created by the rehabilitated landscape shall be put for tourist use.  In summary, mining will create directly and indirectly, large-scale business spin offs ensuring the viability of services and facilities needed for tourism. Contemporary mining could therefore become a visitor attraction and act as a key attraction for educational visits (university students studying mining, economics, planning).

The Company has already invested more than US$15 million on extensive independent research on a range of heritage aspects around Rosia Montana – its archaeological sites and other ancient vestiges, the urban environment, the landscape and its cultural traditions. In addition, the Company has funded planning and protective works for the preservation and restoration of surface and underground vestiges of ancient Roman mining to modern times, and to buildings situated in the historic area of the community and the surrounding landscape.  The latest project has been the refurbishment of a derelict town hall into a potential new hotel in the community.

The budget for the cultural heritage valorisation program in the area has provided for:

  • Set-up of Catalina Monulesti Roman gallery as a museum.
  • Restoration of the 41 historical-monument houses in Rosia Montana.
  • Set-up of the historical area of the locality (protected area), including more than 300 houses, for the everyday life of the community.
  • Establishment of a museum facility to present the archaeological findings.
  • Inclusion of the entire protected area and of the restored monuments in the European, regional and national tourism circuit.
  • Follow-up on the preventive archaeology program.

Mining and tourism development are not mutually exclusive but go hand in hand in ensuring long-term sustainable development opportunities not only at national but also local level. The restoration of cultural heritage and the development of a service sector can thus act in support of entrepreneurial growth through a programme of sustainable development.