Gold vs. Green:

What Will Romanians Choose?

April 23, 2014  |  By Irene Chirtas, Romania

Gold vs. Green:

We went hitch-hiking all the way to Rosia Montana.When we finally got to the village we were wet and exhausted ,but we had to walk though the forest to the main stage. It was dark and cold but we heard music, and that kept us going. After a bumpy road we found the stage, in the middle of a natural amphitheater. Everyone was singing and dancing, and between songs they shouted as loud as they could: ”Save Rosia Montana!”

People gather each year at Fan Fest, a festival based on volunteer work, for concerts, the views in the Apuseni Mountains, theatre, movies and many others, but most importantly to protest against a massive mining project. It all started about 2000 years ago when, the legends say, an old woman took her goats to a hill, and saw a shinny rock. She realized it was gold. Since then everyone has tried to take as much gold as they could from this region of Romania, not thinking about the consequences. From the Romans to the communists they all left their fingerprint so now you can find artificial lakes, ruined ancient galeries, the river Aries with orange, acid waters, the second largest cooper quarry in Europe and many more.

When we went for a walk in the morning, we could see on the right a green hill, cows and hays, a beautiful country landscape and on the left a huge pile of rocks, no trees, no grass, like a scene in a horror movie. Just like this, people are also split into two main groups: the activists who against the exploitation and the corporatists, the employees at Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC), the corporation that plans to irreversibly change the future of Rosia Montana`s treasure. Their plan is to transform the Romanian mining by creating a innovative and highly professional working environment.

The Canadian corporation plans to extract 245 tons of gold with the support of the Romanian Government. The geological research showed that there are approximately 314 tons of gold hidden in the Apuseni Mountains. But taking it will require a complicated process. The project involves actually grinding hills and creating an artificial lake where the chemicals used for the process (like chianide) will be deposited. As for the unique historical vestiges, RMGC promises their preservation and restauration.The whole process is estimated to take around 15 years but continued with 10 to 15 years of restoration and monitoring of the affected area. At the end they claim Rosia Montana will be completely rehabilitated and ready to open for tourism and agriculture.

The people from the village were persuaded to move to another area where they were given houses, but not all of them agreed. Some remained on their mother-land and refused to sell their homes. They don`t believe in the corporation’s promises and want the gold to be kept for Romania. One of them is Eugen David. He actively fights RMGC, trying to attract people’s attention towards the great economical and historical treasure and most important to the fact that it`s about to be taken by foreigners. He inspired many people with his dignity and ambition, representing the authentic traditional Romanian peasant, awakening the spirit of patriotism in many hearts.

The conflict has gathered many people on both sides as became more promoted. On TV we can see a commercial with people form Rosia Montana trying to convince that RMGC is the best option, while in the streets we see activist posters saying: “Save Rosia Montana!”. Romania is a country divided on this issue and there’s no telling if in the end it will choose the green or the gold.

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