When we last left the neverending saga of Rosia Montana back in July, it seemed like things had finally come to a peaceful end. The area was going through the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and, well, the Romanian government was going to have to cough up around 4.4 billion dollars for its stupidity.
As a wise man once said, when you find yourself in a hole, stop fucking digging. Apparently, Romanian PM Mihai Tudose doesn’t agree:
Prime Minister Mihai Tudose reportedly told a talk show on Romanian TV this week that his government would ask that UNESCO set aside a request by the country’s former government, as the inclusion of the 2000-year-old mining area would make it impossible to exploit resources in the area.
Well, it wasn’t “reportedly” – he actually did say those things.
And you can see why he’s in a bit of a bind. His government’s budget is cratering, and delisting Rosia Montana seems like an easy way to get Gabriel Resources off their back, at least for a while. After all, if it’s a UNESCO site, you can’t mine there, right?
Just yesterday, Tudose confirmed (in Romanian) that he is even stupider than he looks.
We must leave a way open, perhaps not for right now, and maybe not even in the next five or 10 years. But maybe in 20 years, when technology advances, gold can be mined without using cyanide or other chemicals that sterilize the environment. It’ll be a different kind of mining…
Once again, just for the record, the “incredibly rich” deposits of Rosia Montana have approximately 1 gram of gold per ton of dirt.
In order to get it out, you have to separate a teaspoon of material from a mountain of rock and stone. Right now, the only way to do that is with cyanide, but even if some other magic substance is invented, it will still involve dissolving an entire fucking mountain in order to get a few bits of shiny metal.
Look, I acknowledge that some mining is critical to support the world we live in, whether it’s rare earth minerals that power our mobile phones or vast seams of coal used to generate electricity. But literally nobody and nothing requires gold.
If not a single new gram of gold were ever extracted from the earth again, we’d all go on living our lives without the slightest inconvenience.
And guess what? Despite what Tudose said, you can have a working mine that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Here’s Alessandro Balsamo, a UNESCO specialist who gave an interview on Romanian radio (my translation):
Currently, there are already UNESCO World Heritage Sites which are active mines. What matters is that they are being operated according to national law and in a manner that protects the integrity of the site.
The area [of Rosia Montana] is still rich in minerals and the proposed resumption of open cast mining with modern quarrying techniques would inevitably entail the quasi-total and irreversible destruction of the cultural heritage and its setting, which is the principal resource for the sustainable development of the area.
Get it? You can still mine all the fucking gold you want to, just as long as you don’t do it by open cast mining techniques (aka cyanide leaching) that will end up destroying the landscape.
And yes, if George Jetson invents magic gold mining juice 20 years in the future, Rosia Montana can be stripped of all its gold by shady foreign companies without losing its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.