Rosia Montana

Roșia Montană is a village in the Apuseni Mountains of north-central Romania in Transylvania. Known as Alburnus Maior to the Romans, its rich mineral resources, in particular gold, have been exploited since at least the late Stone Age (Neolithic).

A Short History

Rosia Montana is located in the middle of what once was the Dacian Kingdom that lasted from 82BC until the Trajan-led Roman army defeated the Daci in 106AD. At this time, the Romans created extensive underground gold mines in the area of Rosia Montana. Wax tablets from AD131 have been recovered and is the earliest record of the name Alburnus Maior.

After the Romans left in 271AD, mining continued in the middle ages by German Saxons and, later, during the Austrian Empire, was expanded in the 1700s and 1800s. In 1948, the Romanian State took over operations.

The Mining Project

In 1999, the Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) was formed to mine the gold dust present in the soil of the area. The intention was to produce 225 tonnes of gold and 819 tonnes of silver over 17 years. It would  involve  the creation of four mining pits covering 205ha. Up to 250 million tonnes of cyanide-laced tailings were to be stored in a 363ha pond in the Corna Valley behind a 185m-high dam.


Within a few years, opposition to the mining project began to grow. Originally begun at a grassroots level when a few locals refused to sell their land to RMGC, opposition gained momentum as more and more experts and celebrities began to voice their concerns including a number of international archeologists who were dismayed over the potential destruction of the area’s unique Roman mines. It was during this time the Rosia Montana Cultural Foundation was created.

In 2013, when then-Prime Minister Victor Ponta indicated he would make it possible to bypass existing environmental laws holding up the project, significant street protests erupted in major cities against the project. In October 2013, Ștefan Marincea, the President of the Geological Institute, testified that there are many fault lines in the area. Finally, on November 2013, the senate rejected the draft law which would have allowed the mining project to go ahead.

Rosia Montana Today

Though the situation in Rosia Montana is in a healthy place, government backroom deals keeps the issue from being resolved. In 2018, for example, after filing to be included in a list of proposed UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the minister of Romania abruptly requested that Rosia Montana be removed. Inclusion on the list was resumed on January 31, 2020.

Rosia Montana, Romania

Street protests against mining project in Roisia Montana, Romania.

Sorin Jurca speaking to tourists about mining in Rosia Montana, Romania.

Village of Rosia Montana.

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