In a potentially game-changing decision, Europa Nostra, the leading European heritage organization, alongside the European Investment Bank Institute, selected Rosia Montana as one of the “7 Most Endangered Landmarks” in Europe out of 42 candidates from 21 different countries. The announcement was made at a press conference on the 12th of June, 2013, in Athens. As Europa Nostra skillfully describes it, Rosia Montana mining landscape, one of the most representative in Europe, “is seriously threatened by a large-scale, open-cast gold mining project.” According to Gabriel Resources Ltd., the Canadian company behind the scheme, the plan for the project is to dig up the estimated 800-4,000 tons of gold squirreled away in Rosia Montana using an astonishing amount of 40 tons of cyanide per day. Exploiting the mine would mean destroying four forested mountains, contaminating multiple rivers, devastating several fragile ecosystems and destroying over 900 buildings. It would also require the damming up of one end of the Corna valley to hold 250 million tons of cyanide-laced waste generated by the gold leaching.
Rosia Montana’s selection among the most endangered European landmarks not only challenges the constantly-used fallacious information spread by the Canadian company and the Romanian government, which stressed that the Canadian project was the only solution for the area’s development, but also condemns open-pit mining and cyanide-based exploitation as a development strategy. Instead, Europa Nostra willingly takes on the Romanian government and the Canadian company and “promotes a model of sustainable development based on culture and cultural patrimony, on the interaction between development and cultural factors.