Open Pit Mining

Open pit mining near Rosia Montana


There should be no question that open pit mining unalterably affects both the natural landscape in the immediate area and the communities that lie within close proximity. For those who disagree they only need to visit an open pit mine to convince themselves of the utter devastation this form of mining unleashes upon the environment and its inhabitants.

Recently, I stood on the rim of Rosia Poieni, an active open pit copper mine near Rosia Montana, and saw a landscape that seemed to have arisen from the underworld. With no trees to block the wind, the cold air tugged at my winter jacket as if wanting to take me down the mine’s steep, stair-stepped walls for a closer look at the desolate land on the bottom. Grey and stark, the barren earth gave no hint of the beautiful forest and mountain meadows that once formed the mountain. Instead, the excavation had removed all signs of life. Indeed, so thorough was the devastation that it appeared as if life would never grace this land again.

Removing a mountaintop is not a delicate and scarless procedure; it is a hard-hitting, aggressive approach to mineral extraction that impacts an area for all future generations. This is not to say that every open pit mine is unnecessary. However, the public should understand that this form of mining forever alters the land and the lives of people who live nearby. There can be no turning back once mining operations begin and though the mining companies speak of land “reclamation” and “rehabilitation”, it is unjust for these companies to sugarcoat the effects of their mining operations in an effort to gain both public and governmental approval.

Instead, let the public become informed. Let them see the effects of active open pit mines throughout the world. Point to the gains that can be made but also do not hesitate to show the substantial and irreversible impact upon the natural and human environments.

Of course, we live in a period of time in which dollars and euros are equivalent to power. Big companies do not surrender their “profit at any cost” motives easily. This points to a deep rooted need to make a change within our own attitudes about what is important in life and giving less importance to what is only a temporary gain, one that, may in fact, be harmful in the long term.

The very existence of Rosia Montana and the surrounding communities are threatened with open pit mining. It is delusional to believe that the communities will be better off with the removal of its mountains, destruction of its heritage and archeological treasures.

If the plans of the open pit mining company are allowed to go forward, then the Rosia Montana with its glorious heritage, boundless nature and world-class treasures will cease to exist and another Rosia Montana, with a few buildings and a company restaurant, will be in its place, a small island of land adrift in a sea of utter destruction.

To which of these will we let bear the name of Rosia Montana? This is our decision and our moment. Let us hope that each of us has the wisdom to make the right choice.

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