The vast increase in demand for gold in recent years – the heightened state of which we have reported throughout 2011 – has forced mining companies to seek new sources of the precious metal in order to supply the seemingly insatiable appetite of buyers.
This has resulted in speculation over more unusual mining locations being potentially exploited – with perhaps the most obscure yet in rural Transylvania.
Though the location near the Romanian village of Rosia Montana has not been mined for around 2,000 years, it contains the largest gold and silver reserves in Europe.
According to the Canadian-owned Rosia Montana Gold Corp, up to 10.6 million ounces of gold could be extracted from four open pit mines in the area. This would translate to some $26 billion at today’s prices.
The project is not without controversy, however. As one of the oldest mining sites in the world, Rosia Montana is a major archaeological site and has been considered as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status by Romania in past years. Such concerns have turned Romanian public opinion against the project. The Romanian government has claimed in response that exploitation of resources will create jobs – an argument that has not escaped Transylvania, where unemployment is particularly high. With gold prices at their highest levels in decades, it is not improbable that the economic argument will win out.