44) Three things you didn't know about... Gold mining


Tenth in the world in terms of the diversity of minerals produced in the country, 60 different minerals are currently extracted and manufactured in Romania.
The Golden Quadrilateral in the Metaliferi Mountains (a mountain range in Transylvania, which belongs to the Western Romanian Carpathians) includes gold and silver deposits which constitute "the most productive gold area in Europe". The Golden Quadrilateral covers an area of approximately 500 km2 within the Apuseni Mountains ("Past and present mining in the Apuseni Mountains" study, 2006).

Roșia Montană Gold sample

Modern-day gold mining
The average gold content over the last 200 years of mining in Romanian Metaliferi Mountains is estimated at 10 grams per tonne (Udubaşa & Udubaşa study, 2004). Ghiţulescu & Socolescu estimated a total mined quantity of gold and silver of 85 tons untill 1941 (30 tons of gold and 55 tons of silver, since 1746). The highest level of gold production in Romania was reached in 1949 at 35 tons (400 kg in 2008 being the lowest level since January 01, 1942).
In Roșia Montană area is the largest gold deposit in continental Europe, estimated at over 300 tons of gold and 1600 tons of silver, having a value of $3 billion.
According to "Mineral assemblages at Săcărâmb" study, the open pit mine located near Certeju de Sus village, has estimated reserves of around 10 million tons grading 1~2 grams per tonne gold in the salband ore (~15 tons in total, having a value of ~$0.15 billion).
According to the World Gold Council (WGC), larger and better quality underground mines contain around 8 to 10 grams per tonne, with marginal underground mines have averages of around 4 to 6 grams per tonne. Open pit mines usually have lower grades from 1 to 4 grams per tonne.

Native Gold on Quartz from Romania

Ancient gold mining
The ancient gold mine in Rosia Montana, in the Apuseni Mountains of western Transylvania, should be considered: “the most extensive and most important underground Roman gold mine known anywhere", according to Andrew Wilson and David Mattingly, professors of Roman archeology at Oxford University and Leicester University respectively (2010).
Even before Romans, the Dacians traded this gold to the Greeks for fancy pottery and to the Scythians for amber. About 100 AD the Roman Emperor Trajan conquered Dacia - mainly in order to get this gold. The Romans used the Dacian gold to pay their army.
"Several well preserved mining works and many archaeological findings confirm the very early gold extraction. The Apuseni Mountains have been inhabited since the Stone Age. It is known that Apuseni gold was used by the Mycenaeans and the Trojans, and is believed to have been used also by the Pharaohs. The region was known as Dacia and inhabited by the Dacs. The Romans conquered this area and carried out tonnes of gold and silver. Trajan’s Column in Rome commemorates the importance of the conquest. It was calculated that the Romans had extracted about 150 tons of gold from Dacia" ("Past and present mining in the Apuseni Mountains"; Attila Toth - Eötvös Lóránd University, Budapest, Aurélie Quiquerez - University of Lausanne, István Marton - University of Geneva, 2006).


The Gold Museum
Also known as the Mineralogical Collection of Brad, The Gold Museum in the small Romanian city of Brad is the only one of its kind in Europe. Founded 100 years ago, the gallery contains a mind-blowing collection of over 2000 pieces of gold gathered here from across the world. A highlight of the museum, however, is the native gold which is displayed exactly as found in the mines of the Romanian mountains. The pieces are so unique and spectacular that their value does not depend on grammage anymore. For instance, a lizard shaped item of only seven tenths of a gram of gold has been evaluated at €3 million.

The Gold Museum in Brad

Sources:
Mining industry
Archaeology report stalls Romania plans to dig up ancient Roman gold mine
12 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know
Tellurium study: Popescu & Neacsu
Past and present mining in the Apuseni Mountains
Gold - Mining History for Kids
Gold Investing News
Goddess of the Earth
Apuseni Mountains

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