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Gold and polymetallic ores mining in Brad and the battle against cyanide, Romania


Historically, gold mining in Romania was done in the Apuseni Mountains. The south part of these mountains is very rich in gold deposits. In literature, this area is referred to as the ”auriferous quadrangle”. The immediate background to this confict, as in other minign conflicts in Romania, is the economic crisis of 2008 and the rising price of precious metals in those years which resulted in a growing interest from investors internationally in starting mining projects in peripheral Europe.[1] The whole South-Eastern Europe faced such project proposals, eight of which were located only in Greece. The same trend was also been visible in Romania since 2012 when  members of the European Parliament and the Romanian Government discussed,within a seminar in Bucharest, about our country’s potential to develop seemingly small scale cyanide gold mining projects.  One of them would be in Brad. The town of Brad in Hunedoara has 13,000 inhabitants and is located 37 km away from Deva (anonther mining site), on the national road DN76 to Oradea. Brad is an old mining centre, mining operations being first documented in 21 AD. There is a well known gold museum. Mining activities stopped in the town in 2006, with the state mines being considered inefficient. The Hunedoara Environmental Protection Agency decided on 09.07.2013 that the project „Surface exploration drilling and rehabilitation of access roads to the Brad exploration area”, proposed to be undertaken in Brad town, Ruda-Brad village, on the premises of the former Maria Mine – should not be subject to the environmental impact assessment. While in Brad mining pemit was not yet forhcoming, there are other projects of gold mining exploration for which is approved in the area, that would use cyanide. The position taken by the government in 2016 is therefore relevant: “This proposal for a (ten year) moratorium on cyanide use in mining is a first step towards the definitive ban of this toxic practice for Romania’s nature and communities. We need to continue to enhance our efforts because, on the other side, industry and the associated lobby make pressures to continue the use of cyanide, no matter what the consequences would be.

The battle for a cyanide-free Romania is far from being over and its result depends on each of us, the citizens”, said the Mining Watch Romania network.[2].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Gold and polymetallic ores mining in Brad and the battle against cyanide, Romania
State or province:Hunedoara
Location of conflict:Brad
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral processing
Mineral ore exploration
Specific commodities:Gold

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Eldorado Gold Corporation is a Canadian-based, gold mining company with assets in Turkey, China, Greece, Brazil and Romania. This conflict is related o the mining area: Brad, Baia de Criş, Vălişoara, Dealul Mare . License issuance date: exploration license No. 15997/01.2013 . Project holder 2013: European Goldfields Deva SRL

Shareholders: Eldorado Gold (80-100%) (by its subsidiary Deva Gold Barbados Ltd.)

Although the project in Brad appears to be stalled, in the same area (Deva, Brad, Certej) Eldorado announced in August 2016 that the Romanian National Agency for Mineral Resources awarded the Troita – Pitigus exploration license covering the Bolcana project to Eldorado's 100% owned Romania subsidiary SC European Goldfields Deva SRL. The Bolcana project is located in the Golden Quadrilateral mining region of the Apuseni Mountains near the historic mining centers of Deva and Brad, and approximately six kilometres west of the Company's Certej development project.

Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:13000
Start of the conflict:09/07/2013
Company names or state enterprises:European Goldfields SRL from Romania
Eldorado Gold (EG) from Canada
Relevant government actors:National Agency for Mineral Resources (NAMR)
Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MMSC)
Agency Hunedoara (Hunedoara EPA)
Hunedoara County Council
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:The Mining Watch Romania network
Independent Centre for the Development of Environmental Resources
Alburnus Maior Association
Efectul Fluture Association

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Public campaigns


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsRisk of use of cyanide
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Other socio-economic impacts


Project StatusProposed (exploration phase)
Conflict outcome / response:New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Brad itself has not gone ahead, apprently, but there is exploration by Eldorado in nearby areas.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Brad mining area

[2] Romanian Government proposes a ban on cyanide use in mining for the next 10 years, 27 Dec. 2016

[1] Roxana Pencea, Tudor Brădăţan, Ştefania Simion. This report is published by Mining Watch Romania, the network of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based groups working on issues concerning gold mining activities in Romania. 2014.

Eldorado Gold demareaza explorarea in perimetrele aurifere Brad, Deva si Muncel

Foraje minere fără consimţământul comunităţii în Deva-Muncel şi Brad

August 2016, announcement by Eldorado company

Meta information

Contributor:Roxana Pencea, Raluca Vestemeanu - Mining Watch Romania, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019