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March 21, 2023

Alba County ranks high in unemployment

The latest statistics of the National Employment Agency position Alba County on the seventh place nationally in terms of unemployment, with a 6.63% rate at the end of July, representing 12,127 unemployed people. The national unemployment rate is 4.77%, Vaslui County ranking first, with 8.95%. Alba County has the highest unemployment rate in Transylvania, after Covasna (7.04%). The numbers only take into account the persons registered as unemployed, as many jobless persons are no longer included in the statistics once their allowance has come to an end. Many counties in difficulty long for investments, but Alba relies on its millenary tradition of mining.

In a time when unemployment is a national issue, representatives of the community from Rosia Montana, Alba County, have recently re-affirmed their support of a traditional sector for the Apuseni Mountains – mining. Their public support came as the result of a series of manifestations organized by several non-local NGOs aiming to block mining activities.

The Rosia Montana area is the most affected by unemployment from the whole Alba County. According to recent statistics, over 65% of the overall population of working age does not make any incomes. A study carried out by the University “1 Decembrie 1918” of Alba Iulia specifies that the area is going through the most critical period in terms of employment, because of the closure of two mines – Minvest and RosiaMin, which resulted in the layoff of 2,800 people in the period 1997 – 2007.

One of the most circulated arguments of the mining opponents is that the population in the area has the long-term alternative of working in agriculture. However, the Rosia Montana area does not have the physical potential for this sector – only 7% of the commune’s territory is agricultural land. The activities carried out in the area, including animal husbandry, are for subsistence only and are not profitable for an entire community. In fact, as they pointed out repeatedly, the locals do not believe that farming can be an alternative to making income, their tradition in mining having a say in this regard. “We came to the streets to protect our jobs. We are tired of others coming to us and telling us what to do. We want to decide our future alone, and most of us want mining”, members of the “Viitorul Mineritului Roşia Montană” Trade Union had recently stated in a letter.

The specialists of the Alba Iulia University show that the mine would offer employment opportunities for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, who would have difficulties finding jobs elsewhere. In addition to the actual jobs in mining, the occupational offer provided by a mining project also includes other construction and maintenance jobs, such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, ironworkers or welders.

A 2010 study by British-based consultancy company Oxford Policy Management (OPM) shows that the mining project proposed by Rosia Montana Gold Corporation (RMGC) in the area will create 2,390 jobs in the construction phase, that is in the first two years of the project. Of them, 2,300 jobs will be occupied by Romanians. In the operational phase, which lasts for 16 years, there will be about 880 direct employees. The indirect jobs in the operational phase are calculated based on a multiplier factor specific to the mining industry, which is 4. Thus, it is estimated that another 3,600 jobs will be created. “Most of these jobs will be located in the local and regional areas surrounding the project and will offer well-paid employment, thus enhancing the living standard of the households in the area”, shows the OPM study.

RMGC currently employs 450 people, thus being the largest employer in the area, while the project is still in the permitting phase.

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