Where is gold produced in Europe? Principally in Finland, Sweden, Bulgaria, Spain and Turkey. Finland and Sweden are the main producing countries, followed by Bulgaria and Spain. Turkey, which began to extract gold at the beginning of the 21st century, produces today more gold than all the countries of the EU put together.

Mined gold is transported to processing facilities in the mining countries or in other countries, such as Poland. This processing, as well as the mining process, contribute to the generation of revenues – at local and national level – through the product’s value chain.

In many countries of the EU, such as the United Kingdom, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and, of course, Greece, gold mining projects are at the licensing stage. Geological exploration for gold deposits is ongoing also in other countries, such as France, Italy, Slovakia and Austria.

Various gold mines exist in the countries of the European Union, and more particularly in Sweden (8 Boliden mines, Blaiken mine, Svartliden mine and Faboliden mine), in Finland (Pahtavaara mine, Kittila mine, Orivesi mine), in Spain (2 Rio Narcea mines), in Greenland (Nalunaq mine), in Ireland (Omagh mine) and in Portugal with large mining projects and important gold exploration projects.

In the Balkans, in Bulgaria operates the Chelopech mine, the Kardzhali mine has been licensed and the Krumovgrand mine is expected to get its license. In Romania, the gold mine of Rosia Montana is expected to get its license, while in Serbia it has been announced that three State Mines have been conceded to a major gold mining company for further exploration. The same happened recently in Kosovo.

In neighboring Turkey, the Turkish Gold Miners Association at its website presents in its 2014 data ten active gold mines. The gold mines of Cayeli, Mastra, Kisladag and Efemcukuru are of course operating, while two more are under construction. There are currently approximately 70 active gold research and exploration projects in Turkey. Eldorado Gold, Thracean Gold Mining’s parent company, developed and operates the Kisladag and Efemcukuru gold mines in Turkey.

It must be remarked that the use of cyanide in the extraction of gold and its processing for its extraction from the rocks in the plants, is the most common method in Europe. Lage silver mine / gold mine facilities that use the cyanide leaching method are located close or relatively close to residential areas throughout Europe. For example, Fäboliden mine in Sweden, Pahtavaara mine in Finland, Omagh mine in Ireland, Nalunaq mine in Greenland which closed in 2014 but its environmental monitoring still goes on, the Balkan mines and, of course, the mines of Turkey.

At a global level, the use of cyanide in the precious metals industry is applied in 400 processing plants in the world, most of which are high technology mines and belong to advanced countries such as the USA, Sweden, Finland, Australia, Canada.

Modern technology uses cyanide for the production of precious metals only in a closed circuit and the entire extraction process is continuously and fully electronically monitored. This production process is considered by the EU as the Best Available Technique, with very strict standards for the production circuit and the tailings deposits.

Gold mining in Europe is governed by the strict regulatory framework of the European Union and its member states. More particularly, after the failure that occurred fifteen years ago at Baia Mare, the EU adopted Directive 2006/21/EC on the Management of Waste from Extractive Industries 2006/21/EC aiming at the performance of safe extractive works throughout Europe. The above Directive defines the responsibilities that the companies must undertake aiming at the protection both of human health and of the environment, as well as the prevention of accidents. Moreover, modern technology, which is much improved compared to the technology before 2000 and the imposition of Best Available Techniques, prevents such accidents.

According to Directive 2006/21/EC, the extractive company must comply with the following:

  • o It must take the appropriate measures for the construction of special waste management facilities and for prevention of tailings failures, for example.
  • o There must be precise management plans in order to minimize, recover or dispose of the extractive industry waste during mining operations.
  • o Prevention of a major incident and updating program regarding specific types of installations.
  • o Strict conditions that ensure the environmentally safe closure of the special facilities after the end of the mine’s lifetime, including the rehabilitation of the facility area, in order to minimize to the lowest possible level or to prevent, any possible adverse effects on the environment or human health.
  • o There must be controls and inspections so that the compliance to the commitments and the responsibilities that the company has undertaken are  ensured during the mine’s operation.

An environmental financial guarantee must be deposited before the beginning of operation in order to ensure that, all responsibilities arising from the granted license, including the rehabilitation of the site after the mine’s closure, will be respected even in the case of potential default.