ABRUD – Transylvanian Mining Centre

The name Abrud has a Dacian origin, coming from “Abruttus”, which comes, as well, from a Dacian phrase “abrudiom”, meaning “gold”.  In the Roman Era the “Abrud” was called “Auraria Daciae”, “Auraria Maior” and “Alburnus Minor”.

Even in the ancient times, Abrud had its fame. When Decebal, the Dacians’ king, reigned, Abrud was the center of the mining operations in Dacia. In 106, after the Romans conquered Dacia, emperor Trajan set a Roman legion in Abrud, calling it “Auraria Daciae”, and eventually, “Auraria Maior”, and he organized the so-called “Collegium Aurariorum”, under the leadership of a mines chief, called “magister”.

In the exploitation of the mines near Abrud, even with primitive working machines, 15-20.000 workers were busy, taking out 100-103 kilograms of gold weekly. Every year the local administration sent 5000 kilograms of gold to Rome to supply the imperial hoard.

In the Roman Era, the Abrud Mountains’ auriferous riches represented the most attractive element for Dacia’s conquerors.

A legend says that emperor Trajan, when he conquered this area, he plundered a huge amount of gold and silver, finding 165.000 kg of gold and 331.000 kg of silver.

The Romans have illustrated this plunder, as well as its greatness, on one of Trajan’s Column’s boards in Rome.

In the 15th century (1438), the free practice of mining is guaranteed through a royal decree, and later, a mining issues’ law court was founded in Abrud. This law court functioned in 4 mining centers: Abrud, Zlatna, Baia de Aries and Baia de Cris.

The Hungarian population, favored by the political and economic situation, being a dominant nation, monopolized these resources and the center of mining life – Abrud – became the real estate property of the Hungarian element, and it also became colonized. Therefore, Abrud city kept itself as the heart for gold mines exploitation, with only one difference – the Romanian quiddity of the city suffered big changes, after The Hungarian domination took control over Ardeal.

Abrud city is famous for being a gold trade center, “the first deed of a gold producer, when he went on Mondays to Abrud, to the weekly fair, was to change his gold for coins, so that he could buy what he needed”, wrote Ion Rusu Abrudeanu in his book “Motii, calvarul unui popor eroic, dar nedreptatit” – 1928.

We don’t have to neglect the fact that most of the gold produced in the mines near Abrud was sent abroad through smuggling, the gold being better paid in the foreign markets than in our country.

The Nationalization Law in 1948 has decided that all the resources found in soil and subsoil, which weren’t in the country’s possession, should become its property, so the individual mining activities were confiscated by the country.

The mines exploitation in the auriferous quadrilateral Baia de Aries – Rosia Montana – Bucium – Zlatna, an area adjacent to Abrud, has developed in a way it never did before, after the nationalization. The machines used for gold extraction and processing were updated and then a high yield of gold extraction was achieved.

In 1969, the Mining Plat Deva was founded, and the mining exploitations from the auriferous quadrilateral of Apuseni Mountains belonged to this plant. In 1974, they came back on organization, and they defined two geographical-mining areas: Deva and Baia Mare, each one was centralized and functioned as a plant for ferrous and non-ferrous ore.

On 21st May 1997, on Constantin and Elena saints’ day, a decree was signed – the foundation of the largest mining mark in Romania – the Mining Plant of Copper in Rosia Poieni Abrud – eventually transformed, in 2002, in S.C. Cupru Min S.A. Abrud, its deposit having 60% of the copper supply in Romania.

The Mining Plant of copper in Rosia Poieni – S.C. Cupru Min S.A. Abrud, has always relied on the local working force, the mining center Abrud flourishing like never before, and once this mining mark was opened, many other activities, besides mining, were developed and new companies were founded, such as: TCMM (Mining Machines and Constructions), SUT (Transportation Machinery Station), IAMSAT – company for technical assistance, and also Cotton Mill, where 600 women worked, most of them being the wives of the men who worked in   Mining Plant of Copper Rosia Poieni.

In 1990, 171.000 people were employed in the mining activity, and in 2007, there were only 29.000 people working in this field. There was a decrease of 83%, which illustrates how much the mining industry has diminished in 17 years, the economic and social costs of this process being huge.

The mining reorganization has brought poverty in Abrud, as well as in other mining areas of the country, because the workplaces vanished (if there were 2900 workplaces in 1990, now there are only 540, representing 18,62%) and the process of reorganization hasn’t provided viable options for new workplaces to absorb the dismissed personnel, so the people moved to other countries in searching for work.