OVIEDO – Experts of the area say that anyone who has seen the place with their own eyes will immediately understand why so much gold has decided to hide there. More than 30 tons of gold are said to be hidden beneath the Salave Lakes.
The environment is paradise. A dense forest of honeysuckle, protected plants, trees and other vegetation forms the backdrop to the idyllic lagoons of Salave. It is also the cover for an old Roman mine in which gold emerges from the earth.
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The amount of gold that, according to experts, must still be there, amounts to 10% of the gold reserves that the Spanish central bank currently manages. At the current market value of gold, this would amount to approximately 1.8 billion euros.
The lakes are located in the municipality of Tapia de Casariego and therefore hide the largest gold reserve in Europe. But why is it still there untouched? Because despite promising project proposals to mine this gold, not a single project has yet gotten off the ground.
Explorations and environmental challenges
Since the Romans stopped mining for gold, there have been numerous proposals to tap the remaining reserves. Recently, Exploraciones Mineras del Cantábrico (EMC) submitted a request to exploit the area. They claim that their methods will be minimally invasive and will not have a negative impact on the environment. Nevertheless, this plan has provoked mixed reactions in the local community.
There is division in Tapia de Casariego. Some residents support the mining plans, while others are strongly opposed. Twenty years ago, the association ‘Oro No’ (Gold No) was founded, which opposes mining activities. They would only line the pockets of a few at the expense of citizens, nature, fishermen and local businesses. Their arguments focus on the consequences for agriculture, fishing and tourism. They fear environmental pollution by heavy metals and a negative impact on the landscape, which could harm tourism.
On the other hand, the Idoa association believes in the benefits of mining for economic development and population conservation. They emphasize the importance of creating industry and employment to prevent young people from moving to other regions for work. Idoa believes that at least 159 direct jobs would be created if the mine were to be operated again.
The three artificial lagoons of Silva are located in the village of Salave, part of the municipality of Tapia de Casariego. The closed vegetation, formed by pine and eucalyptus trees that hardly let in the sun, surrounds the Silva Lagoons which are actually the hollows left by the Roman gold and tin mining excavations of the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.
If you are in the area, it is worth walking along the route that eventually leads you to the cliffs on the Cantabrian coast and the beautiful fishing village of Tapia de Casariego. The lagoons have a diameter of several tens of meters and their maximum depth reaches 30 meters. In some areas you can still see the galleries that were used in Roman times.