Romania's production of metals, industrial minerals, and mineral fuels was mainly of regional importance. Mining ranked third among Romania's leading industries in 2002, and the production of construction materials and chemicals, and petroleum refining were also among leading industries. Mine production of lead and zinc showed some recovery in 2000, paralleling the rebound in the economy, with GDP growing by 2.2%. Minerals and fuels ranked fourth among export commodities, accounting for 6% of exports, while metals and metal products ranked second, accounting for 15% of exports.
Romania mined iron ore (290,000 tons in 2000; 860,000 in 1996), as well as alumina, bauxite, bismuth, copper, gold, manganese, molybdenum, silver, and uranium. Among industrial minerals, Romania produced antimony, barite, bentonite, diatomite (9,712 tons; 56,906 in 1996), feldspar, fluorspar, graphite, gypsum (229,000 tons; 79,000 in 1997), kaolin, lime (1.48 million tons), limestone, nitrogen (content of ammonia, 700,000 tons; 1.5 million tons), pyrites, salt, sand and gravel, caustic soda, soda ash, sulfur, and talc—from 60 deposits throughout the country.
In 2000 Aurul S.A., a joint stock company processing gold-bearing tailings, experienced a spillage of 100,000 cu m of waste liquid from a tailings pond in the Baia Mare region, of an undetermined level of toxins (cyanide and heavy metals); later in the year, the government approved resumption of the tailings processing operation, which expected to recover 1.6 tons per year of gold and 9 tons per year of silver. A prefeasibility study for Euro Gold S.A.'s Rosia Montana gold properties proposed a 10 million ton per year open-pit mining operation that would produce 12.8 tons per year gold, increasing Rosia Montana's overall reserves of gold to 12.2 million troy ounces, from 8.65 million; total exploitable resources were estimated to contain 250,000 kg of gold and 1.5 million kg of silver.
Metals and metalworking in the region were well documented by Roman times, when Romania and Bulgaria, respectively known as Dacia and Thrace, were important sources of base and precious metals. Gold and nonferrous metals mined in the region remained attractive investment opportunities.