The Italian Almanac


Italian News - September 20

A gold rush has begun in the hills a stone’s throw from the villas of the famous at Manciano, and among the farmhouses and fields at Civitella Paganico.This is the heart of Tuscany’s Maremma countryside, where history and folklore mingle in the legend of the “butteri”, the local cowboys who famously challenged Buffalo Bill to a rodeo, and defeated him.

The Canada-based Adroit Resource Corporation is looking for gold here in the countryside, and in the villages in the Colline Metallifere near Siena where once Etruscans and Romans forged metal. Non-invasive analysis of the soil is already under way.But the initiative is cloaked in a degree of confidentiality.After all, gold has a reputation for bringing bad luck: the Old West has given us tales of riches that turned to ruin, and joy transformed into torment.

For months, Giacomo Bisemi, a 34-year-old geologist and consultant for Adroit, has been travelling Maremma’s byways to sites where the company has obtained permission to make a preliminary survey.He comes back with a bag full of stones.

“No invasive sampling, just a preliminary collection”, explains Mr Bisemi, “to find out, with the help of geo-chemical analyses, whether gold and other precious metals are present in this part of Italy.We believe they are, partly because that’s what history tells us.In the past, the ore was uneconomic to extract but now things are different, thanks to revolutionary, fully environment-friendly systems.If we go ahead with the operational stage, there will be no mines or quarries.We will only be looking for rocks, and will extract the gold from them.Extraction has to guarantee half a kilogram of metal per ton of stones processed in order to be viable.Our estimates tell us that in Maremma the percentage could be higher”.

Surveying will last for five to ten years.A number of environmental impact licences have already been signed by local councils and the regional authority while others are in the pipeline.