Silviu Mihai and George Popescu - The Ghost Towns of Black Coal

Silviu Mihai and George Popescu – The Ghost Towns of Black Coal

“The last coal mines in the Jiu Valley will be closed down during the next three years. The decision was taken by the Romanian Government, jointly with the International Monetary Fund and the EU Commission. Over 3,000 workers will lose their jobs, tens of thousands more will be indirectly affected. The region will soon become a barren landscape. Today, seven ghost towns are waiting for a last chance along the river Jiu.”

Silviu Mihai, journalist, and George Popescu, photojournalist, are planning to document the last miners’ everyday life, join them on their last descent underground, at their kitchen table, and in their search for new jobs – or possibly for new homes in Western Europe. On the basis of their research and with your support, they would like to develop a multimedia website that will portray this unique community.





Once a proud symbol of progress and industrialisation in the Stalinist propaganda, today the Jiu Valley is a place without development perspectives, where locals leave massively for Western Europe. Closing the mines was clearly decided based on economic, but also on political reasons: It is the last act of a long cultural war waged by the liberal, “Western” elite in Bucharest on the “backward barbarians” of the Jiu Valley.

“How do people live in these impoverished small towns that lie in the middle of one of the most beautiful Romanian natural parks? And what would a sustainable alternative to mining look like, here in the Jiu Valley? An alternative offering both people in the region, and the environment a a coal-free, but at the same time humane future? We are travelling to Transylvania to find out more.

We want to go for an ambitious project, combining textual, visual and audio elements and going beyond the stereotypes of the mainstream media. We would like to present our project on a dedicated website, in both German and Romanian, possibly also in English. We want to portray the ghost towns of black coal in all their details, and tell the stories of their inhabitants.

The material will document one working day in the miners’ lives, the outdated equipment, the precarious labour conditions, the living, the children at play, the migration of the parents, the informal recycling of scrap metal, the slow coming to terms with recent history, the marginal Roma communities, the religious diversity, and the small cultural and civil society initiatives. The projects will show how the old industry is leaving the scene, what does it leave behind and what could take its place.”




The project needs your support because no media outlet in Germany – not to mention Romania – finds itself in the position to finance such a project. They have cool prizes waiting for you and we hope we will be able to start working soon. It would be successful if they can manage to get 3,800 Euro till the end of the year. You can support our project via Paypal or by bank transfer. For Paypal, please use the following data:

Purpose of transfer: “Support for Project Ghost Towns”.

For a bank transfer, please pay to:
Krautreporter GmbH
GLS Bank, Bochum, Germany
IBAN: DE78430609671132119200
Purpose of transfer: “Support for Project Ghost Towns”.

The project is also featured on the KrautReporter crowdfunding website where you can support the project by Paypal. Just click on the red button marked “Jetzt unterstützen” (=”support now”), register by typing in your name and e-mail address under the heading called “Registrieren”. Choose a password and type it in twice under the same heading. Now type in the amount you want to contribute and choose a prize from the list. Confirm by clicking the red button at the bottom of the page. In the last step, make sure your contact data are listed correctly and confirm your agreement to the site’s Terms and Conditions (AGB) by ticking the box marked so. Clicking the big red button will take you to Paypal for authorising the money transfer.

The video presentation is available in Romanian and Deutsch.

Many thanks in advance!

More details in Romanian on
George Popescu’s website at