Canadian Skouries Gold Mine Project In Greece Faces Opposition From Government

By @ibtimesau on
Protesters march at a street in Athens to oppose a copper-gold mine project in Halkidiki region in northern Greece March 12, 2013. The Skouries project, an open pit copper-gold mine, is run by Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold that runs the Stratoni mixed sulfide project in northern Greece and is developing three gold projects in the region. REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis

Greece's new left-wing government has vowed to exert all possible efforts, including legal actions, to stop the Canadian-run Skouries gold mine in northern Greece. The mine is owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold Corp.

Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told parliament on Tuesday that the government has started gathering all possible points to launch a legal action to stop the mine from operating. The mine was considered as the flagship project of the previous government's foreign investment drive. It will also serve as primary tool to see if Greece can protect and maintain foreign investment regardless of mounting local opposition.

"We are against the gold investment in Skouries and we will use all possible legal means to back our position," Lafazanis said. "In any case we will support all workers at the mines."

Krista Muhr, vice president of Eldorado's investor relations, had informed in January that the mine has secured all possible and legal permits, “so we’re legally entitled to continue our operations and development projects there.” The company has allotted $200 million to spend in 2014 to further develop Skouries mine. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2016.

The Skouries mine, with estimated reserves of 5.3 million oz of gold and 246.4 million tonnes of ore grading 0.49 percent copper, is the largest of the Cassandra Mines of northern Chalkidiki, Central Macedonia. It is also one of the largest gold deposits found in Greece and in the rest of the world. It is majority owned by Eldorado.

Ore processing is expected to start sometime in 2015 in the open pit gold mine, despite growing opposition from the local population. Reports released by Amnesty International of possible human rights violations have also flaunted.

Environmentalists also had criticized the possible impact of the project on the pristine Halkidiki peninsula landscape of beaches and forest surrounding it. About 3,300 acres of primeval forest were cut down to clear the area for the mine, plant, roads and an area to dump the mine’s toxic tailings waste.

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