Greek block of Canadian goldmine project 'inappropriate'

A Canadian mining project in the north of Greece has been divisive with communities and environmentalists saying it threatens the forest of Halkidiki and water quality in a natural area.

Greek block of Canadian goldmine project 'inappropriate'

World Bulletin / News Desk

Canada's Eldorado Gold on Thursday called a decision by Greece to block expansion work on a disputed goldmine "entirely inappropriate," and warned of a full halt of its activities.

"We are most disappointed and perplexed by this entirely inappropriate decision," Eldorado Gold chief executive officer Paul Wright said in a statement reacting to the decision disrupting the group's plans in the northern Halkidiki peninsula.

He added that the company's Greek subsidiary Hellas Gold "may be forced to suspend all its mining and development activities in Halkidiki due to this rash decision."

Greece's environment minister announced the halt on Wednesday over alleged contract violations.

Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said he had ordered a "temporary" suspension of an expansion dig on the mountain of Skouries because it "violated the terms of its technical studies."

Wright said the dispute was over flash smelting tests conducted in Finland, and which the Greek ministry wanted done on-site in Halkidiki.

"We have received numerous favorable decisions of the Council of State –- Greece's Supreme Court on administrative and environmental matters –- over the course of the last three years, which confirm the legality of our activities in Halkidiki," Wright said.

"We will once more take legal action... to safeguard the rights of Eldorado, Hellas Gold, our Greek employees and the communities and stakeholders that support our projects in Halkidiki," he said. 

The investment by Hellas Gold, which already operates other mines in the area, has deeply divided the local inhabitants, many of whom welcome the jobs created by the project.

Wright said the suspension had put 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in Greece at risk.

Anti-mine protesters claim the project will cause irreversible harm to the environment, draining and contaminating local water reserves and filling the air with hazardous chemicals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury.

A series of protests against the project included a violent clash in 2013, when hooded militants threw Molotov cocktails at the mine worksite, wounding a guard and damaging equipment.

While in opposition, the now-ruling Syriza party publicly opposed the investment.

"The government welcomes investment, but companies must respect the terms to which they are bound," Skourletis said Wednesday.

The move came as the leftist Greek government seeks to rebuild investor confidence by authorising privatisations it had previously opposed.

 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Ağustos 2015, 11:53
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