Future of Halkidiki gold mines put in doubt

The Greek subsidiary of Canada’s Eldorado Gold, Hellas Gold, is set to put its investment in mining projects in Halkidiki on ice following the government’s decision to refer its dispute with the company to arbitration.

Hellas Gold announced on Wednesday that it has suspended the inauguration of the facilities at the Olympias mine in northern Greece ‘until further notice.’

The dispute between the mining firm and the government relates to the operating licenses for the Olympias and Skouries mines, which were due to be issued this January.

The arbitration process is due to begin at the end of August but it is not known how long it will take to be completed.

Meanwhile, the union representing some 2,400 people employed in the projects said that they plan to take action to protect their jobs.

 

source: www.ekathimerini.com

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Greece to kick off arbitration process over Eldorado Gold’s project

Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD)(NYSE:EGO) will face Greek officials in an arbitration court later this month as the country’s government sees the move as the preferred way to settle its differences with the Canadian miner.

The country’s Energy Minister George Stathakis met representatives from Eldorado’s local unit Hellas Gold in Athens on Wednesday to discuss the process and issues related to the miner’s projects in northern Greece.

According to the ministry’s statement (in Greek), the process is scheduled to begin at the end of August, though the company noted it has yet to receive formal notice of the looming mediation.

Licensing for Olympias is in the final stage, while permits for Skouries — the most contentious one — are pending.

“To be clear, we have not yet received formal notice of arbitration and permits applied for remain unissued,” Eldorado’s President and chief executive George Burns said in a statement. “We continue to evaluate all capital spending and development timelines at our projects in Greece.”

The Vancouver-based company, which already operates Stratoni mine in the country’s north, has been trying to develop the Skouries and Olympias projects for years, but local opposition and an ongoing back-and-forth with authorities have delayed progress.

The biggest differences between the company and Greek authorities revolve around testing methods applied to comply with environmental regulations at Skouries, whose final permits are still pending. Last week the company said production is now targeted for 2020, adding it had reviewed the project’s capital spending.

Licensing for the company’s Olympias project is in the final stage and Eldorado had said it expects to begin production at the gold, silver, zinc and lead mine before year-end.

 

source: mining.com, Cecilia Jamasmie

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Little change to Iranian oil imports in Greece

Iran’s crude oil exports in July are set to fall 7 percent from this month’s three-month high, mainly due to a decline in exports to Europe, a person with knowledge of the Middle Eastern country’s tanker loading schedule said.

In Europe, main buyer Turkey is lifting 194,000 barrels per day this month, down 27 percent from June. Italy is loading nearly 100,000 barrels per day, down from 133,000 bpd last month.

Greece and Spain are each lifting nearly 65,000 barrels per day this month, little changed from June, the source added.

[http://www.ekathimerini.com, from Reuters]

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Eldorado issues response to Greek ministry

Eldorado Gold Corp responded to a statement posted on the Greek Energy and Environment Ministry’s website on Thursday about seeking arbitration over the Canadian company’s gold mine investment, saying it has not received formal notification or any details of any arbitration proceedings.

It stated that “at this time, Eldorado’s operations and development projects are continuing to plan.”

The company underscored that it has consistently received positive decisions from Greece’s Council of State in 18 cases confirming the integrity of its permits.

[Reuters]

SOURCE: ekathimerini.com

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Gov’t to seek arbitration over Eldorado investment

Greece will seek arbitration to settle its differences with Canada’s Eldorado over a gold mine investment, the Energy Ministry said on Thursday.

Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis has requested that the state’s legal advisers prepare for the arbitration process to begin, the ministry said.

Vancouver-based Eldorado is developing a gold mine project in northern Greece but differences have persisted for years with Greek authorities over testing methods applied to comply with environment regulations.

Greece says it wants to make sure that Eldorado’s Greek unit Hellas Gold, which is developing the project, respects its contractual obligations.

“The aim is to safeguard public interest by developing the region’s mineral resources in line with the existing environmental terms and standards,” the ministry said in a statement.

A ministry official told Reuters last week that the three-member arbitration panel would include a government-selected judge, an Eldorado-selected judge and a third selected by the president of Greece’s Supreme Court.

Its decisions would be binding, but could be subject to further appeal.

[Reuters]

SOURCE: ekathimerini.com

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Exxon confirms interest in Greece

ExxonMobil’s interest in Greek hydrocarbons was confirmed in meetings on Friday that representatives of the oil multinational had in Athens with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE) and leading Greek government officials.

Representatives of France’s Total, which is ELPE’s partner in the concession of Block 2 in the Ionian Sea, also attended the meetings with ELPE, Deputy Prime Minister Yiannis Dragasakis and Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis.

ExxonMobil officials had traveled to Athens to confirm their participation in the Ionian concessions through acquiring a stake in ELPE, and also to sign a strategic cooperation agreement for a joint claim on other areas of the country that could hold large quantities of hydrocarbons, with the sea off Crete being a priority.

The US oil giant appears to have already reached an agreement with ELPE and Total, and its objective on Friday was to sound out the government regarding its support for the program to utilize the country’s hydrocarbon reserves, which is vital for ExxonMobil before it advances to the agreement-signing stage.

Sources say ExxonMobil will expand its plans to creating a joint venture with ELPE – with the US firm acting as the operator – through which other possible blocks will be targeted.

source: Chryssa Laggou,  ekathimerini.com

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5 economic benefits of gold mining investment in Greece

The contribution of mining to Greece’s economic growth and development has a history as old as the civilization itself. Since 1,000 B.C., Greeks have been using their mineral resources to build cities, establish trade networks and expand empires.

Revenues from the high-grade silver mines of Laurion, south of Athens in Attica, financed the emergence of Athens as a cultural, economic and military capital in the 5th Century B.C. Further north, the gold deposits of central Macedonia and Thrace funded Alexander the Great’s conquest east and the creation of an empire that, at its peak, stretched across three continents.

Today, the Olympias and Skouries mines that Eldorado Gold is developing in Halkidiki have the potential to make Greece a leading gold producer in Europe.

“The benefits these projects are estimated to generate for local communities, municipal and national governments and the Greek economy are significant ,” says Eduardo Moura, Vice President and General Manager of Eldorado’s operations in Greece. “With mine lives of approximately 25 years each, we see great potential for these projects to contribute to Greece over the long term.”

Here are five benefits Greece is already realizing from Eldorado’s investment in Halkidiki:

1. Jobs

In a country where unemployment exceeds 23%, Eldorado has created more than 2,000 new jobs in the past five years. We are proud that 87% of our employees in Greece are hired from local communities.

We now have approximately 2,400 employees and contractors, and we estimate another 3,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created when Olympias and Skouries reach full production.

Employees take a break at our Olympias project.

2. Taxes and wages

Our projects have the potential to sustain generations of Greeks in family-supporting jobs. In the past three years, we have paid approximately US$100 million in employee wages and benefits. We estimate we will pay more than US$1.5 billion in salaries and benefits over the course of our operations.

In the same timeframe, we will also generate more than US$1 billion in taxes for the Greek government.

3. Community investment

Eldorado currently contributes about €3 million annually to local infrastructure improvements, healthcare accessibility and civil services. Eldorado’s support has helped build new water supply networks, repave roads, update biological treatment plants, and rejuvenate local spaces. Eldorado also supports the Paleohori Healthcare Centre in Halkidiki. Contributions have helped modernise facilities and equipment and with other day-to-day operating costs.

We estimate Olympias and Skouries could contribute approximately US$80 million towards local community and infrastructure projects over the course of their 25 year mine lives.

Greek Orthodox Church in the village of Paleohori, Greece

4. FDI revenues

With foreign direct investment (FDI) in Greece 57% lower in 2015 versus 2014, Eldorado’s projects are a valuable source of revenue for the Country. In 2015, our investment of more than US$200 million accounted for almost 20% of FDI in Greece. (FDI in Greece in 2015 was US$1.1 billion according to the OECD).

With plans to invest over US$1 billion in the 25 years Olympias and Skouries will be in operation, Eldorado will continue to be one of the larger foreign investors in Greece.

5. Export revenues

Greek exports will also be positively impacted by the metals mined from Olympias, Skouries and Stratoni. When in full production, annual export revenues of approximately US$450 million per year (depending on metal prices) would help Greece to pay for the goods and services it currently imports. Mineral exports will also help to reduce Greece’s current trade deficit.

Stratoni processing and export facility

source: http://blog.eldoradogold.com

 

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Eupalinos Tunnel, a Masterpiece of Ancient Engineering Opens to Public

The Tunnel of Eupalinos, one of the most extraordinary monuments of craftmanship and construction (1,036 metres carved inside the mountain that towers over the town of Pythagorio on Samos) will be very soon accessible.

The Culture Ministry announced that the main part of the maintenance, restoration and promotion project of the Eupaline Tunnel that was approved by the Ministry, namely the tunnel in which were the clay water pipes. “The acquaintance with the Eupaline Tunnel is a life experience,” said Culture Minister Lydia Koniordou.

The Eupalinian aqueduct was designed and built in 550 BC by the engineer Eupalinos from Megara when Samos was ruled by tyrant Polycrates. It continued to supply the ancient town of Pythagorio with fresh water for 1,100 years. Eupalinos used what are now well-known principles of geometry, which were codified by Euclid several centuries later. With a length of 1,036 metres (3,399 ft), the Eupalinian subterranean aqueduct is famous today as one of the masterpieces of ancient engineering.

Eupalinos used mathematics and geometry not only to align the excavations before they met, but also to “manipulate” the alignment of the tunnel in order to avoid adverse geological conditions. Mutatis mutandis, the basic principle behind the method of Eupalinos, has been used again long after the Renaissance of Europe (early 18th century), and it is still in use in modern tunneling.

The Eupalinian aqueduct or ditch, is cited by Herodotus (Histories 3.60), without whom it would not have been discovered.

In 1992, the Eupalinian ditch was included in UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list.
(source: ana-mpa)

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Eldorado Reports Olympias Phase II Improved Concentrate Sales Terms and Commissioning on Track

VANCOUVER, March 28, 2017 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation, (“Eldorado” or “the Company”) today reported that it has received multiple tenders for significantly better concentrate sales terms at Olympias Phase II (“Phase II”), where wet commissioning at the project is currently underway.

Improved Concentrate Sales Terms
The Company is pleased to announce that it has received multiple tenders for significantly better concentrate sales terms for material produced beyond 2017. Under the new sales terms, gold payability rates have increased from 58% up to a maximum of 71%, which is expected to result in an increase of approximately 15,000 ounces of payable gold production per year.  Annual Phase II production is now estimated to be approximately 85,000 ounces of gold (from 72,000 ounces per year previously) plus approximately 55,000 ounces of gold equivalent production.

Commissioning
The construction of Phase II is substantially complete and commissioning has commenced. Addition of low grade ore to the crushing circuit is expected next week. Pre-commissioning of the main flotation plant equipment is underway and ore will be introduced in April. Deliveries of first-fill reagents, grinding media, critical and operational spares are on schedule to support second quarter pre-commercial production.

Underground
Mined ore has been moved to the surface stockpile adjacent to the crusher for commissioning of the processing facility. Underground development is well positioned to support 2017 production guidance with fourteen stopes in ore on nine different levels complete and ready for extraction. Ore mining will begin shortly in both the east and west ore zones using a drift-and-fill mining method.

Phase II Overview
Phase II involves processing ore from the underground at a rate of approximately 400,000 tonnes per year. The new processing facility includes new processing equipment within the pre-existing plant building to produce three concentrates: lead-silver, zinc and gold bearing pyrite-arsenopyrite.  In 2017, the Olympias mine is budgeted to process 267,000 tonnes of ore at grades of 9.6 grams per tonne gold, 3.4% lead, 3.4% zinc and 105 grams per tonne silver.

Paul Skayman, Eldorado’s Chief Operating Officer, commented: “After a lot of hard work by our team in Greece, we are all very excited to now be at this juncture with commissioning and we expect to declare commercial production from Olympias Phase II in the third quarter”.

About Eldorado Gold
Eldorado is a leading low cost gold producer with mining, development and exploration operations in Turkey, Greece, Romania, Serbia and Brazil.  The Company’s success to date is based on a low cost strategy, a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, safe and responsible operations, and long-term partnerships with the communities where it operates.  Eldorado’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX: ELD) and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE: EGO).

Cautionary Note about Forward-looking Statements and Information

Certain of the statements made and information provided in this press release are forward-looking statements or information within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws. Often, these forward-looking statements and forward-looking information can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “expects”,  “is expected”, “budget”, “continue”, “projected”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates”, or “believes” or the negatives thereof or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved.

Forward-looking statements or information contained in this release include, but are not limited to the Company’s Reported Olympias Phase II Improved Concentrate Sales Terms and Commissioning on Track, including statements or information with respect to: our guidance and outlook, including expected production, projected cash cost, our expectation as to our future financial and operating performance, including estimated cash costs, expected metallurgical recoveries, gold price outlook and our strategy, plans and goals, including our proposed development, construction, permitting and operating plans and priorities, and related timelines.

Forward-looking statements and forward-looking information by their nature are based on assumptions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information. 

We have made certain assumptions about the forward-looking statements and information, including assumptions about the geopolitical, economic, permitting and legal climate that we operate in; the future price of gold and other commodities; exchange rates; anticipated costs and expenses; production, mineral reserves and resources and metallurgical recoveries, the impact of acquisitions, dispositions, suspensions or delays on our business and the ability to achieve our goals.  In particular, except where otherwise stated, we have assumed a continuation of existing business operations on substantially the same basis as exists at the time of this release.

Even though our management believes that the assumptions made and the expectations represented by such statements or information are reasonable, there can be no assurance that the forward-looking statement or information will prove to be accurate. Many assumptions may be difficult to predict and are beyond our control.  

Furthermore, should one or more of the risks, uncertainties or other factors materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in forward-looking statements or information.  These risks, uncertainties and other factors include, among others, the following:  geopolitical and economic climate (global and local), risks related to mineral tenure and permits; gold and other metal price volatility; mining operational and development risk; foreign country operational risks; risks of sovereign investment; regulatory environment and restrictions, including environmental regulatory restrictions and liability; discrepancies between actual and estimated production, mineral reserves and resources and metallurgical recoveries; risks related to impact of the sale of our Chinese assets on the Company’s operations; additional funding requirements; currency fluctuations; litigation risks; community and non-governmental organization actions; speculative nature of gold exploration; dilution; share price volatility; competition; loss of key employees; and defective title to mineral claims or property, as well as those factors discussed in the sections entitled “Forward-Looking Statements” and “Risk factors in our business” in the Company’s  most recent Annual Information Form & Form 40-F. The reader is directed to carefully review the detailed risk discussion in our most recent Annual Information Form filed on SEDAR under our Company name, which discussion is incorporated by reference in this release, for a fuller understanding of the risks and uncertainties that affect the Company’s business and operations.

There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements or information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.  Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements or information contained herein.  Except as required by law, we do not expect to update forward-looking statements and information continually as conditions change and you are referred to the full discussion of the Company’s business contained in the Company’s reports filed with the securities regulatory authorities in Canada and the U.S.

Except as otherwise noted, scientific and technical information contained in this press release was reviewed and approved by Paul Skayman, FAusIMM, Chief Operating Officer for Eldorado Gold Corporation, and a “qualified person” as defined by Canadian Securities Administrators’ National Instrument 43-101 – Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects (“NI 43-101”).

SOURCE Eldorado Gold Corporation

Mar 28, 2017

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Building a gold mining industry in Greece

The European Union (EU) is one of the world’s largest consumers of raw materials. Yet despite having areas of vast mineral wealth, few are developed and valuable resources (estimated to be worth about €100 billion!) remain in the ground. As a result, the EU has a raw material shortage and it imports nearly 60% of the bulk metals it uses.

In terms of gold, the EU accounted for only 2% of the world’s gold production in 2015. At Eldorado Gold, we are working to grow this percentage and help reduce the EU’s reliance on more expensive imports.

The World Gold Council estimates a single mobile device contains up to 50 milligrams of gold. At a gold price of $1,200 per ounce, that’s almost US$2 per phone!

 

A Greek gold mining renaissance

Together with our Greek subsidiary, Hellas Gold, we are at the forefront of building a leading gold mining jurisdiction in northern Greece. The Skouries and Olympias assets we are developing will help to make Greece one of the largest gold producing nations in the EU.

“We see huge potential to build long-term opportunities,” says Eduardo Moura, our Vice President and General Manager of Greece operations. “These mines are creating jobs, improving local infrastructure, paying taxes and generating export revenues.”

Eldorado’s Greek assets lie in the Western Tethyan Belt, a prospective belt of rocks in eastern Europe often described as “overlooked,” “under-explored” and “highly prospective.” Together, the Skouries and Olympias deposits hold a proven and probable reserve base of 7.8 million ounces of gold among significant amounts of other metals.

 

Committed to responsible gold mining

Greece has a rich history of mining. The gold deposits of northern Greece funded Alexander the Great’s conquests and an empire that, at its peak, stretched across three continents. But Greece’s significant mineral endowment, particularly its gold resources, has largely gone undeveloped in modern times.

“All eyes are on us to demonstrate that mining can be done responsibly, with utmost care for the safety and security of our people, our neighbours and the environment,” says Paul Wright, Eldorado’s President and CEO. “Ensuring people understand our approach, our commitment to community benefits and sustainable mining practices, takes time, patience and a lot of dialogue.”

Our Chief Operating Officer, Paul Skayman echoes this sentiment. “It is important for us to get these projects done right or we won’t be welcome to work in Greece, or anywhere else for that matter, for long.”

Eldorado’s commitment to excellence means local communities and host nations benefit from our:

  • use of industry best practices;
  • strict adherence to safety and environmental regulations;
  • maintaining systems to identify, manage, audit and remedy potential impacts; and
  • commitment to building vibrant communities near our sites.

See how we put our promises into practice from exploration to mine closure in our stories on our website.

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The way for hydrocarbon prospecting in Western Greece is opened

The way is opened for the ratification by the Parliament and the activation of the contracts regarding hydrocarbon prospecting in the regions of Aitoloakarnania and of Northwestern Peloponnese, as the ministry of Environment and Energy approved last Thursday the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of the prospecting in the two regions.


For NW Peloponnese, Hellenic Petroleum has been declared as “selected applicant”, as has been Energean for Aitoloakarnania (Hellenic Petroleum has been declared as “selected applicant” for the Arta-Preveza region also that has been included in the same tender and for which Energean had also submitted a tender file). After the approval by the ministry, the control of the contract by the Court of Auditors is expected to proceed.

The area which is under concession in NW Peloponnese is of 3,778.3 square kilometers and includes parts of the Regional Units of Achaia, Arcadia and Ilia, while in Aitoloakarnania the respective area is 4,360.3 square kilometers, mainly in the Regional Unit of Aitoloakarnania and partly in the one of Evritania.
The approval decisions include a series of measures for the protection of the environment in the aforementioned areas. For example, it is provided to maintain a protection zone of 350 meters from the coastline and 300 meters from each side of the basic hydrographic network of the area in SW Peloponnese (500 meters in Aitoloakarnania) within which it will not be allowed to site drillings for research, development and production, or processing or storage facilities, while the passing through of pipelines must also be minimized. Furthermore, there are protection measures for the areas that are visited by wild endemic and migratory fauna species, and it is also provided that the research and prospecting works are avoided in tourist coastal areas during summer.

 

Source: ANA-MPA, March 05, 2017

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Where are the country’s gold reserves stored?

Where are the country’s gold reserves stored?

This question is answered by the “Kathimerini” newspaper in one of its articles, according to which, the reserves are stored in safe depots in Greece and abroad.

More particularly, approximately 50% of the reserves are stored in a treasury of the Bank of Greece and the rest 50%, at the Bank of England, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the U.S.A. and in Switzerland.

In more detail they are divided as follows: 29% in the U.S.A., 20% in the United Kingdom, 4% in Switzerland and 47% in Greece, securing thus the coverage of national needs in possible exceptional circumstances while the storage of part of the country’s gold abroad consists an international practice for almost all of the Central Banks. Therefore, this is not an original practice.

“According to the most recent data of the Bank of Greece, the current needs in gold of Greece are about 149.1 tons and their value amounts to 5,261.8 million Euros. As is ascertained by executives of the supervisory authority, in the last years there has been no change in the quantity of gold, with the exception of a small fluctuation due to transactions with the public regarding the trade of gold sovereigns”, as is mentioned in the article.

Another interesting detail, as is pointed out, is the fact that, according to the balance sheet items of the Bank of Greece, “the amount of gold that has been transferred to the European Central Bank, after the country’s accession to the Eurozone and the participation of the Bank of Greece to the Eurosystem, is very small compared to the total gold reserves”.

A similar transfer has been performed by every country that participates to the Eurozone. The decision of the Bank of Greece in 2003 to sell 20 tons of gold of its reserves was part of the more efficient management of its portfolio, a policy that was pursued by most of the European Central Banks. This liquidation just led to a differentiation of the portfolio of the Bank of Greece and regarded part of the quantity of gold that has been collected by the currency markets”.

It is also interesting that, since 2000, the Bank of Greece has converted its reserves into gold bars that follow international standards, in order to make their management easier.

Of course, as it is remarked in “Kathimerini”, “the stories about our country’s gold reserves are many. The most famous, however, is the one that has to do with February 1941, when the management of the Bank of Greece has managed, in a reckless action, to load the valuable reserves it had on vessels of the Hellenic Navy, in order to transport them secretly to its branch of Heraklion, Crete. A few days before the entry of the German troops into Athens, in April 1941, the governor of the Bank of Greece Kyriakos Varvaresos and deputy governor Georgios Mantzavinos abandoned, along with the political leadership, the capital of Greece, going to Crete. Subsequently, the management and the gold were transferred to Cairo and short afterwards the transfer of the gold reserves to Pretoria was deemed appropriate. Thus, the mortgage for the future reconstitution of the drachma was registered. Finally, after a “stopover” in London, the gold reserves returned to Greece after the war”.

 

Published: HuffPost Greece 05/03/2017  Source:  Kathimerini
 

 

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Greek factories still awaiting promised revival

Among the promises that propelled leftist SYRIZA to power two years ago was a commitment to revive domestic industry. Even after the government signed Greece’s third bailout agreement in the summer of 2015, the promises kept coming thick and fast. The deputy industry minister at the time, Theodora Tzakri, even drafted a plan for the industrial revival that foresaw the return to operation of 166 shuttered factories.

Two years on, the record of the SYRIZA-Independent Greeks coalition in industry is negligible at best. According to 2016 data from the Labor Ministry’s Ergani database for employment, four of the five activities with the most negative net employment balance in the past year have been in the industrial sector: the food industry, mining and quarrying, specialized construction activities, and non-mineral product manufacturing.

Among the cases that the government cited – and invested heavily from a communications standpoint – was Shelman wood product manufacturer, United Textiles and Hellenic Fertilizers (ELFE). In all these cases, the harsh reality remains far removed from the government’s promises.

United Textiles has been bankrupt since 2012. The company’s resurrection faced a number of legal and financial obstacles, yet this did not prevent Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government from announcing in July 2015 that four units, in Komotini and Noussa in northern Greece, would be back in operation that autumn. This deadline, of course, was missed but the government did not give up and on December 30, 2015, it issued a legislative act suspending the liquidation of the company’s assets for another six months.

Any hopes that remain of the United Textiles factories ever operating again rest on abandoning the plan to bring the company back to life and finding a new investor to buy its assets. According to Yiannis Mousoulidis, the company’s last CEO before it went bankrupt, the Luxembourg-based Aiglon investment fund has already surveyed 65 percent of the company’s facilities. “As soon as that process is completed and it has assessed the company’s assets, it will submit an investment proposal within two weeks.”

Mousoulidis said “a written commitment to the council of creditors” already exists to this effect, while adding that the fund (which also consists of Greeks) will fully implement the operational plan he and other former employees have drafted.

This remains to be seen, however, as there is also the issue of a European Commission ruling according to which the Greek state must recoup 30 million euros in illegal state subsidies given to the company.

The case of Shelman, which went under in April 2014, is proving equally thorny. Its plant in Komotini has been managed for the past year by a group of former workers (there were more than 90 before it shut down). “We guard the facility and take care of the necessary maintenance,” says Nikos Alexandridis, the head of the workers’ group. In October 2015, the bankruptcy court ruled that the factory could be auctioned off after a Greek investor expressed interest.

The evaluation of the Komotini facility took six months and was completed in March 2016, settling on a value of 11-12 million euros. The preparation of the public auction took an additional eight months.

“It took judges four months to approve the decision by the council of creditors to put the factory up for auction,” says Giorgos Kymparidis, head of the Rodopi Bar Association and the workers’ legal representative. “When it was eventually issued it was the middle of summer and we had to wait until September to get things moving again.”

According to Kymparidis, beyond the first potential investor, others have shown an interest in the facility. This has failed to materialize, however, in consecutive weekly auctions held since early December.

Explosive chemistry

ELFE, meanwhile, is steeped in controversy and tension. Nikos Vogiatzidis, who represents 180 sacked workers, tells Kathimerini that businessman Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, who took control of the company in 2009, transferred all its operations to two new companies in 2015, leaving to ELFE only its massive debts. Then, last March, says Vogiatzidis, “we [the workers] were asked to sign a buyout agreement – the compensation was one month’s salary plus 1,000 euros to be paid in installments – with the possibility of being rehired at the new companies on individual 14-month contracts.”

Vogiatzidis said that those who refused to sign were sued by the company for a number of reasons, including sabotage of company property. After the suits were filed, “we were fired without compensation and without the ability to claim unemployment benefits,” he claims.

Those who signed the buyout agreement are on fixed-term contracts (there are more than 400 now) and in open confrontation with the sacked workers. Meanwhile, on December 30, production was transferred to yet another new company, called Nea Karvali Fertilizers.

Following months of unrealistic promises from the government, the Labor Ministry is expected next week to send the agency responsible for the Nea Karvali Fertilizers plant’s operating license (the Regional Authority of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace) a scathing report on safety violations found at the unit. This report looms as yet another bump in the course of the company’s turbulent history.

source: ekathimerini.com, Yannis Palaiologos

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The Ancient Mines of Samos

In Mytilene, one of the largest villages in Samos, in an area called Koutsodontis, there are 45 caves in the hillside. These are all entrances to Ancient Mines. The lowest caves are 147 meters above sea level, and visitors can enjoy a beautiful view of the valley around Chora when they reach them.

11905402_1166028026746697_8373136490076962702_nAll the entrances are supported by man-made carved columns which bear witness to the accuracy of the studies made before work began, the well-planned layout and the careful construction of each and every entrance in such a way as to keep the mountain above the entrances stable.

For thousands of years, time, wind and rain have ravaged these ancient structures and washed the traces and the sweat of humanity from the carved faces of the columns. So today they stand to be admired, both as works of art and feats of engineering.

Inside one of these entrances there is a hole which leads into the hillside. Explorers have found 8 levels of mining tunnels, all of which are also supported by columns. They also measured the maximum depth as being 70 meters. All the levels are 1 km long.

It is very probable that the history of this place hides many more surprises for us to discover. However there are already reliable reports about its use in the past.

2According to Herman Kienast, an architect with the German Archaeological Institute, former supervisor of the archaeological excavations at the Temple of Hera, and expert on the Tunnel of Eupalinos (or Eupalion Aqueduct), building materials for the construction of the great Temple of Hera and for other buildings in the sanctum area and in the ancient city of Samos (nowadays Pythagorion) were mined here in ancient times.

The engraved pieces of rock which are still visible on the floor of the mine today are undisputed evidence of this mining activity.

The “Samiaka” newspaper also reported that during the 1821 Greek War of Independence this place functioned as a “Nitrate Mine” where a monk named Ignatius manufactured gunpowder using nitrates. Unfortunately, in modern times, the mine has not received attention commensurate with its importance and historical value.

However, it is significant that since 2002 the Greek Ministry of Culture has, following the advice of the Greek Central Archaeological Council, conducted topographic surveys, measurements, and surface research on the area surrounding the ​​quarries. These are being carried out under the supervision of Maria Viglaki-Sofianou, an archaeologist from the 21st Ephorate of Prehistoric and Classic Antiquities, with the cooperation of the architect, Ioannis Mitsoulis (an employee of the same Ephorate). The architect Herman Kienast also takes part in the research on behalf of the German Archaeological Institute.

During recent years, fires destroyed the surrounding forest which had acted as a “protective shield” for the site by stabilising the ground. Today, erosion has affected the soil, and if action is not taken there is a danger that the site will be destroyed.

Recently, the Prefecture and the Municipality of Pythagorion have attempted to clean up the surrounding area. This effort was supported by the Speleological Association of Samos “EUPALINOS”.

This archaeological site, which is unique on a global scale in terms of how deep it reaches into the mountain and its architecture, “is crying out” for us to take an interest in it, to save it and to promote it.

Following a study on landscaping the site made by the Greek Ministry of Culture, all 45 entrances to the quarries can now be visited by tourists. They have been linked by an impressive path which starts from the top of the hill and passes in front of all the entrances until it reaches the north entrance of the Tunnel of Eupalinos and the Springs of Agiadon, the water of which was channelled through the tunnel.

If action taken by the local authorities was coordinated with special studies and was integrated into relevant European programmes, it would be possible to undertake work which would allow visitors to go inside all 45 caves, thereby highlighting another remarkable ancient work of Samos. Speleological Association of Samos “EUPALINOS”

[ΠΗΓΗ: http://my-samos.blogspot.gr/, http://www.samos-caves.gr/, http://www.visaltis.net/, photographs Christos Vasileias, Ιpponax Apollodoros]

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EIT RawMaterials: 1st Greek Raw Materials Community Dialogue

EIT Raw Materials brings together more than 100 partners – academic and research institutions, as well as businesses – from more than 20 EU countries. Within the framework of EIT Raw Materials they can work together to find new, innovative solutions to ensure the supply and improve the sector of raw materials through all the stages of the value chain – from extraction to processing, recycling and reusing multiple primary and secondary products.

There are already six (6) active regional centers in Belgium, Finland, France, Italy, Poland and Sweden (Co-location centers), representing regional links between business, research and education.

Website: http://www.eitrawmaterials.eu/ Email: info@eitrawmaterials.eu

EIT Raw Materials has an ambitious vision to transform the challenge of dependence on raw materials into a strategic strength for Europe. Its mission is to boost the competitiveness, development and attractiveness of the European sector of raw materials through radical innovation and entrepreneurship.

The six regional centers in Belgium (in Leuven, Belgium), Finland (in Espoo, Finland), France (in Metz, France), Italy (in Rome, Italy), Poland (in Wroclaw, Poland) and Sweden (in Luleå, Sweden), are called co-location centers and they represent different regional ecosystems that create a link between business, research and education.

The Metallurgical Laboratory of the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) and EIT RawMaterials(KIC) organized the “EIT RawMaterials: 1st Greek Raw Materials Community Dialogue” on 23-24 November in ElectraMetropolis Hotel.

In an attempt to highlight the needs and problems of the Mineral Resources sector, there was massive participation by all those involved in the industry (state, academia, businesses) at the first open debate on strengthening the position of the sector in the national and European economic landscape.

Issues relating to technological lag, as well as innovation, European, national and regional policy strategy, financing mechanisms and tools at a national and European level and proposals for the development of new tools and mechanisms to strengthen the sector were the main subjects of the presentations and dialogue.

Moreover, there was also a special presentation announcing a Support Centre for the Greek Raw Materials Community (GRAMASC), based in the NTUA, which,due to its dynamic presence,may act as the communication “antechamber” for requests, proposals, etc., addressed to the IET by the Greek community.

The most interesting presentations made during the conference by Greek and foreign scientists will be presented in a forthcoming article.

[SOURCE: http://www.oryktosploutos.net/, editing by PetrosTzeferis, 25/11/2016]

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As markets rally, should you still hold gold?

Trump’s election victory has tempered demand for the yellow metal

A desire to hold “real assets” in turbulent times has massively boosted the popularity of gold-backed exchange traded funds (ETFs). But following the biggest political upset of the year — Donald Trump’s US presidential victory — gold prices have gone into reverse.

After a brief rally following last week’s election result, gold ended the week down 5.2 per cent at $1,234.50 a troy ounce as the dollar rallied, and investors ditched traditional haven assets. In contrast, gold rose by $100 a troy ounce in the two weeks following the Brexit vote in June.

That was a disappointment for investors in the yellow metal, who have ploughed a record $64.5bn into gold-backed ETFs this year, according to the World Gold Council. In the third quarter, 78 per cent of the inflows were into European-based products according to their data.

The direction of future gold prices greatly depends on whether that investor flow stabilises — and, if not, whether demand from India and China, the two largest consumers, could help support the price.

Gold is still up 16 per cent this year in dollar terms, and 36 per cent measured in pounds. That compares with a return of about 12 per cent for the FTSE 100 index (with dividends reinvested) and about 4.68 per cent for the FTSE All-World Index.

Global markets avoided the feared “Trump slump”, with equities rallying on hopes the president-elect would boost spending and growth in the US economy. But gold could still benefit from his plans to boost infrastructure, according to analysts.

“Mr Trump’s policies could result in bigger public deficits, this could mean higher inflation and be supportive of gold,” says Jim Steel, an analyst at HSBC in New York.

Political uncertainty is also not going away. Investors in Europe are now turning their attention to elections next year in Germany and France, according to Alistair Hewitt, head of market intelligence at the World Gold Council.

“In Europe, we’ve got a very active political calendar next year and investors are thinking about the implications of that,” he said.

Still, the outlook for gold is likely to be heavily determined by the central banks — especially the Federal Reserve.
ECB policymakers are widely expected to extend their quantitative easing scheme by six months in December. The possibility of a US rate rise in the same month — which markets had been discounting before the election — now looks a distinct possibility. If the Fed goes ahead with a second increase, this could hit gold prices (rates rising will mean a stronger dollar and that is usually associated with falling commodity prices).

Another concern is that actual physical demand for gold in the form of jewellery and gold bars remains weak in the two largest consuming nations of India and China. Consumer gold demand fell by 22 per cent in China in the third quarter and 28 per cent in India, according to the World Gold Council.

Still, the two countries are likely to buy if the price of gold continues to dip, according to Mr Hewitt. A fifth of consumers in China and a third India are waiting for a further price dip according to their surveys, he says.

“If the price does dip there are plenty of consumers in the two large markets who will dive in,” he says.

Gold demand in China could also pick up ahead of the week long New Year holiday next January, when most Chinese return home with gifts. A property downturn in the country could also shift money to gold, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

James Butterfill, head of research at ETF Securities in London, remains convinced that ETF demand is relatively stable. The company has seen $4.3bn of inflows into gold products this year, with only about $110,000 going into products betting that the gold price will fall, he says.

That is different to gold’s last rally between 2007 and 2012, when there were strong investment flows into products that benefit if the gold price declines, he says.

“Investors are buying and holding on to gold,” he says. “The contrarian in you could see this as a great contrarian trade but it is driven by a lack of faith in monetary policy and political uncertainty.”

source:www.ft.com

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In the birthplace of democracy, Obama extols its virtues

Closing his two-day trip to Athens on Wednesday, after visiting the Acropolis and its museum, US President Barack Obama delivered a spirited valedictory speech praising democracy, noting the threats that it faces, and urging the world’s citizens to work for solutions in the future.

Speaking at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center on the capital’s southern coast, Obama addressed the world, noting that this was his last foreign trip as president. But he also addressed Greece, noting the suffering and sacrifices caused by the economic crisis. Above all, however, Barack Obama stood before history and presented his understanding of a world which he helped shape over the past eight years and which is now at a critical point, demanding solutions to pressing problems that many nations face – alone and collectively.

Here are excerpts from his speech:

As many of you know, this is my final trip overseas as president of the United States, and I was determined, on my last trip, to come to Greece – partly because I’ve heard about the legendary hospitality of the Greek people – your philoxenia, partly because I had to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon, but also because I came here with gratitude for all that Greece – “this small, great world” – has given to humanity through the ages.

…We’re indebted to Greece for the most precious of gifts – the truth, the understanding that as individuals of free will, we have the right and the capacity to govern ourselves. For it was here, 25 centuries ago, in the rocky hills of this city, that a new idea emerged. Demokratia. Kratos – the power, the right to rule – comes from demos – the people. The notion that we are citizens – not servants, but stewards of our society. The concept of citizenship – that we have both rights and responsibilities. The belief in equality before the law – not just for a few, but for the many; not just for the majority, but also the minority. These are all concepts that grew out of this rocky soil.

Of course, the earliest forms of democracy here in Athens were far from perfect – just as the early forms of democracy in the United States were far from perfect. The rights of ancient Athens were not extended to women or to slaves. But Pericles explained, “Our constitution favors the many instead of the few… this is why it is called a democracy.”

Athenians also knew that, however noble, ideas alone were not enough. To have meaning, principles must be enshrined in laws and protected by institutions, and advanced through civic participation. And so they gathered in a great assembly to debate and decide affairs of state, each citizen with the right to speak, casting their vote with a show of hands, or choosing a pebble – white for yes, black for no. Laws were etched in stone for all to see and abide by. Courts, with citizen jurors, upheld that rule of law.

Politicians weren’t always happy because sometimes the stones could be used to ostracize, banish those who did not behave themselves.

But across the millennia that followed, different views of power and governance have often prevailed. Throughout human history, there have been those who argue that people cannot handle democracy, that they cannot handle self-determination, they need to be told what to do. A ruler has to maintain order through violence or coercion or an iron fist. There’s been a different concept of government that says might makes right, or that unchecked power can be passed through bloodlines. There’s been the belief that some are superior by virtue of race or faith or ethnicity, and those beliefs so often have been used to justify conquest and exploitation and war.

But through all this history, the flame first lit here in Athens never died. It was ultimately nurtured by a great Enlightenment. It was fanned by America’s founders, who declared that “We, the People” shall rule; that all men are created equal and endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights.

Ideals challenged

Now, at times, even today, those ideals are challenged. We’ve been told that these are Western ideals. We’ve been told that some cultures are not equipped for democratic governance and actually prefer authoritarian rule. And I will say that after eight years of being president of the United States, having traveled around the globe, it is absolutely true that every country travels its own path, every country has its own traditions. But what I also believe, after eight years, is that the basic longing to live with dignity, the fundamental desire to have control of our lives and our future, and to want to be a part of determining the course of our communities and our nations – these yearnings are universal. They burn in every human heart…

Now, democracy, like all human institutions, is imperfect. It can be slow; it can be frustrating; it can be hard; it can be messy. Politicians tend to be unpopular in democracies, regardless of party, because, by definition, democracies require that you don’t get a hundred percent of what you want. It requires compromise. Winston Churchill famously said that democracy is the worst form of government – except for all the others. And in a multiethnic, multiracial, multicultural society, like the United States, democracy can be especially complicated. Believe me, I know.

But it is better than the alternatives because it allows us to peacefully work through our differences and move closer to our ideals. It allows us to test new ideas and it allows us to correct for mistakes…

And so here, where democracy was born, we affirm once more the rights and the ideals and the institutions upon which our way of life endures. Freedom of speech and assembly – because true legitimacy can only come from the people, who must never be silenced. A free press to expose injustice and corruption and hold leaders accountable. Freedom of religion – because we’re all equal in the eyes of God. Independent judiciaries to uphold rule of law and human rights. Separation of powers to limit the reach of any one branch of government. Free and fair elections – because citizens must be able to choose their own leaders, even if your candidate doesn’t always win.

We compete hard in campaigns in America and here in Greece. But after the election, democracy depends on a peaceful transition of power, especially when you don’t get the result you want.

And as you may have noticed, the next American president and I could not be more different. We have very different points of view, but American democracy is bigger than any one person. That’s why we have a tradition of the outgoing president welcoming the new one in – as I did last week. And why, in the coming weeks, my administration will do everything we can to support the smoothest transition possible – because that’s how democracy has to work.

And that’s why, as hard as it can be sometimes, it’s important for young people, in particular, who are just now becoming involved in the lives of their countries, to understand that progress follows a winding path – sometimes forward, sometimes back – but as long as we retain our faith in democracy, as long as we retain our faith in the people, as long as we don’t waver from those central principles that ensure a lively, open debate, then our future will be OK, because it remains the most effective form of government ever devised by man.

It is true, of course, over the last several years that we’ve seen democracies faced with serious challenges. And I want to mention two that have an impact here in Greece, have an impact in the United States, and are having an impact around the world.

Globalization

The first involves the paradox of a modern, global economy. The same forces of globalization and technology and integration that have delivered so much progress, have created so much wealth, have also revealed deep fault lines. Around the world, integration and closer cooperation, and greater trade and commerce, and the internet – all have improved the lives of billions of people – lifted families from extreme poverty, cured diseases, helped people live longer, gave them more access to education and opportunity than at any time in human history.

… The world has never, collectively, been wealthier, better educated, healthier, less violent than it is today. That’s hard to imagine, given what we see in the news, but it’s true. And a lot of that has to do with the developments of an integrated, global economy…

What we’ve also seen is that this global integration is increasing the tendencies towards inequality, both between nations and within nations, at an accelerated pace. And when we see people – global elites, wealthy corporations – seemingly living by a different set of rules, avoiding taxes, manipulating loopholes – when the rich and the powerful appear to game the system and accumulate vast wealth while middle- and working-class families struggle to make ends meet, this feeds a profound sense of injustice and a feeling that our economies are increasingly unfair…

… In advanced economies, there are at times movements from both the left and the right to put a stop to integration, and to push back against technology, and to try to bring back jobs and industries that have been disappearing for decades. So this impulse to pull back from a globalized world is understandable. If people feel that they’re losing control of their future, they will push back. We have seen it here in Greece. We’ve seen it across Europe. We’ve seen it in the United States. We saw it in the vote in Britain to leave the EU.

But given the nature of technology, it is my assertion that it’s not possible to cut ourselves off from one another…

Course correction

We cannot sever the connections that have enabled so much progress and so much wealth. For when competition for resources is perceived as zero-sum, we put ourselves on a path to conflict both within countries and between countries. So I firmly believe that the best hope for human progress remains open markets combined with democracy and human rights. But I have argued that the current path of globalization demands a course correction. In the years and decades ahead, our countries have to make sure that the benefits of an integrated global economy are more broadly shared by more people, and that the negative impacts are squarely addressed.

And we actually know the path to building more inclusive economies. It’s just we too often don’t have the political will or desire to get it done…

These are the kinds of policies, this is the work that I’ve pursued throughout my time as president. Keep in mind I took office in the midst of the worst crisis since the Great Depression. And we pursued a recovery that has been shared now by the vast majority of Americans…

Now, I say all this not because we’ve solved every problem. Our work is far from complete. There are still too many people in America who are worried about their futures. Still too many people who are working at wages that don’t get them above the poverty line. Still too many young people who don’t see opportunity. But the policies I describe point the direction for where we need to go in building inclusive economies…

Greek crisis

Here in Greece, you’re undergoing similar transformations. The first step has been to build a foundation that allows you to return to robust economic growth. And we don’t need to recount all the causes of the economic crisis here in Greece. If we’re honest, we can acknowledge that it was a mix of both internal and external forces. The Greek economy and the level of debt had become unsustainable. And in this global economy, investment and jobs flow to countries where governments are efficient, not bloated, where the rules are clear. To stay competitive, to attract investment that creates jobs, Greece had to start a reform process.

Of course, the world, I don’t think, fully appreciates the extraordinary pain these reforms have involved, or the tremendous sacrifices that you, the Greek people, have made. I’ve been aware of it, and I’ve been proud of all that my administration has done to try to support Greece in these efforts. And part of the purpose of my visit is to highlight for the world the important steps that have been taken here in Greece…

At the same time, I will continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to put Greece on a path towards sustained economic recovery. As Greece continues to implement reforms, the IMF has said that debt relief will be crucial to get Greece back to growth. They are right. It is important because if reforms here are going to be sustained, people need to see hope, and they need to see progress. And the young people who are in attendance here today and all across the country need to know there is a future – there is an education and jobs that are worthy of your incredible potential. You don’t have to travel overseas, you can put roots right here in your home, in Greece, and succeed.

And I’m confident that if you stay the course, as hard as it has been, Greece will see brighter days. Because, in this magnificent hall and center – this symbol of the Greek culture and resilience – we’re reminded that just as your strength and resolve have allowed you to overcome great odds throughout your history, nothing can break the spirit of the Greek people. You will overcome this period of challenge just as you have other challenges in the past.

Ensuring rights

So economics is something that will be central to preserving our democracies. When our economies don’t work, our democracies become distorted and, in some cases, break down. But this brings me to another pressing challenge that our democracies face – how do we ensure that our diverse, multicultural, multiracial, multi-religious world and our diverse nations uphold both the rights of individuals and a fundamental civic adherence to a common creed that binds us together.

Democracy is simplest where everybody thinks alike, looks alike, eats the same food, worships the same God. Democracy becomes more difficult when there are people coming from a variety of backgrounds and trying to live together. In our globalized world, with the migration of people and the rapid movement of ideas and cultures and traditions, we see increasingly this blend of forces mixing together in ways that often enrich our societies but also cause tensions…

So, just as we have to have an inclusive economic strategy, we have to have an exclusive political and cultural strategy. In all of our capitals, we have to keep making government more efficient, more effective in responding to the daily needs of citizens. Governing institutions, whether in Athens, Brussels, London, Washington, have to be responsive to the concerns of citizens. People have to know that they’re being heard.

Here in Europe, even with today’s challenges, I believe that by virtue of the progress it has delivered over the decades – the stability it has provided, the security it’s reinforced – that European integration and the European Union remains one of the great political and economic achievements of human history. And today more than ever, the world needs a Europe that is strong and prosperous and democratic.

But I think all institutions in Europe have to ask themselves: How can we make sure that people within individual countries feel as if their voices are still being heard, that their identities are being affirmed, that the decisions that are being made that will have a critical impact on their lives are not so remote that they have no ability to impact them?…

In closing, our globalized world is passing through a time of profound change. Yes, there is uncertainty and there is unease, and none of us can know the future. History does not move in a straight line. Civil rights in America did not move in a straight line. Democracy in Greece did not move in a straight line. The evolution of a unified Europe certainly has not moved in a straight line. And progress is never a guarantee. Progress has to be earned by every generation. But I believe history gives us hope.

Twenty-five centuries after Athens first pointed the way, 250 years after the beginning of the great American journey, my faith and my confidence, my certainty in our democratic ideals and universal values remain undiminished. I believe more strongly than ever that Dr King was right when he said that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” But it bends towards justice not because it is inevitable, but because we bend it towards justice; not because there are not going to be barriers to achieving justice, but because there will be people, generation after generation, who have the vision and the courage and the will to bend the arc of our lives in the direction of a better future.

In the United States, and in every place I have visited these last eight years, I have met citizens, especially young people, who have chosen hope over fear, who believe that they can shape their own destiny, who refuse to accept the world as it is and are determined to remake it as it should be. They have inspired me.

In every corner of the world, I have met people who, in their daily lives, demonstrate that despite differences of race or religion or creed or color, we have the capacity to see each other in ourselves. Like the woman here in Greece who said of the refugees arriving on these shores: “We live under the same sun. We fall in love under the same moon. We are all human – we have to help these people.” Women like that give me hope.

In all of our communities, in all of our countries, I still believe there’s more of what Greeks call philotimo – love and respect and kindness for family and community and country, and a sense that we’re all in this together, with obligations to each other. Philotimo – I see it every day – and that gives me hope.

Because in the end, it is up to us. It’s not somebody else’s job, it’s not somebody else’s responsibility, but it’s the citizens of our countries and citizens of the world to bend that arc of history towards justice.

And that’s what democracy allows us to do. That’s why the most important office in any country is not president or prime minister. The most important title is “citizen…”

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Obama visits the Acropolis ahead of set-piece speech

President Barack Obama started his final day in Greece with a tour of the Acropolis, the nation’s most famous ancient monument.

A picture posted by the US Embassy on Twitter showed Obama during a private tour on the ancient citadel by Dr Eleni Banou of the Greek Ministry of Culture.

The ancient site will remain closed to the public for the day to accommodate the president’s visit.

Obama will also deliver a speech to the Greek people as he winds up the first leg of his final foreign tour as president and heads from Greece to Germany.

The president is expected to touch on both the country’s efforts to emerge from its financial crisis, and on its role in dealing with hundreds of thousands of refugees who have crossed Greece’s borders on their way to more prosperous European countries.

Obama’s visit to Greece is the first official visit by a sitting US president since Bill Clinton. [Combined reports]

source: ekathimerini.com
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Remarks from Obama visit to Greece

On the eve of his last foreign trip as US head of state, President Barack Obama on Monday outlined the purpose of his visit to Greece and Germany, saying that this is part of an effort to help stabilize the global economy. In Greece Tuesday, in remarks with President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the American president spoke also of issues that are important for Athens: the Greek economy and the need for debt relief, efforts to solve the Cyprus issue, the refugee crisis and NATO. Below are excerpts from President Obama’s remarks.

Purpose of the trip

Our work has also helped to stabilize the global economy… I’ll spend this week reinforcing America’s support for the approaches that we’ve taken to promote economic growth and global security on a range of issues.

I look forward to my first visit in Greece. And then, in Germany, I’ll visit with Chancellor Merkel, who’s probably been my closest international partner these past eight years. I’ll also signal our solidarity with our closest allies, and express our support for a strong, integrated and united Europe. It’s essential to our national security and it’s essential to global stability. And that’s why the Transatlantic Alliance and the NATO Alliance have endured for decades under Democratic and Republican administrations…

In my conversation with the president-elect, he expressed a great interest in maintaining our core strategic relationships. And so one of the messages I will be able to deliver is his commitment to NATO and the Transatlantic Alliance. I think that’s one of the most important functions I can serve at this stage, during this trip, is to let them know that there is no weakening of resolve when it comes to America’s commitment to maintaining a strong and robust NATO relationship, and a recognition that those alliances aren’t just good for Europe, they’re good for the United States, and they’re vital for the world.

(Press conference in Washington on November 14, 2016)

Greece and the US

I’ve always wanted to come to Greece and I’m delighted to be able to make this part of my last trip overseas as president of the United States.

I think we all know that the world owes an enormous debt to Greece and the Greek people. So many of our ideas of democracy, so much of our literature and philosophy and science can be traced back to roots right here in Athens.

I’m told there’s a saying from those ancient times, kalos kai agathos, when someone or something is good and beautiful on the outside, but is also good and noble on the inside in terms of character and in terms of purpose. And I think that’s a fine description of the friendship that exists between the Greek people and the American people.

Now, the ideas of ancient Greece helped inspire America’s founding fathers as they reached for democracy. Our revolutionary ideas helped inspire Greeks as they sought their own freedom. And Americans came here to help fight for Greek independence. At the dawn of the Cold War, when President Truman committed the United States to the defense of Greece, he said, “I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.”

To this day, the United States is profoundly grateful for our friendship and alliance with Greece. And I’m personally very grateful to my many friends in the Greek-American community, sons and daughters of Ellines who have found success in every walk of American life.

(In remarks with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras)

Support for Greece

Obviously, Greece has gone through very challenging economic times over the last several years. And it has been the policy of my administration to do everything we can to work with the Greek government and the Greek people to restore growth and optimism and to alleviate hardship. And we are glad to see that progress is being made, although we recognize that there are significant challenges ahead, and we intend to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Greek people throughout this process.

And finally, whether it’s dealing with terrorism, addressing some of the challenges that are occurring in the Middle East, hosting our naval vessels, cooperation in the Aegean Sea, the strong NATO relationship between the United States in Greece is of the utmost importance. And I want to reaffirm not only our appreciation for the Greek people in that alliance, but underscore how important we consider the Transatlantic Alliance.

Support for Europe

We believe that a strong, prosperous and unified Europe is not only good for the people of Europe, but good for the world and good for the United States.

And we also believe that it’s important that all people have opportunity and inclusion in growth inside of Europe. And part of my message as I travel not just to Greece but to meet with other European leaders is to encourage a process that ensures opportunity for all, particularly for the youth of Europe and youth here in Greece.

The refugee crisis

I also want to extend the world’s appreciation for the humanitarian and compassionate manner that Greece has dealt with the severe migration and refugee crisis that’s been taking place.

As I said at the UN Summit on Refugees that I hosted in September, it’s important that we don’t have any single country bear the entire burden of these challenges – that all of us are contributing and participating in alleviating suffering and dealing with migration in an orderly and compassionate way. And we have been very glad to partner with the Greek government in managing this situation appropriately.

The need for debt relief

Our argument has always been that when the economy contracted this fast, when unemployment is this high, that there also has to be a growth agenda to go with it. And it is very difficult to imagine the kind of growth strategy that’s needed without some debt relief mechanism. Now, the politics of this are difficult in Europe. And I think in fairness to some of the governments up north that I know are not always popular here in Greece, it’s important to recognize that, you know, they have their own policies and their populations and their institutions often are resistant to some of these debt relief formulas.

But I think that having seen Greece begin many of these difficult steps toward structural reform, having shown a commitment to change, with the Greek people having endured some significant hardships for many years now, there should be an opportunity I think for both sides to recognize that if we can come up with a durable solution as opposed to each year or every six months having a new negotiation, that that could potentially be good for everyone.

And now that the Greek economy is growing again, the timing may be right.

We spent much of our time discussing the economic situation here in Greece and how Greece can continue to move forward. I know this has been a painful and difficult time, especially for Greek workers and families, pensioners and young people.

This crisis is not an obstruction, but has had a very concrete and devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across this country…

I’ve been clear from the beginning of this crisis that in order to make reforms sustainable, the Greek economy needs the space to return to growth and start creating jobs again. We cannot simply look to austerity as a strategy and it is incredibly important that the Greek people see improvements in their daily lives so that they can carry with them the hope that their lives will get better.

And in this context, as Greece continues reform, the IMF has said that debt relief is crucial. I will continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to put Greece on a path toward a durable economic recovery because it’s in all of our interests that Greece succeeds. We all want the Greek people to prosper, to be able to provide a good life for their families and their children. That would be good for Greece, that would be good for the European Union, good for the United States, and ultimately, good for the world.

Cyprus

We discussed Cyprus, where the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement are the best that they’ve been for some time. It doesn’t mean that success is guaranteed, but the possibility of resolving a decades-long conflict is there and we urge the parties to continue their work. The interests of all Cypriots would be advanced with a bizonal bicommunal federation.

We’re hopeful that a solution that’s durable, which would create new economic opportunities for all the people across Cyprus, is within reach. And it would be a powerful example to the world of what’s possible with diplomacy and compromise.

This is ultimately a negotiation between Cypriots – Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. And the good news is that you have two leaders who seem genuinely committed to finding compromises and an approach that would serve both their peoples well. If, in fact, you can see a meeting of the minds between them, then the issue will be can we make sure that all of us – the international community, Turkey, Greece, the United States – support that agreement in a way that can be ratified by both sides.

And we’ve invested a lot of time, Vice President Biden’s been actively involved in this. We are encouraged by the progress that’s been made. I think there’s a window in the next few weeks, months, where this issue [will actually be] resolved and I think if we can find an equitable solution, it won’t provide 100 percent of what either side wants. There may be some mechanisms for a transition from status quo to the future that both sides envision, but I think it’s achievable and we’re going to do everything we can to support the process.

(Reply to a question in press conference with PM Tsipras)

NATO

Beyond economic issues, we discussed the pressing security challenges that we face as NATO allies. I want to take this opportunity to commend Greece for being one of the five NATO allies that spends 2 percent of GDP on defense, a goal that we have consistently set but not everybody has met. Greece has done this even during difficult economic times. If Greece can meet this NATO commitment, all our allies should be able to do so.

(Remarks with PM Tsipras)

source: ekathimerini.com, 15/11/2016

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The “hot potato” of Hellas Gold has been passed on

Last Thursday, just a few days before the government reshuffle, the Minister of Environment Panos Skourletis, , decided to block again the investment of “Hellas Gold” in Chalkidikiin what was considered by many his “swan song”.

Thus he appeared to be consistent with his ideological commitments to the “movement” against the investment and the world of SYRIZA, which had identified with it. And although according to the “Hellenic Mining Watch,” which leads the struggle against gold mining, the issue is not political but “a matter of public health and public interest”, within the classes of its members there is a prevailing concern in regards to the motion of Mr. Skourletis which could be construed as a distractionin view of the reshuffle or the elections.

The decision of Panos Skourletis,however, does not necessarily represent the overall attitude of the government on the matter. Besides SYRIZA, which in the past held a rigid stance as an opposition party, has been dancing the “tango” ever since the takeover, taking one step forward and two backwards, trying to balance between the expectations of its voters (especially during election periods and politically charged times), the occasional decisions of the CoE (the company has filed a total of 16 times and has been vindicated in all cases) and the need of the government to appear to its international audience as friendly to foreign investments . In any case, apparently the “hot potato” has been passed on to the hands of the successor of Mr. Skourletis.

Low-key attitude

The company and its employees are keeping a low-key attitude, until there is a clear idea regarding the essence of the case and, most importantly, the intentions of the government. The CEO of “Hellas Gold” Michalis Theodorakopoulos said he hasn’t had the time to read the decision that came out on Thursday in order to evaluate it. “We will examine the decision in depth, as well as the possibility of submitting a complaint”, he commented in his interview with the “MTK”, not confirming the alleged annoyance and frustration of the company. On the contrary, he believes that all of the technical problems can be solved.

On the other hand, the employees are on hold. This is obvious in their statementthat they issued last Thursday, where they did not mention anything on the subject, but they only disapproved of the fact that the minister visited Kozani on that day, and not the mines in Chalkidiki, to see “the Greek engineers who planned and carried out this task with honor, the miners and workers of this project, and all the Greek scientists who support the country’s development with their work”.

“We are waiting to see what this decision means”, was the comment of the representative of the Kassandra Mines Union Christos Zafeiroudas. He believes that it does not signify a new round of rivalry with the government and that the issue can be solved with an extensive technical dialogue, which should take place in the scientific community.

Revocations are expected

The “Hellenic Mining Watch” is certain of the appeal of “Hellas Gold” before the Council of State against the decision as well as the temporary suspension request pending the decision of the Council of State regarding the appeal, but it is also believed that the decision of Skourletis is “legal conclusive”because it involves a clear technical judgment of the management, the control of which is not within the jurisdiction of the court.  There is also the belief that the decision is “the final rejection of the flash smelting method by the competent service of the Ministry”, establishing the violation of “the contract and the ratification law” and forcing thecompetent ministry to go through with the revocation of all permits and approvals issued for the entire project (Skouries, Olympiada, Mavres Petres), which are “de facto infringed.”

Both rely on the Council of State

Interestingly enough, both “Hellas Gold” as well as the Minister of Environment with his rejectionrely on the Case 3191/2015 of the CoE. The decision of the Council of State finds the reasoning of the Ministry of Environment against flash smeliting mining vague and inadequate (and in particular the fact that the tests were conducted in Finland and off site), and redirected the case to the administration for new arbitrament, taking into account the comments of the company. In this context, last July the Ministry returnedto the companythe appendix of a technical study related to mining. This was followed by a fruitless dialogue with the Ministry, and then the company filed for appeal on September 9, demanding the withdrawal of the previous decision of the Minister (July 2016) referring to the decision of the Council of State (3191/15), which the Minister rejected with a decision he signed on Tuesday, November 2.

In the reasoning of the rejection, which was published in “Diavgeia” on Thursday, it is made clear that the decision ofJuly “in no way questioned the general applicability of the mining method” but to which extent the submitted Appendix dealt with environmental problems. According to the law EldoradoGold has two months from the rejection of Skourletis to appeal to the State Council against the decision.

 

[SOURCE: MAKEDONIA TIS KYRIAKIS, Sophia Christoforidou, 06/11/2016]

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Athanasios Kefalas: “Mining companies were one of the few companies that did not cut down on wages”

The chairman of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association (SME) Athanasios Kefalas talked about the problems faced by the mining industry, as well as its great contribution to the Greek economy in his interview at Capital.gr. He stressed the fact that this sector, which employs more than 16,000 employees, is one of the few in Greece that did not proceed with wage reductions, but instead kept on seeking new “talents”.

It should be noted that the Greek Mining Enterprises Association (SME) represents the largest Greek mining companies, accounting for 90% of related activity. Some of its members are Delphi-Distomon, ELMIN, European Bauxites, Grecian Magnesite, Larco, AoG, Imerys, Pavlidis in the marble industry, large cement groups such as Titan and Lafarge and the mining section of the PPC.

Interview to Dimitris Delevegos

– Those who do not follow the activity of Greek mining companies, may consider that this sector has suffered a blow.

Mining plays an important part in the economy. According to the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research (IOBE), it represents 3.4% of the GDP with its contribution amounting to 6.2 billion Euros, of which two billion concernsthe Prefecture of Attica. Its contribution, which is 1 billionEuros, is of great significance for the exports of Greece, the size of which, if we do not include oil, amounts to approximately 15 billion Euros. The industry continues to invest and attract major investors in Greece, such as the French groups Imerys, Keneosand Lafarge, receiving a vote of confidence by foreign investors in an unfavorable situation.

– Does the industry have an investment program?

According to a study conducted by SEV, there is a100 billion Euros investment gap. This figure derives from the difference between the value of the investments and the depreciation which amounts to approximately15 billion Euros and concerns the last seven years of the crisis. Aiming to contribute in covering this gap, we have planned, within the next five years, investments totaling 1.7 billion Euros for the development of new mines, the modernization of production lines, the use of by-products of processes, the maintenance of existing facilities and, of course, the restoration of the natural landscape.

– However, despite its great contribution to the economy, most representatives of the political world do not appear to be strong supporters of the mining industry.

In our country, there is a defamation of the business sector, discouraging public support events especially in regards to private investments. On the other hand, government officials have graced the openings of our own projects with their presence. There is no doubt that there is a reluctance to support specific investments which stems from the fact that, despite its importance, the mining industry is not attractive and is connected with the doctrine “notinmybackyard”. In this context, the main mission of the SME is to demonstrate the great contribution of an industry that creates job opportunities in the Prefecture, has been technologically modernized, with vertically integrated contemporary groups prioritizing issues concerning the restoration of the natural landscape and environmental protection.

– To which extent has the imposition of capital controls been a constraint?

The implementation of investments in our industry is not suffering due tothe capital controls, but due to the endless bureaucracy. The implementation of any investment takes up a minimum of five yearsand even when it is completed it still faces the insecurity of the legal system. The mining industry has a very long history, thus it has learned to wait, persist and endure. However, markets cannot wait and if the product does not come on time, someone else will be on it.

– How much time is required for an investment?

The approval of an environmental impact study requires, on average, approximately two to three years, and in some cases it can take up to six years. Take into account that this is despite the fact that it is mandated by law to complete the writing of an environmental impact study within 90 days and that in neighboring countries the process of obtaining a mining permit takes upa maximum of three to six months. As a result, we havea competitive disadvantage. It should also be noted that despite the widespread view that private initiative is against the best interest of the State, we have observed that public services have been stripped of executives with skills and experience. We are therefore in favor of an effective public administration, to ensure the integrated nature of the control of our activities.

– What is the mining industry suffering from?

Greece was the fourth country to establish a National Policy for the Exploitation of Mineral Resourcesin 2012, following the direction of the EU for the independence of the country in regards to imported resources. However, this national policy has not been implemented yet. In addition to this, there are also problems associated with land planning, licensing duration, legal insecurity, the unstable tax regime and the absence of incentives for investments. There are also issues in relation to the certification of mobile equipment operators for which a minimum of three years is required or it may never be completed when it comes to heavy vehicles, while in Bulgaria this process does not take up more than three months.

– Can mining be environmentally sound?

Historically, the evolution of human culture has been associated with cultivation and mining. It is no coincidence that the discrete changes of mankind are connected to extraction, which is an integral part of human activity. However, the impact on the landscape due to the progress of technology and landscape restoration methods is temporary.

Besides, studies of the University of Athens have showed that where restoration is done correctly, societies have developed rapidly. For us the challenge is not to restore the physical characteristics, but to gear towards exploitation after the mining activity. There is an impression that when a mining company completes its work, it leaves a hole in the society and the earth, which is not the case, given the state of the technological landscape restoration methods.

For example, in Milos we created a vineyard in the place of a mine. A museum with 10,000 visits a year has replaced an old bauxite mininggallery and in Milosa conference center has replaced a kaolin processing plant site. Therefore, the protection of the environment and mining activity can coexist, when the latter is inextricably linked to the adoption of measures to minimize its impact on the natural landscape.

– Are mining companies hiring?

We are one of the few sectors of the Greek economy that has not lowered wages or gone through with horizontal salary cuts. Simultaneously, the extrovert nature of our operations allows us to avoid wage reductions. Therefore, we are hiring and seekingpeople with new skills and wish to give opportunities to young workers. In this context, we implemented the program “Engineers in Action” by Aluminium, as well as a corresponding initiative byImerys. And we maintain, train and give opportunities. The Greek mining industry directly employsjust over 16,000 people, while the downstream employment amounts to approximately 180,000 jobs.

– Is there high demand for work in mining companies by young people?

We have gradually recorded a shift of interest for work in mining industry companies by young people. And in a situation where at least 50% of young people are plagued by unemployment, we are the only source of light in the darkness of unemployment, with the mining sector enabling young scientists to build an international career, by gaining valuable experience in Greece. The automation of our plants, the modern equipment, the training of our personnel in modern management models and our openness are characteristics that attract young prospective employees.

[SOURCE: http://www.capital.gr/, 27/10/2016]

 

 

 

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The excellence of Responsible Greek Business. Two additional awards for Hellas Gold

Our country’s businesses received awards for their high level of responsibility for the second consecutive year, at the Responsible Business Awards 2016, which took place on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at the Grande Bretagne hotel. This institution responds to the need of Greek businesses to illustrate the investments made in the field of responsibility and sustainable social development.

The awards of the institution ResponsibleBusiness Awards 2016 were given yesterday evening in a splendid ceremony with an exceptionally large participation from the business world. The institution, created to meet the need for the recognition of projects, ideas and collaborations behind the commitment of our country’s Responsible Businesses and Institutions to the principles of sustainability, corporate responsibility and sustainable and social development. This year’s event was attended by representative companies of many different productive sectors of the Greek economy. The nominations were assessed by an independent jury comprising of 22 members, chaired by Mr. Panagiotis Pikramenos, former Prime Minister, Honorary President of the Council of State and President of Alternative Dispute Resolution Promotion Agency (OPEMED). The event was hosted by the famous journalist Iordanis Hasapopoulos.

The importance of rewarding such efforts: In his talk in the beginning of the Ceremony, Mr. Panagiotis Pikramenos said among other things: “It is extremely positive and promising that there are examples of responsible businesses that care about the environment in which they operate. The role of companies, especially at this time, can be of crucial importance for the management of serious social problems and the support of innovative solutions in many areas. It is important to reward this form of entrepreneurship in order to have additional incentive to continue investing in any way possible for the society’s benefit. The statements of those who received and awarded the distinctions remained in the same wavelength, stressing the importance of Corporate Responsibility and the recognition of the efforts of Greek businesses to respond effectively, creatively and intertemporally to the significant needs of Greek society.”

At the topof the CSR awards: In the competition section, the awards covered a multidimensional spectrum and touched on all the aspects of Corporate Responsibility. Through the awards, the attendees had the opportunity to be exposed to the impressive range of actions undertaken by businesses today in Greece, to the inspiration that fuels them, and also recognize the sincere and deep commitment of businesses to help society. The NGO of the Year Awards was a special moment, since the corresponding organizations are the most valuable business partners in the implementation of their actions. In addition to this, in the Section CSR Group of the Year, the importance of valuable cooperation among all people and groups within a business in order to realize the vision for CSRwas highlighted.

Two awards for Hellas Gold: Although it was the company’s first appearance in the institution, Hellas Gold received two awards: The Silver Award in the category “Management of Natural Resources” with the nomination “Management of resources with the aim of zero environmental impact” and the Bronze Award in the category “Education / Scholarships” with the nomination “Hellas Gold by the side of young workers.”

 

[SOURCE: DAILY FAX, by Katerina Polymeridou, 19/10/2016]

The CEO of Hellas Gold Mr. Michael Theodorakopoulos receiving one of the awards

 

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The investment in Kassandra shall exceed the 1 billion dollars

The amount invested until now in the Mines of Kassandra, in Northern Chalkidiki, by “Hellas Gold” is 700 million dollars, while it is estimated that the total invested amount shall exceed the 1 billion dollars. This was remarked, at the podium of the 1st Thessaloniki Summit, by the vice-chairman and CEO of the company, Mihalis Theodorakopoulos who reminded that, when the production begins, 30%-35% of the overall revenues shall be directed to the Greek economy each year. “In the next 20 years, approximately 1.6 billion Euros shall be paid in direct taxes and 1.5 billion Euros in employee salaries in the wider area of Aristotle, 1 billion Euros in contributions to social security funds and 2.5 billion Euros for local services, contractors and shops. Only in the current year, 30 million Euros have been spent for payments to local suppliers and, for what matters, at a phase where the investment is not at its peak. In parallel, 150 million Euros shall be invested in the next 20 years in projects of environmental improvement”, he added.

He also mentioned that the licensing process of the investment has already begun in 2004, but almost a decade was need for its completion. “Licensing in Greece is not an easy matter and this has not only to do with the current government”, he said characteristically.

As he also said, the green light for the investment was eventually granted in 2012 “and then began the beautiful adventure of the investment” with many legal actions against it, which resulted to the fact that “Hellas Gold” itself applied to the State Council, where 16 decisions were issued in favor of the company.

 

[SOURCE: O LOGOS, OCTOBER 15, 2016]

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“Thessaloniki Summit 2016”: Hellas Gold was present with the Vice-Chairman and CEO Mihalis Theodorakopoulos as speaker

Minister Giorgos Stathakis says that he is optimistic about the course of the economy

In his speech at the 1st Thessaloniki Summit, that has been organized by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SBBE), in cooperation with the company “Symeon Tsomokos S.A.”, the Vice-Chairman and CEO of Hellas Gold, Mihalis Theodorakopoulos has mentioned the mining investment in Northeastern Chalkidiki and the benefits that will occur from its continuation. He said characteristically:

“The exploitation of the mineral resources of Northern Greece can act as a trigger for the reversal of the downward course of the economy. If only fifteen Eldorado companies invested in our country!”.

On the other hand, as we can read at http://news247.gr/, the Minister of Economy, Georgios Stathakis, mentioning the course of the economic indicators during the last three quarters, seemed optimistic and confirmed once again the forecast that the Greek economy will develop at a 2.5% – 3% rate in 2017, while expressing his belief that soon the inclusion in the quantitative easing program will be completed. Mr. Stathakis pointed out that:

“The second quarter of 2016 is the first quarter during which there was a positive sign compared to the immediately preceding one. There is the certainty that the same course will continue in the third quarter, with positive signs for the fourth quarter also. The image of three consecutive quarters with positive signs can be considered as a trend that gives now better prospects for the economy”.

Regarding the “red” loans, Mr. Stathakis noted that the banks have all the necessary tools to deal with this problem. He added that the goals have been set and are defined until 2019 and regard their decrease by 40% until the end of this period. “The problem of “red” loans seems to be, for the first time, in a context of stable management framework with a de-escalation perspective in the next four years” he added.

About the fiscal stabilization program, he pointed out that, based on the performance of 2015-2016, it is implemented and has results. “There are no deviations, it is a sound program of fiscal adjustment. There is a strong certainty that the basic goal for fiscal stabilization and fair allocation of tax burdens seems to progress exactly as it had been roughly planned” he said characteristically.

About the stability of the financial sector, he remarked that soon the inclusion in the quantitative easing program shall take place, “which represents the full return of the Greek banking system to regularity”.

About the reforms that regard the institutional operational framework of companies, the Minister remarked that “the government is very close to achieving its goal regarding the establishment of a company within only one day” and for companies for which there is no requirement of a notarial deed at the one stop centers. “The draft legislation is ready and it will be submitted within October. For this operation the chambers shall be competent”, he concluded.

 

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MINExpo 2016: Industry leaders talk about the future of mining

LAS VEGAS – The state of the mining industry and its future was on the minds of several industry leaders during the opening session Monday at the MINExpo International 2016 in Las Vegas.

Nina Easton of Fox News moderated a panel that consisted of Newmont Mining Corp. President and CEO Gary Goldberg, Joy Global Inc. President and CEO Ted Doheny, Contura Energy Inc. CEO Kevin S. Crutchfield, Freeport-McMoRan Inc. President and COO – Americas and Africa Mining Harry “Red” Conger, and Hecla Mining Co. President and CEO Phillips S. Baker Jr.

The panel spoke on where the industry is in the country, but it also discussed what will happen in mining into the future.

Easton asked how equipment today is making mining more safe.

“In the industry, an accident in mining is a big deal,” Doheny said. “It’s newsworthy. … It’s not can we injure folks less every year and pat ourselves on the back. I came from a different industry. Mining is at world class safety levels. The problem is when there is an issue it’s real, so they won’t talk about making the mine safer. We all talk about zero harm. We celebrate zero now.”

He said technology advancements in the industry are keeping people out of harm’s way. He said people used to walk the face at a mine but now there are cameras that can see in the dark and through the dust.

Goldberg said mining companies compete in different areas, but safety and health is not one of them.

“We work together,” he said. “We share the information.”

Goldberg said suppliers have helped the mines with fatigue management by having technology that can alert the person while he or she is operating the equipment.

He also said focusing on core safety has helped to decrease the number of injuries.

“We’ve seen a significant improvement and reduction in the number of injuries,” Goldberg said. “We’re still not quite to zero harm. I think that’s always our goal in this journey, but we’ve made good inroads.”

Crutchfield said zero harm is possible, but it will take more work.

“We still have injuries,” he said. “We get hung up in statistics, but what we have to remember is that at the end of every one of those statistics is a person.”

Doheny said the “holy grail” for mining is automation, but people still need to be able to watch what the machine is doing.

Everyone on the panel said the advances in technology are changing the workforce. Miners need different skill sets in today’s world than they did 10 years ago. Crutchfield said people think of mechanics just using wrenches, but most hook the machines up to a computer and run a diagnostic on the equipment.

“I think we’ve got to move away from being thought of as an industry of the past,” Crutchfield said. “We are an industry of the future.”

The panel said miners need an education, from a technical school to university degrees.

Doheny said the industry also needs to encourage more women to become miners. He said “not enough” women are coming into the industry.

“I think we’re missing out on the intellectual capability when it’s over 50 percent now that college graduates are women,” Doheny said. “If we’re not getting that, we’re missing out.”

The panel also touched on the image of mining to those who aren’t in the industry.

“It starts with a legacy that goes back hundreds of years,” Conger said. “There is evidence today of things that were done over a hundred years ago that we wouldn’t do today, but it exists.”

He gave the example of an abandoned mine with a tailings dam that is draining into a creek.

“None of us want that,” Conger said. “… But that legacy is there.”

He said the mines need to inform the public on everything they do to protect the environment.

“We do have an impact on the environment, that’s just a cold-hard reality,” Conger said.

“I think we’ve got to move away from being thought of as an industry of the past. We are an industry of the future.” Kevin S. Crutchfield, Contura Energy Inc.

source: http://elkodaily.com/, MARIANNE KOBAK McKOWN

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Eurostat: Greece Is Still the Unemployment ‘Champ’ of the European Union

Eurostat, the EU statistics authority, reports that the euro area (EA19) seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 10.1 percent in August 2016, stable compared to July 2016 and down from 10.7 percent in August 2015. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since July 2011. The EU28 unemployment rate was 8.6 percent in August 2016, stable compared to July 2016 and down from 9.3 percent in August 2015. This remains the lowest rate recorded in the EU28 since March 2009.

Greece remains the “champ” of joblessness with the highest unemployment rates in the EU. In June 2016, the Greek unemployment rate was at 23.4 percent, ahead of Spain (19.5 percent). In Cyprus, the unemployment rate fell from 14.7 percent to 12.1 percent. The member states with the lowest unemployment rates in August 2016 were recorded in the Czech Republic (3.9 percent) and Germany (4.2 percent).

source: greekreporter.com/2016/09/30, By Mary Harris

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Mining Industry and Enviroment

The mining industry covers vital economic and social needs, but, by its nature, it also causes changes to the environment of the areas where the deposits of mineral raw materials are located.

However, their impact is actually mostly visual, due to the creation of new roads, the existence of excavations, etc., as well as to the transformation of the landscape mostly due to the deposition of gangue minerals.

The changes in the natural landscape and the ecosystems and the way they are understood by the general public is a great challenge in order to ensure the acceptance of the mining industry by the local communities.

For the wider mining activity, and more particularly for the members of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association (SME), the rational environmental management, apart from an important regulating responsibility, consists a field of innovation and responsible operation.

Regarding the restoration of the landscape, the goal is to create such conditions, after the completion of  the mining, that they will allow the approximate reinstallation of the pre-existing plant and animal life in the near or distant future or/and the creation of the appropriate conditions that will allow for new desirable uses in the area. The regulating framework that is applied in Greece stems from the specification and adaptation of the guidelines at a European level and focuses on prevention, on the incorporation of the restoration of the landscape in the plan of the project, as well as on ensuring the implementation of the environmental actions that occur from the project’s licensing.

Our members, having adopted since 2006 the “Code of Principles for Sustainable Development” of the Association, have implemented projects and actions that go further than the requirements of the law. Besides, the responsible environmental management consists a critical factor regarding the viability of mining activities as well as a field of development of innovative actions and practices. Some typical examples of the actions of our members are:

  • The operation of plant nurseries, which, apart from the production and preparation of seeds and plants that are suitable for the restoration of the landscape, operate as “laboratories” for the research of the appropriate scientific methods for the development of expertise regarding the reproduction of local and rare plants.
  • The artificial aging of rocks in areas of steep excavations in collaboration with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
  • The transformation of bauxite residues into exploitable raw materials and products  for the production of cast iron and rockwool.

The members of the Society, due to the application of Law 998/1979 that has established the restoration of forest areas affected by mining activities, have fully restored 62,000,000 square meters until today. From 2007 till today, almost 3,000,000 seedlings and bushes have been planted. In the same time period, approximately 80 million Euros have been spent for the restoration of the landscape and the maintenance of the restored areas.

Apart from the above, that consist actions of a traditional type, some fields of environmental management where the members of the Society are active and innovate are the following:

  • Energy saving: minimization of energy use (through the replacement with other energy forms, for example natural drying)
  • Waste management: reduction and management of gangue, transformation into exploitable products
  • Optimal water management: water saving, water collection and use of rainwater
  • Reuse/new uses of land: transformation of a depleted underground bauxite exploitation mine gallery to a visitable, educational mining park, transformation of an old perlite mine to a vineyard, construction of a photovoltaic park and a forestry park in former lignite centers, landscaping of agricultural areas on depleted lignite mines and their concession to farmers

Our Association, that has 30 members and includes the largest companies in the mining industry of the country, publishes every year the “Sustainable Development Indices”  of its activities. The indices that regard the natural environment (energy consumption, water resources management, waste management and management of hazardous materials) as well as the ones that regard the employees and the society (employment, training of employees, health and safety performance, open events, visits, training of students, allocated resources, etc.) depict the performance of the responsible operation of our member-companies.

However, despite the actions of the companies of the sector, the degree of mistrust regarding the compliance with the environmental regulations and more generally the correct operation of the institutional bodies is quite high, as can be deduced from the vigorous reactions to mining and mineral processing investment plans by some parts of the society.

By the strengthening of the authorities that control the environmental performance and the increased transparency of the operation of the system of approval and control of the environmental conditions, it is expected that the trust of the citizens regarding the responsible operation of the mining industry is improved and its unhindered development is ensured for the benefit of our regional and national economy.

 

[SOURCE: EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON, 9/8/2016, by Athanassios Kefalas, president of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association]

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Mineral Wealth, a Pillar of Democratic Development

The triptych, (i) Scientific/Technical Documentation, (ii) Political/Corporate Governance and (iii) Social Participation/Consent is the one that defines and determines the democratic context of productive exploitation of the mineral wealth, as well as of most of the other development activities. It consists the foundation of rational and pragmatic approach for each development activity, particularly in the case that it is related with investment initiatives and actions of the mining industry and, of course, of the productive economy in general. This proposal and application of social, economic, technocratic as well as moral principles composes, founds and establishes the Democratic Development, always on the basis of a purely objective approach and conception.

The “scientific and technical documentation” always occurs in a specifically proven and fully enshrined way. It is based on numbers and sizes that refer to qualitative and quantitative parameters, which, in their turn, evaluate and calculate in a mathematically correct way the deposit and mining value.

The “political governance” along with the corporate responsibility that is demanded and required today set the terms and the context and guarantee the public interest and the regional/local benefits. The programmatic agreement along with the operational plan, refer to the signed agreement that is characterized by transparency and is, at the same time, binding and viable, regardless of any political and/or governmental changes or turbulence. This means absolute, fair and mutual respect of all the involved parties.  The same also regards the issue of acceptance of the existing mining policy. The existence of a consistent strategy regarding the exploitation of mineral wealth consists an essential requirement for investment actions that can last over time.

The “social participation and consent” is essential for a strong and complete Democratic Development. Humans have by themselves an interactive presence individually as well as collectively and are interested in the advantages and the possible effects: new jobs and progress, but also quality of life and environment. They do neither express themselves with aphorisms, nor do they refuse, but cooperate, control and contribute. They think nationally and collectively and not only locally and personally. They put forward the vision and the future and put aside political expediencies and short-lived systemic issues.

Of course, the practice which is followed in our country is rather in the opposite direction. The scientific evidence and proof are not taken into account, or are interpreted as it suits, and are very usually “demolished” in an easy and irrelevant way. The political governance chooses to take a populist stance and to change strategies and the contents of investment agreements partially, without the perspective of the next step and for obscure reasons. The local societies, instead of choosing the honest dialogue having as unique and essential basis the guarantee of the viable development that serves and offers progressive value to the citizens of the area, act unconventionally and selectively which leads to fragmentation and polarization. A typical example of this is the Northeastern Chalkidiki, where the famous Mademochoria are clearly and dynamically in favor of the productive exploitation of the mineral wealth of the area, while the official Municipal authorities are persistently and fanatically against the ongoing mining investment. This is a curious and at the same time dramatic confrontation between the “de facto” residents and employed persons in the mines and the Municipal authority and the people that support it. Thus the Municipality has the intention to close the mine of Mavres Petres and to conduct a technogeological study in order to decide whether the “explosive” underground operations are responsible for the cracks and other structural failures that can be observed in houses at Stratoniki. There is no problem regarding the study, it must take place and draw its conclusions, having as main recipients of its results the residents of the area that are directly interested. However, the fact that the closure of the mine is demanded has no rational explanation and rather is unique in its kind at an international level, as it does neither take into account nor calculate the subsequent structural and environmental consequences and effects. And this happens at a time where one does not enter an uncharted area and things are not of course at level zero, since a similar study has been conducted and completed in the past. More particularly the IGME (Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration) has conducted in the period 2008-2009, the research project “GEOPHYSICAL, TECHNOGEOLOGICAL AND HYDROGEOLOGICAL STUDY OF THE MINING AREA OF MAVRES PETRES– MADEM LAKKOS” that included technogeological mapping and geophysical prospects. In the report that has been prepared and submitted, the “conduction of geotechnical drilling with the simultaneous conduction of seismodynamic tests” was proposed. Furthermore, the “examination of the buildings by engineering specialists of ITSAK (Institute of Engineering Seismology and Earthquake Engineering) and evaluation of the recordings of the local network of seismographs and accelerographs” was proposed, so that “the causes of the failures are assessed and the structural efficiency of the buildings is evaluated”. In its 3d report, that took place immediately after this, the Committee of Observation of Environmental Conditions has adopted, at the time, the proposals of IGME and proposed “that a further geotechnical examination of Stratoniki, regarding civil engineering issues, will approach the seismological aspect and will study through measurable sizes the potential effects to the environment of the buildings, proposing measures for the safety of the structures” and that “the geotechnical study which gives emphasis to the structured environment of Stratoniki should be completed”. In parallel, it remarked that “the sudden cease of operation of the mines will bring about uncontrolled environmental effects to the area”. This is loud and clear from any point of view. The actual discussion about the matter, that takes place almost 7 years after this study, is legitimate, but consists the sequence of existing data which must be used in order for the next interventions to be designed. And as it is, of course, understood, the arguments in favor of the closure of the mine have no scientific basis at all, are not rational and obviously serve other purposes.

On the other hand, a relevant and fully realistic comparison is that, by the same reasoning, one should stop the construction, operation and, why not, shut down the 160 subway systems that exist today in 148 large cities in 55 countries in the world at an average depth of 10-12 meters.  Thus the social and economic network would have been blocked and would have collapsed along with other development structures and actions.

In full contrast to this, Sweden could be regarded as a typical example of fair practice regarding the promotion and implementation of a Democratic Development. A country where the scientific evidence is not put in doubt but is rather promoted and exploited. The investment agreements take place regardless of the government that signed them or the politics that were followed at the time. An example of a high level corporate responsibility that has nothing to do with any political reality. A society and citizens that participate, discuss, set their own terms, but do neither refuse nor undermine the democratically taken decisions. A country where the national mining policy and strategy that has been voted by the former government is not abolished by the next one. That is the continuation and consistency of the function of the state toward its citizens, the present and future of the country. Today, 14 mines are operating in Sweden, which have produced in 2015 72 million tons of ore,  as well as 40 quarries of industrial minerals and 50 quarries of aggregates and building stones. There are 90 new ongoing investment plans and projects of productive exploitation of the mineral wealth, the licenses of which cover and regard an overall area of 10,630 square kilometers. 854 deposits and 17,000 metalliferous areas have been recorded. The country produces 92% of iron, 29% of zinc, 36% of lead and 24% of gold of Europe.

It is possible that, in Greece also, if we decide to seriously support the Democratic Development, we will finally manage to implement some investment opportunities regarding the exploitation of the mineral wealth of Northern Greece, such as the ones that have occurred and were brought forward in the past, and are presented as examples on the attached map.

[SOURCE: http://greenminerals.blogspot.gr/, by Nikolaos Arvanitidis, Doctor of Geology, 9/2/2016]

 

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Social and economic impacts of gold mining

An independent report produced for the World Gold Council by development economics agency Maxwell Stamp. This study builds on the other research detailed here, with a wide range of additional industry sources, and provides a broad and detailed set of indicators demonstrating how formal gold mining contributes to socio-economic growth and development at the global, national and community level.

Related documents 1 Download (pdf, 2.16 MB)

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The social and economic impacts of gold mining - infographic

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The social and economic impacts of gold mining: video summary

source:http://www.gold.org, Published 3rd June 2015

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Royal Mint sees surge in demand for gold bars and coins

It seems the quest for gold is not currently limited to the venues of Rio de Janeiro.

The Royal Mint has said that it saw a “surge” in demand for the precious metal following the Bank of England’s cut in base rates to 0.25% on 4 August.

During that week the Mint saw a 25% increase in transactions on its bullion website.

It also experienced a 50% increase in sales of gold bars and coins, compared with the previous week.

It is thought investors are turning to gold as cash and bonds offer diminishing returns, exacerbated by lower interest rates.

So far this year, the price of gold has risen by 45% in sterling terms, and 25% in dollar terms.

Record demand

“Although the stock market has been doing well of late, it didn’t do so well at the start of the year, and there was a lot of volatility around the time of the referendum,” said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Landown.

“That helps gold.”

However he also warned that gold prices will not necessarily continue rising.

“It’s worth pointing out gold is by no means a one way bet – in 2011 it was trading at above $1800 an ounce. It’s an insurance policy for the rest of your investments and as such should make up no more than 5-10% of your portfolio.”

Gold is currently trading at $1344 an ounce.

Earlier this week, the World Gold Council reported that global investment demand for gold hit a record level in the first six months of this year.

However consumer demand in countries such as India and China, traditionally among the strongest buyers of gold, was lower.

source: bbc.com, By Brian Milligan

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Rio 2016: Gold in sport – a winning combination

In August and September, the eyes of the world will turn to Brazil for the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and with it will come a natural focus on the competition for gold.

Why gold, silver and bronze?

These metals denote the first three Ages of Man in Greek mythology: The Golden Age, when men lived among the gods; the Silver Age, where youth lasted a hundred years; and the Bronze Age, the era of heroes.

 

The Rio 2016 Olympic medals

A Rio 2016 gold medal will be worth approximately US$600. The medals made for the 2016 games have been produced by the Brazilian Mint, and are said to represent symbols of sustainability and accessibility, as well as sporting excellence.

The designs feature laurel leaves – a symbol of victory in ancient Greece – surrounding the Rio 2016 logo. The organisers have said this symbolises the relationship between the “strengths of Olympic heroes and the forces of nature.”

 

Vital statistics

Each medal is 85mm in diameter and each medal; gold, silver and bronze, weighs 500g. They are the biggest and heaviest summer Olympic medals ever made.

A total of 2,488 Olympic medals have been produced for the Rio 2016 Games – with 812 gold, 812 silver and 864 bronze.

 

Reduced environmental impact

The gold medals meet sustainability criteria from extraction to refining, as well as meeting strict environmental and labour laws.

The gold in the gold medals has been produced completely without the use of mercury. In the silver and bronze medals, 30% of the material used is recycled.

 

Paralympic Games medals

The Paralympic Games medals feature a special innovation. They have a tiny device inside which makes a noise when the medal is shaken, allowing visually impaired athletes to know if they are gold, silver or bronze (gold has the loudest noise, bronze the quietest).

 

The first gold medal

The custom of awarding gold, silver and bronze in sequence for the first three places dates back to the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States. Since then, the practice has continued and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has retroactively assigned gold, silver and bronze medals to the three top placed athletes in each event of the Games. The last Olympic Games where medals were made entirely of gold was in 1912.

 

What’s in a gold medal today?

The International Olympic Committee stipulates that each gold medal must have a minimum silver content of 92.5% and at least six grams of gold. Consistent with the London 2012 Games, copper is again being used as an ingredient.
Half of the plastic in the ribbons, which will position the medals around athletes’ necks, comes from recycled bottles.

source: http://www.gold.org, Published 27th July 2016

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Mycenaean ‘Battle Krater’ on public display for the first time (photo+video)

Depicts two waring hoplite groups over a fallen warrior

The largest bronze artefact of the Mycenaean era known as the ‘Battle krater’ will be on public display for the first time in 140 years at Athens National Archaeological Museum in the framework of the ‘Unseen Museum’ programme.
The large silver vessel was discovered in the tomb of a prince during excavations carried out by Heinrich and Sophie Schliemann in Mycenae, in 1876. The find was made in the royal tombs within Grave Circle A, where both objects and funeral rites dating back to the 16th century B.C. and previously entirely unknown to archaeologists were discovered.
The largest surviving bronze artefact was eventually reconstructed and the battle depicting two rival hoplite groups fighting over a fallen warrior was restored.
The krater will be on display at the Hall of the Altar until September 25. Culture and Sports Minister Aristidis Baltas, who was shown around the storerooms, was present during the transfer of the find o the museum. On August 7 and 28 and on September 16 and 25, museum archaeologists will be greet visitors and talk about the artefact itself, as well as the rich variety of other grave goods interred alongside it, with that same early Mycenaean-era prince.

Ï õðïõñãüò Ðïëéôéóìïý êáé Áèëçôéóìïý Áñéóôåßäçò ÌðáëôÜò (2Á) ìå ôçí äéåõèýíôñéá ôïõ Áñ÷áéïëïãéêïý Ìïõóåßïõ Ìáñßá ËáãïãéÜííç (Á), ôïí âïõëåõôÞ ÉùÜííç Ãêéüëá ((4Ä), ôïí áñ÷áéïëüãï Êþóôá Ðáó÷áëßäç (Ä) êáé ôçí óõíôçñÞôñéá Ìáñßá ÊïíôÜêç (2Ä) öùôïãñáößæïíôáé ìå ôïí Áñãõñü ÊñáôÞñá ôçò ÌÜ÷çò óôï Áñ÷áéïëïãéêü Ìïõóåßï ôçò ÁèÞíáò, ÄåõôÝñá 25 Éïõëßïõ 2016. Ãéá ðñþôç öïñÜ áðü ôçí çìÝñá ôçò áíáêÜëõøÞò ôïõ –ðñéí áðü 140 ÷ñüíéá- èá åêôåèåß óôï Åèíéêü Áñ÷áéïëïãéêü Ìïõóåßï ï êñáôÞñáò ôçò ìÜ÷çò, ìáæß ìå Ýíá áðü ôá ÷ñõóÜ êýðåëëá ðïõ åß÷å óôï åóùôåñéêü ôïõ. Ï ðåñßöçìïò êáé áèÝáôïò Ýùò ôþñá áñãõñüò êñáôÞñáò èá ìåôáöåñèåß áðü ôï ÅñãáóôÞñéï ÓõíôÞñçóçò ÌåôÜëëùí ôïõ Åèíéêïý Áñ÷áéïëïãéêïý Ìïõóåßïõ óôçí áßèïõóá ôïõ Âùìïý, ãéá íá åêôåèåß óå êáôÜëëçëç ðñïèÞêç, íá öùôéóôåß êáé íá óõíïäåõôåß áðü ôï êáôÜëëçëï åðïðôéêü õëéêü ãéá ôïõò åðéóêÝðôåò, ðïõ èá ìðïñïýí íá ôï èáõìÜóïõí óôç èÝóç áõôÞ ùò ôçí ÊõñéáêÞ 25 Óåðôåìâñßïõ. ÁÐÅ-ÌÐÅ/ÁÐÅ-ÌÐÅ/ÁËÅÎÁÍÄÑÏÓ ÂËÁ×ÏÓ

source: en.protothema.gr

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How Much Is A Gold Medal Worth In 2016? The Rio Olympics Will Hand Out More Than 800 Of Them

With the Summer Olympic Games just around the corner, many athletes are pushing through their final days of grueling training by dreaming of victoriously biting into their gold medal after it’s hung around their neck. Yet dreams of Olympic gold have little to do with a desire for the precious metal, as you won’t find a single “gold” medal at the 2016 Rio Games. If Olympic gold medals aren’t really gold, how much is a gold medal really worth?

It’s been more than a century since solid gold medals were awarded to an Olympic athlete. In fact, they have a relatively short history with the Olympic Games. Solid gold medals first replaced trophies at the 1904 Games in St. Louis but eight years later, the 1912 Stockholm Games became the last time victors’ necks were adorned with medals made entirely of gold, due to their high cost of production. Since then, the International Olympic Committee has stipulated that medals awarded to first-place champions contain at least 6 grams of pure gold and use at least 92.5 percent pure silver.

This year’s Olympic gold medals, which were produced by Brazil’s national mint, weigh just over a pound and contain 494 grams silver, gilded with 6 grams of gold, according to Rio officials. Given gold’s current price, that 6 grams of gold plating is worth roughly $268. Between the gold and silver content, an Olympic gold medal awarded at the Rio Games is worth only about $600.

In 2012, gold prices were at a record high, making the “podium value” of gold medals awarded at the London Games roughly $708, according to Forbes. They were believed to be the most valuable Olympic gold medal in the history of the modern games. At today’s current market price, a 500-gram solid gold medal would require more than $23,000-worth of the precious metal.

Nearly 2,500 medals have been produced in preparation for Rio’s Summer Olympics, along with more than 2,600 Paralympic medals — all using a strict criteria of sustainability. The 812 Olympic gold medals produced by the Brazilian National Mint are made from gold extracted without the use of mercury for a more environmentally friendly medal, according to officials. Inspired by Olympic history, the medals’ design features laurel leaves on one side, and Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, standing before Acropolis on the other.

While Olympic champions may not take solid gold medals home with them from Rio, winning remains the ultimate goal. Athletes begin each event determined to go for gold, even if it is just 1 percent.

Source: bustle.com, MORGAN BRINLEE

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A new economic, environmentally friendly activity at the site of a restored perlite mine in Milos island, Greece

In 2014, S&B Industrial Minerals S.A.currently member of IMERYS Group, decided to start a new economic activity at the site of a restored perlite mine in Milos island. A feasibility study and a business plan were initially carried out to assess the initiative’s sustainability. Then, in February 2014 the planting of 17,500 vines of a Cyclades variety (Assyrtiko) in the first 5 hectares of S&B’s vineyard was concluded at a rehabilitated part of an active perlite mine in Trachilas. The Thrachilas mine is still active in other parts where extraction of perlite is still taking place.

Viticulture is one of the traditional, yet today abandoned, economic activities of the island. Historical sources testify that in 1930, 2,200 acres of vineyards were cultivated on the island with a 250 tonnes per year wine production. The viticulture was abandoned almost entirely due to a phylloxera “epidemic”. S&B chose to revive this activity building on a tradition that is already ingrained in the island’s history and testimonials. S&B applies an organic cultivation method thus promoting the protection and conservation of the environment. Irrigation water (invaluable in the Cyclades, which are characterized by long summer droughts) is recycled, i.e. not derived from the island’s aquifer.

The activity also aims to encourage Milos’ residents to begin using more environmentally friendly farming methods. In this respect, free training seminars have been organized by S&B on Milos, educating locals that already cultivate or wish to revive small family vineyards, urging them to start using organic agricultural methods to produce quality local organic wine. At the same time, co-operations are being developed with vine growers and winemakers of Santorini and N. Greece.

The new activity aims also to educate visitors about industrial minerals, abundant on the island of Milos. Minerals are almost everywhere in our everyday-life, even in wine-production. Sulfur used to protect the crop from disease in organic winegrowing, bentonite used for wine stabilization and perlite used in wine clarification are prominent examples of Milos’ minerals used in viticulture and wine production.

Finally, the activity will also serve to attract visitors to the island since wine production is intertwined with culture, hospitality, quality, and tradition.

Impact on Society

During 2014, the activity’s start-up year, the following achievements are noted:

• Two new jobs have been created.
• Four free training seminars on vine cultivation methods have been offered to locals (in March, May, June, August 2014) with remarkable attendance of 60-100 participants each time.
• The new activity has been very well accepted by the local community.

During its official inauguration and blessing ceremony by the Metropolitan of Syros in June 2014 over 300 participants from the local community, local officials such as the Mayor of Milos, but mostly common people, attended expressing their enthusiasm.gallery_sg2020_1429015250_good_practice_image

Initiative Location

S&B vineyard was established in the already rehabilitated part of the Trachilas active perlite mine on Milos island.

Workers Participation

In the design, supervision and implementation of this new activity the S&B Group Sustainable Development Department and the Milos Rehabilitation Department are involved.

Working with Organization

S&B is cooperating with an oenologist consultant that provides expertise and also the free seminars to local community.

Benefits for Οrganization

Benefits for the company include:

• Add value to a long and successful tradition of mine reclamation and biodiversity management, taking it one step further in establishing an activity that will also add economic value to the local community.
• Build on S&B’s good reputation as a local corporate citizen.
• Become an additional tool for S&B’s long-standing contribution to tourism on the island, attracting visitors that are interested in wine-making and wine-tasting.

source: http://observatory.sustainablegreece2020.com

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A.Kefalas: €1 bn. of exports and 84,000 jobs in the extractive industry

The sector of extractive-metallurgical industry is a pillar of the regional economy and one of the greatest employers in the country, with international presence and 84,000 employees, as it contributes 3.4% of the country’s GDP with an annual turnover of 6.2 billion euros. 80% of the production is exported, while the value of these exports is over 1 billion euros per year. The great contribution of the mining companies to the Greek Periphery, has been described yesterday in a meeting with journalists by the President of the Association of Mining Companies Mr. Athanassios Kefalas. As he mentioned, the activities of the extractive sector have a significant positive impact on the economy of Attica too, by contributing approximately 2.1 billion euros. The reason for this is that the headquarters and offices of most of the companies of the sector are located in Attica.

The President of the Association of Mining Companies made a particular reference in his speech to the inhibiting factors that hinder the growth of the extractive sector and constitute a barrier. Among others were mentioned “the cumbersome licensing process, both for existing activities and for new investments, bureaucracy, the outdated quarrying law, the social reactions due to the great fear of environmental degradation in combination with the non existence of effective controls, the lack of stable tax and labor legislative framework, and above all the insecurity regarding justice”.

Mr. Kefalas, being invited to comment on the negative attitude of the Greek state in the case of Hellas Gold, argued that there is a bad past, with the licenses creating rivalry and social upheaval. “It is no accident that, when the licensing of a facility begins, the first thing they ask us is what is the opinion of the mayor and of the local community ” he mentioned, and pointed out that gold is not rings and bracelets, but it consists an industrial product that is used by manufactures of mobile (cell) phones, medical instruments (tomography scanners) etc. Mr. Kefalas tried to disprove the view that industries are destroying natural wealth and are harmful to the environment, by pointing out that on the island of Milos, where the facilities of the former S&B are located, where he was a senior employee and where he remains after the strategic merging with the French company Imerys, 63,000 square meters of land will be turned into vineyards, on the initiative of the company. Regarding the effect of the crisis in the sector, he declared that there is no impact on the turnover.

However it is observed that there is an impact on the competitiveness of the Greek companies, due, for example, to overtaxation.

Citing a study of the Foundation for Economic and Industrial Research, he pointed out that next to Attica, the contribution of the sector is quite significant in Central Macedonia too, and amounts to approximately 1 billion euros. Furthermore, 12% of the added value that is created in the Region of Sterea Ellada (740 million euros) is attributed to the extractive sector. This is the case respectively, for approximately 4% of the added value that is created in the Regions of Eastern Macedonia–Thrace (300 million euros), Western Macedonia (130 million euros) and Thessaly (270 million euros), as well as for approximately 3% of the added value that is created in the Region of South Aegean (160 million euros). The contribution of the extractive industry to the added value that is produced in Central Macedonia is also quite important (approximately 500 million euros or approximately 2.2% of the added value of the Region).

Mr. Kefalas referred to the regional effects of the extractive industry on employment which are today particularly important, arguing that in the last years it has been observed that it also contributes to the internal migration, as more and more young people are moving to islands and areas where respective activities take place.

http://www.newmoney.gr/, By Marianna Tzanne, 07/06/2016

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3 reasons to care about the Conflict-Free Gold Standard

You may have heard of “conflict minerals.” These are raw materials – namely tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold – extracted from conflict zones and sold to finance conflict.

Eldorado does not operate in conflict zones but we adopted the Conflict-Free Gold Standard in 2013 to provide assurance that the gold we produce does not cause, support, or benefit armed conflict, or contribute to human rights abuses or breaches of international humanitarian law. This month we published our third annual Conflict-Free Gold Report.

 

Here are three reasons why the Conflict-Free Gold Standard is important.

1. Conflict gold is still a problem today.

Unfortunately, the links between precious minerals, mining and unlawful armed conflict still exist. In the Congo over 5 million people have been killed, and over 2 million displaced from fighting funded by conflict minerals. In 2008 alone, armed groups generated an estimated $138 to $226 million from the minerals trade in the Congo.

2. Conflict-free mineral guidelines and regulation are reducing armed conflict.

Government and industry has responded to conflict minerals with new regulations and standards including the SEC’s Dodd-Frank Act Section 1502, the LBMA’s Responsible Gold Guidance, and the WGC’s Conflict-Free Gold Standard. These frameworks span the mining supply chain and have introduced strict standards and expectations for how companies source, mine, transport and supply conflict minerals. They also ensure strict due diligence along the supply chain to detect and prevent contribution to armed groups. Today we are seeing weaker armed groups and fewer mines under their control.

3. Mining companies should be held accountable.

Conflict-mineral guidelines and regulations will not be effective if mining companies are not held accountable for their operations and supply chain. Without accountability, companies would be free to source minerals from any supplier or region without public awareness or scrutiny. While the industry has made a good start, there is still work to do and Eldorado is committed to supporting such actions.

Read the article we’ve drawn data from for this blog post: Financial Post “Suffocating Congo’s War” 2015-02-07

Learn more about our commitment to conflict-free gold in our report:

by Eldorado Gold on June 29, 2016 in Eldorado Gold, Reporting
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UBS: ‘Gold has entered a new phase’

The price of gold will continue to shoot up in 2016, and has now “entered a new phase” of growth in the post-Brexit world, thanks to a variety of macroeconomic factors.

The gold price has increased 24% this year so far.

And the risks to the global economy will make it the go-to investment for the rest of 2016, according to UBS strategist Joni Teves in a note circulated to clients on Tuesday.

As a result, Teves and her team have increased their annual forecast for gold to an average of $1280 per ounce, compared to $1225 previously. Teves notes that she expects an average gold price for the rest of 2016 of roughly $1340, and in the short-term, gold will likely hit $1400 per ounce.

Teves notes that she expects an average gold price for the rest of 2016 of roughly $1340, and in the short-term, gold will likely hit $1400 per ounce.

Here’s the key reasoning behind that forecast, from UBS’ Global Precious Metals Comment note (emphasis ours):

Key drivers include: 1) low/negative real rates, 2) the view that the dollar has peaked against DM currencies, and 3) lingering macro risks. We expect the next leg to be driven by an extension of the trend of strategic portfolio allocation into gold from a diverse set of investors. This trend should now deepen, attracting more participants and encouraging those who have been hesitating to get more involved. Relatively orderly retracements, which have typically been shallow and brief indicates strong buying interest. This suggests that gold’s floor is likely higher now given an even stronger fundamental argument for holding gold.

Teves continues (emphasis ours):

The UK’s vote to leave the EU further underpins gold’s macro narrative, reinforcing the themes of further dovish shifts in monetary policies, consequently lower yields, and heightened uncertainty. We continue to expect US real rates to fall from here and ultimately for equilibrium real rates to settle lower and have limited upside. These factors justify strategic gold allocations across different types of investors and we expect this trend to continue.

UBS said that the UK’s vote to leave the EU has reinforced the risks facing the global economy, boosted uncertainty, and helped to crystallise worries about the effectiveness of unconventional monetary policies like negative interest rates. All of this combines to create an environment where gold is a hugely attractive investment.

That belief is corroborated by the explosion in the price of the precious metal since June 23rd, when Britain voted out of the EU. Prices have increased by around $100 per ounce since the vote, equivalent to around 8.5%. Here’s the chart:

gold post referendumInvesting.com

UBS’ report includes some brilliant charts, including this one to show just how strong gold’s rally has been so far in 2016 (note that it is the second-best performing major asset class):

gold ytd ubsUBS

UBS’ call on the price of gold is just the latest in a series of bumps to forecasts on the precious metal following Britain’s vote to leave the EU.

It is, however by no means the most bullish prediction about the future of gold to be released in the past few days. On Tuesday, Christopher Wood, an analyst at CLSA argued that the inability of central banks to exit unconventional monetary policies safely will cause gold to eventually more than triple in price. “A long-term bullish view is maintained on gold bullion, with the ultimate price target now set at $4,200 an ounce,” Wood wrote in a note to clients.

source: uk.businessinsider, by Will Martin

 

 

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2016 already best year ever for world’s largest gold ETF

After suffering through three years of a declining gold price and investors liquidating positions built up during the metal’s bull run, this year the fund’s assets under management have swelled by $18.5 billion year to date.

GLD dwarfs other physically-backed exchange traded gold products holding 48.8% of the global total as of today at 950 tonnes or 30.5m ounces worth $40.3 billion. GLD’s holdings have shot up by 308 tonnes this year to the highest since July 2013.

The rise in assets under management in 2016 is a better performance than the banner years of 2009 and 2010 when investors caught in the global financial crisis and spooked by quantitative easing piled into GLD.

Stripping out the appreciation in the gold price, 2016 inflows into GLD is over $10 billion also surpassing 2009’s tally. Investors actually pulled money out of GLD in 2011 although assets under management grew as a result of the peaking gold price.

2016 already best year ever for world's largest gold ETF

 

Number one for a day (or two)

Gold ETFs were credited for a big portion of gold’s uninterrupted 12-year bull run, because ETFs make it so easy to invest in the yellow metal. (And to cash out as gold’s 2013 annus horribilis so clearly showed.)

While launched a full 18 months after the first physically backed gold ETF was created in Australia, GLD quickly dominated the market.

On August 22, 2011 when gold was hitting record highs above $1,900 GLD became the largest ETF in the world briefly surpassing the venerable SPDR S&P 500 trustGLD was listed on 18 November 2004 and enjoyed a pretty good first day. Investors bought just over 8 tonnes or 260,000 ounces of gold affording the fund a net asset value of $115 million.

A mere two days later it would cross the $1 billion mark and by the time Thanksgiving arrived the following week gold bugs had snapped up more than 100 tonnes. The 1,000 tonne market would be crossed in February 2009.

On August 22, 2011 when gold was hitting record highs above $1,900 an ounce GLD became the largest ETF in the world briefly surpassing the venerable SPDR S&P 500 trust (assets today $174 billion) at a net asset value of $77.5 billion.

Gold holdings in the trust would peak more than a year later in December 2012 at 1,353 tonnes or 43.5 million ounces. Global ETFs hit a record 2,632 tonnes or 93 million ounces of gold at the time.

All of that came crashing down in 2013 as the gold price plummeted and investors pulled 552 tonnes from the fund. The extent of the panic was evident by the fact that GLD had only 17 days of inflows during the entire year.

Nevertheless, those who got in on the GLD ground floor are still enjoying returns 135%. If you put your money into the S&P 500 in November 2004 you’d be worth 77% more today.

source: mining.com

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21 incredible uses for silver

Silver is generally known for its use in coins, silverware and of course jewellery. However, today these account for less than 50% of all silver consumption. In fact, silver has a whole host of unique properties that has rendered it the ideal material for a number of industrial uses.
Of all the metals, silver is the best thermal and electrical conductor, is both malleable and ductile, able to be flattened into fine sheets and drawn out into thin, flexible wires, and it is also resistant to corrosion and oxidation. For these reasons it is extremely valuable in industrial and electrical applications. On top of this, silver is anti-microbial as well as non-toxic which makes it useful in medicine and a number of consumer products. Also, with the recent discovery of nano-silver, the white metal has expanded into home appliances.
In comparison to most other precious metals, silver is more widely available and relatively cheap. In many instances this has led to silver being seen as disposable with nano-silver being used in a plethora of everyday items – who would have thought we’d consider washing our clothes with nano-particles of the metal we once wore as prized jewellery?
Whether in laundry detergent or inside jet engines, silver has become a material of innovation and is now appearing in a number of unexpected places and products. Take a look at our infographic below to find out some of the most incredible uses for silver for yourself!

21 Incredible Uses for Silver infographic

 

 

source: mining.com, from BullionVault.com

 

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Here are the world’s top 10 gold producing mines

Gold output across the globe hit an all-time high in 2015, climbing 1.8 percent to 3,211 tonnes. Much of this growth was led by Mexico, whose output increased double digits (18 percent) from 112 tonnes in 2014 to 133 tonnes last year. Indonesia grew 20 percent, Kazakhstan 29 percent.

This year, global production is expected to level out as project development budgets were slashed during the three-year gold bear market. But with gold prices rebounding, miners are in a good position to be much more profitable.

Below, explore and discover the world’s top 10 gold producing mines.

10 Boddinton

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - Boddington

The Boddington gold and copper deposit, located 75 miles southeast of Perth, Australia, is the country’s largest gold mine. The first gold was poured in 2009, and in 2011 Newmont produced its first one million ounces from the site. The mining company has identified gold reserves of 19.5 million ounces at Boddington and plans to spend half a billion dollars to expand production.

Lihr

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - Lihir

Gold was first discovered on Papua New Guinea’s Aniolam Island in 1982, and in 1997, the first gold was poured at the Lihir project, then managed by Rio Tinto. Australia-based Newcrest acquired the gold deposit in 2010 and has since struggled to keep operation costs under control. The company recently announced that expansion will cost a lot less expensive than initially thought, owing to new processing equipment that can more easily handle sulfur.

8 Penasquinto

 

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - penasquinto-mine

Wholly owned by Canadian miner Goldcorp, the Peñasquinto mine is located in the State of Zacatecas. It’s the largest open pit mine in Mexico and the fifth largest silver mine in the world. Besides gold and silver, the project, in operation since March 2010, also yields zinc and lead. In 2007, Silver Wheaton entered into an agreement with Goldcorp to buy 25 percent of all silver output for the life of the mine.

7 Carlin

 

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - carlin-mine

Whether we’re talking about glittering Las Vegas casinos or mining, gold and Nevada are nearly synonymous. The state accounts for 75 percent of total U.S. output, and it’s even estimated to be responsible for producing 3 percent of all gold ever mined in human history. Much of this comes out of the state’s Carlin Trend, the most abundant goldfield in the Western Hemisphere. Along the trend is Newmont’s historic Carlin project, which consists of three open pits and four underground mines. In May 2015, the company celebrated 50 successful years of gold production at the site, which was the first in North America to generate more than one million ounces in a single year.

6 Yanacochua

 

 

 

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - yanacocha-gold-mine

At more than 15,000 feet above sea level in Northern Peru, the Yanacocha project sits atop the Andean continental divide. It’s the largest gold mine in Latin America, covering some 535 square miles. Consisting of five open pit mines, it’s been producing gold since August 1993. Ownership of the mine is split among Newmont; Minas Buenaventura, a Peruvian company; and the International Finance Corporation, controlled by the World Bank.

5 Pueblo Viejo

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - pueblo-viejo-mine

A joint venture between Barrick Gold, the world’s largest gold producer, and Goldcorp, the Pueblo Viejo mine is situated in the rolling green hills of central Dominican Republic, more than 60 miles north of its capital, Santo Domingo. The two Canadian companies took over the project in 2012 after the Dominican government unsuccessfully tried to mine it, with full production capacity reached in 2014. In August 2015, Barrick entered into a streaming contract with Royal Gold, whereby Royal agreed to front $610 million while Barrick is obligated to deliver 7.5 percent of all gold it produces at Pueblo Viejo.

4 Cortez

 

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - cortez-mine

 

Barrick employs 4,000 people in Nevada, or about a third of the state’s entire mining industry labor force. Many of these people work at the company’s  Cortez operation, located in central Nevada. As one of Barrick’s most promising ore bodies, the site is scheduled to receive $153 million from the company through 2020. This will help expand its underground mining capacity, allowing it to produce an additional 300,000 ounces per year.

3 Goldstrike

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - goldstrike-mine

Since 1987, Barrick has operated the Goldstrike mine, also located in north-central Nevada. As the largest gold mine in North America, Goldstrike employs about 1,700 people. Over the last couple of decades, workers have developed a new way to process ore at the site, known as “total carbonaceous matter leach,” which will allow the company to repurpose lower-grade ores. The process is set to move out of its testing phase sometime this year.

2 Grasberg

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - grasberg-mine

High up in the rain-soaked mountains of Papua province, where earthquakes are not uncommon, sits the world’s largest known gold reserve and second largest copper reserve. Roughly 18,000 people work at the Grasberg mine, for which a village, called Tembagapura, was constructed, containing roads, housing, schools, a hospital and an airport. Nearly a mile wide, the project consists of both an open pit and underground operation. The company is currently in negotiations with the Indonesian government to extend its mining contract, which is scheduled to expire in 2021.

1 Muruntau

Here are the world's top 10 gold producing mines - murutu-uzbekistan-mine

Discovered in Uzbekistan’s arid Kyzyl Kum Desert in 1958, the Muruntau gold deposit began operations in 1967. Today, it’s the largest open pit mine by area and, at 1,900 feet deep, is the world’s fifth deepest. The project, which also contains huge deposits of turquoise and arsenic, sits atop what many geologists believe could be the world’s biggest gold reserve, with various estimates placing the amount at between 2,500 and a mind-boggling 5,300 tonnes.

source: mining.com, Frank Holmes – U.S. Global Investors

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Tutankhamun had a dagger made of iron from meteorite

A dagger buried alongside legendary Egyptian King Tutankhamun was made with iron extracted from a meteorite, researchers have determined — a form of metal so prized by ancient Egyptians that they called it “iron from the sky.”

Using X-ray fluorescence spectrometry, a team of Italian and Egyptian experts led by Daniela Comelli of the Polytechnic University of Milan, analyzed the blade and found that it has a similar composition to metallic meteorites, the research published this week in the journal Meteoritics & Planetary Science shows.

The high manufacturing quality of the blade in comparison with other simple-shaped meteoritic artefacts suggests a significant mastery of iron working in Tutankhamun’s time, say researchers.The dagger, which was discovered in 1925 among the folds of the wrapping around the mummified boy pharaoh, has long intrigued historians and archaeologists for both, its beauty and composition.

The piece, which has a gold and crystal handle, as well as an ornate sheath, has also has baffled scientists because iron was supposed to be a very rare metal used by ancient Egyptians.

This week’s paper confirms such a theory, as it says that the presence of iron —along with levels of nickel and cobalt — “strongly suggests an extraterrestrial origin.”

However, the high manufacturing quality of the blade in comparison with other simple-shaped meteoritic iron artefacts “suggests a significant mastery of ironworking in Tutankhamun’s time”, the researchers say.

Tutankhamun had a dagger made of iron from meteorite

They compared the composition of the dagger to known meteorites within 2,000km around the Red Sea coast of Egypt, and found that one in particular — which landed 240km (150 miles) west of Alexandria — contained similar levels of nickel and cobalt.

Probably one of the best known pharaohs of ancient Egypt, Tutankhamun was a minor figure in ancient Egyptian history. The boy king of the 18th Egyptian dynasty reigned eight to nine years and accomplished little, but the discovery of his nearly intact tomb in 1922 has led many to attempt unravel the mystery of his life and death.

His dagger can currently be seen at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

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Gold and the environment

Gold nanoparticles could be the solution to a number of pressing environmental concerns.

Catalytic converters

Since the explosion of car ownership in the United States led to concerns about air pollution, catalytic converters have been deployed to reduce the impact of motor vehicles on the environment. Gold can act as a catalyst (a material that accelerates chemical reactions without being consumed in the process) effective in reducing hazardous vehicular emissions.

Including gold alongside the platinum and palladium (metals that are more typically used) in catalytic converters can reduce the cost of the devices. With World Gold Council support, a new gold-containing catalytic convertor technology was introduced to the market in 2011. We continue to work with market-leading manufacturers to accelerate the uptake of this important technology.

Read more about how gold catalytic converter technology works.

Renewable energy

Global concerns about fossil fuels’ contribution to climate change have prompted a search for viable alternative energy sources. In addition, gold is becoming an increasingly important component in the development of alternatives to fossil fuels. Gold nanoparticles are being used to improve the efficiency of solar cells, and gold-based materials are showing promise in the search for new, more effective fuel cell catalysts.

 

Clean groundwater

Groundwater contamination is a common problem around the world in industrialised areas. One of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to manage such pollution is to use specially-designed chemical catalysts, which help to break down contaminants into their component parts. Researchers from Rice University, Stanford University and DuPont Chemicals are using this approach to tackle chlorinated compounds, pollutants which result from a range of industrial activities.

The research, led by Professor Michael Wong at Rice, has developed a gold and palladium catalyst which removes chlorinated compounds from water in laboratory conditions. With World Gold Council support a pilot plant was installed at a polluted site in Kentucky in 2014, and the catalyst was successfully trialed.

source: www.gold.org

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Gold demand just had its strongest-ever first quarter

This year’s first quarter is one for the history books. Not only did gold appreciate at its fastest pace in 30 years, but demand for the yellow metal was the strongest it’s ever been on record.

Let me repeat that: the strongest it has ever been.

Demand surged 21 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the latest World Gold Council (WGC) report. Most of this demand was driven by investment, with net inflows into gold ETFs reaching 363.7 tonnes, a seven-year high.

Meanwhile, demand for bars and coins shot up 55 percent year-over-year, from 11.8 tonnes to 18.3 tonnes. Appetite for American Eagle coins jumped 68 percent.

source:miningcom, Frank Holmes – U.S. Global Investors

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Eldorado Gold to sell remaining assets in China to Yintai Resources for $600 million

Canada’s Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD) (NYSE:EGO), until now the largest foreign gold producer in China, is selling its stakes on two mines and development project to an affiliate of China’s Yintai Resources (SHSZ:000975) for US$600 million in cash.

The transaction, expected to close in the third to fourth quarter 2016, includes Eldorado’s interest in the White Mountain and Tanjianshan mines, as well as its stake in the Eastern Dragon development project.

Deal comes less than three weeks after Eldorado agreed to sell another Chinese asset, the Jinfeng mine, to China National Gold Group.
The Vancouver–based miner, which used to have three of its six producing mines operating in the Asian country, inked a deal last month to sell its 82% stake in Jinfeng mine to a wholly-owned subsidiary of China National Gold Group for US$300 million in cash.

The deals mark the end of Eldorado’s reign in China, but the company still has several foreign operations in countries that include Turkey, Greece, Romania and Brazil.

The company said it planned to use the proceeds from the sale to Yintai — a nonferrous metals mining company that controls the Huaaobaote polymetallic mine in Inner Mongolia— to expand its business “based on long-lived, low-cost assets.”

Investors welcomed the news and boosted the stock price 3.6% to Cdn$6.56 at 11:30 a.m in Toronto. Gold for immediate delivery, up 0.1% on Monday, has surged 20% this year.

BMO Capital Markets and Cutfield Freeman & Co are financial advisors to Eldorado on the transaction.

source: mining.com, Cecilia Jamasmie

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Eldorado Gold: Skouries Technical Study approved, construction to recommence

VANCOUVER, May 9, 2016 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado” or the “Company”) confirms that Hellas Gold S.A., a Greek subsidiary of Eldorado, has received from Greece’s Ministry of Energy and Environment (The “Ministry”) the approval of the updated Technical Study for the Skouries Project in Halkidiki, Northern Greece. The approval of the Technical Study enables Hellas Gold to recommence construction activities at the Skouries Project site, which were suspended in January of this year (see news release dated January 11, 2016). Paul Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado, commented: “We are all very pleased with the receipt of this approval and greatly encouraged by the ongoing interaction between Hellas Gold and the Ministry and its technical services. This constructive engagement has contributed to other recent approvals including the Skouries Building Permit (February 2016), and the Olympias Installation Permit (March 2016). I believe there now exists a greatly improved shared understanding, appreciation and alignment between the Company and the Ministry in regards to the substantial benefits to be gained by the Greek society and economy through the collaborative responsible development of mineral resources in Greece. We look forward to working together with the Ministry to advance the Skouries and Olympias Projects for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

source: eldoradogold.com, May 09, 2016

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President Obama’s Statement on the Occasion of Orthodox Easter

On the occasion of the Orthodox Easter, President Barack Obama greeted the Orthodox Christians in the US and across the world.

In a statement, the President said:

Michelle and I extend our best wishes to members of the Orthodox Christian community here in America and around the world as they observe Holy Friday and the Feast of the Resurrection.

For Orthodox Christians, this is a time to remember the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, to rejoice in the victory of the Resurrection and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds in accordance with God’s will.

We lift up in prayer the members of the Orthodox community who have been persecuted for their faith and subjected to unspeakable acts of violence, and we seek the release of those who have been kidnapped. We remember those who have been driven from their homelands and who have seen their religious institutions desecrated or destroyed. And we stand in solidarity with Orthodox Christians and people of all faiths, and pledge to continue our work to ensure that all people are able to live in peace, justice, and freedom.

During this season of hope, we remember that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. We wish all who celebrate a blessed Easter.

source: greekreporter.com, By Evgenia Choros – Apr 30, 2016

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Eldorado Gold to sell Chinese mine for $300 million

Canada’s Eldorado Gold (TSX:ELD) (NYSE:EGO) has signed an agreement to sell its 82% stake the Jinfeng mine in China to a wholly-owned subsidiary of China National Gold Group for US$300 million in cash.

The company’s president and CEO Paul Wright said China National Gold, one of the Asian country’s main bullion producers, has been its minority partner at Jinfeng for over 14 years. Because of that, Wright added the firm was the logical buyer for the open-pit and underground mine, which he said has “consistently delivered solid results” since it began production in 2007.

Jinfeng produced 149,655 ounces of gold in 2015 and is expected to generate 95,000-105,000 ounces of gold this year, as the operation transitions fully into the underground.

The Vancouver-based miner, which also has operations in Turkey, Greece, Romania and Brazil, noted it continues evaluating the potential of monetizing its Chinese assets, adding it has been in discussions with various parties.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of the year and is subject to various approvals.

source: mining.com, Cecilia Jamasmie, 26/4/2016

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1st “Prestige Meeting” for Coorporate and Goverment Affairs

Among the speakers: M. Theodorakopoulos (Hellas Gold), K. Hatzidakis (ND Vice President), K. Massin (Burson-Marsteller Brussels)

Interest regarding the 1sth Prestige Meeting for Corporate and Public Affairs held on the 15th of April in Athens is rising both on behalf of the market and institutional representatives. For the first time the subject of the modern form of dialogue between businesses and institutions, as well as the design and implementation of influential campaigns, is put forward for discussion and exploration under the Public Affairs Forum, in the light of critical changes in the regulatory framework of business sectors’ operation. The conference was held with the participation of businesses, policy makers and international experts with a lot of experience in shaping and carrying out influential actions in decision-making centres, such as Karen Massin, which leads the largest multinational communications network in Brussels. K. Massin will convey the experience of representing corporate and sectoral interests in the Community institutions to the business audience of the conference. From a business point of view, two of the biggest case studies of Greek reality in managing relationships with local audiences and institutions are presented in the conference, that of Hellas Gold with a presentation by  CEO Michael Theodorakopoulos and that of TEMES (Costa Navarino) with the participation of the Vice President, Nikos Katsikeros. At the same time, 7 highly regulated business sectors (Mobile Telephony, Banks, Insurance Companies, Pharmaceutical Companies, IT & Communications Businesses, Winery Sector, Private TV Channels) are represented in the content of the event through the CEOs of the respective Unions. Also important is the policy makers’ perspective by the Vice President of Nea Dimokratia Kostis Hatzidakis. The content is further complemented by 15 speakers from Greece and abroad. More information on www.publicaffairs.gr

 

[SOURCE: DAILY FAX, 8/04/2016]

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Eldorado Gold: Rehabilitation of the Olympias Valley in Greece

At our Olympias site, we are overseeing one of the largest environmental rehabilitation projects in Greece. The old Olympias tailings management facility, constructed in 1976 for a previous mining project, is located about 2 kilometres from the Olympias village. The facility was closed in 1995, leaving behind 2.4 million tonnes of tailings.

We are removing the old tailings and reprocessing them, as well as restoring soil to the area so that it can support vegetation. As part of this project, we are doing tests with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to identify which native plants are best suited to the area. We are growing these native species in our nursery, one of the largest in northern Greece, and will then plant them at the site.

When the project is complete, an area equivalent to the size of about 35 soccer fields in the Olympias valley will be returned to a greenfield state.

 

 

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Minister softens stance, cites need for ‘compromise’ in standoff over Skouries mines

A bitter feud between the relevant environment minister and mining multinational El Dorado Gold, which holds the concession to the Skouries gold mining operation in northern Greece, appears to have cooled, with Minister Panos Skourletis on Thursday referring to the need for a compromise with the Canadian company.
An acrimonious round statements and counter-statements came in February when the energy and environment ministry, which Skourletis heads, slapped a suspension on Hellas Gold’s activities at the Skouries complex, citing legal and environmental violations. The concessionaire’s parent company, El Dorado, reacted angrily and threatened to close down all of its activities in Greece, including at another mining operation in Olympiada, near Skouries. Both sites are located in northern Halkidiki prefecture.
In late February, Skourletis accused El Dorado CEO Paul Wright of deliberately “shorting” shares when he announced that a suspension of operations in January. Meetings between company executives and ministry leadership proved fruitless throughout January and February.
In statements to Bloomberg, the Greek minister went as far as saying that the top mining executive “told his friends” of the multinational’s plans to suspend mining at the Skouries site so that they could sell and buy-back at a lower price.
A company spokesperson at the time replied that the statement was “utter nonsense” and defamatory and Wright has threatened legal action against Skourletis.
Nevertheless on Thursday, the minister referred to a “necessary compromise by all sides” in dealing with Skouries, which is the biggest foreign mining investment in Greece, exceeding a projected one billion euros.
Leftist SYRIZA party, when in the opposition, was bitterly opposed to the Skouries investment, although once in government top party cadres softened their stance towards foreign direct investment, especially projects and privatizations directed cited in the third bailout agreement’s terms.

 

source: naftemporiki.gr- english

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Eldorado Reports 2015 Year-End and Fourth Quarter Financial and Operational Results

In the annual review of  Eldorado Gold, ( read the full review here) there is a detailed report on the progress of the company’s investments in Greece , as follows :

 GREECE

In order to complete the construction and development of its Kassandra mining projects in Halkidiki, northern Greece, Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Eldorado, requires the approval of various routine permits and licenses from a number of government agencies, predominantly under the direction of the Ministry of Environment and Energy (the “Ministry”).

Hellas Gold received approval for its Environmental Impact Study in 2011. Since 2012, the Ministry and other agencies have not entirely fulfilled their permitting and licensing obligations primarily as a result of the lobbying efforts by anti-development interest groups. While Hellas Gold is presently unable to complete its full development plans in Halkidiki as a result of the actions and/or inactions of the Ministry and other agencies regarding the timely issuance of routine permits and licenses, the Company remains committed over the long-term to the projects and its numerous stakeholders within the country.

Olympias

The Olympias plant treated 589,675 tonnes of tailings at a grade of 1.99 grams per tonne during 2015. A total of 16,396 ounces of gold were produced during the year. The Olympias plant ceased treating tailings during the first quarter of 2016.

On March 22, 2016, the Company was granted the required installation permit to begin the next phase (“Phase II”) of Olympias.  During 2015 basic engineering for Phase II was completed, and full implementation began with detailed engineering and procurement of long lead items was well advanced by year end. Underground mine development and refurbishment continued at Olympias during 2015, with underground ore production for Phase II projected to begin before the end of 2016. During 2015, 659 meters of underground access were rehabilitated and 1,901 meters of new development were completed. In addition, approximately 330 meters were advanced on the main Stratoni-Olympias decline, bringing total decline advance project-to-date to 1,950 meters. Capital costs incurred in 2015 were $97 million, consisting of $72 million in construction capital and $25 million in capitalized cost for tailings retreatment.

Skouries

Engineering design work for the processing plant and surface facilities progressed during 2015, with engineering at over 93% complete by year end. During the year a substantial amount of the equipment and various steel structures required to complete construction of the plant and facilities were delivered to the Skouries site, with over 80% of the procurement scope completed by the end of the year. Work continued on construction of the process plant and road access was completed to the base of the tailings dam.

Work on the development of the Skouries underground mine design was advanced during 2015 from scoping level through prefeasibility level. The underground mine design is expected to be completed in 2016. The mine is projected to produce 4.5 million tonnes per year using shaft and ramp access with sub level open stoping along vertical development intervals of 60 meters. The open pit is expected to be used for disposal of mill tailings during the life of the underground operation. The open pit is projected to operate for a period of 8 years to be followed by 22 years of underground mining. During 2015 a total of $112.9 million was spent at Skouries, excluding capitalized exploration and capitalized interest.

On January 11, 2016, the Company announced that construction and development activities at the Skouries project were being suspended due to delays in the issuance of routine permits and licenses by the Greek permitting authorities. Environmental protection works and care and maintenance activities continued to be performed in order to safeguard the environment and the assets of the Company at site at a cost of approximately $1.0 million per month.

Stratoni

Stratoni produced 31% less concentrate than in 2014 mainly due to lower mine output. Mine output was impacted by fewer available underground production faces as well as an extended mine shutdown related to Kassandra mines’ permitting issues. Stratoni reported a loss from mining operations of $12.5 million (2014: gross profit $0.6 million). The loss included a write down of inventory to net realizable value of $3.3 million. In addition to the shortfall in production, the profitability of mining operations was impacted by weak lead and zinc prices. Capital expenditures for the year included upgrades to health, safety and environmental equipment, and upgrades to the water treatment plant.

In 2016, the Company expects to process 220,000 tonnes of ore at grades of 6.2% lead, 10.0% zinc and 163 grams per tonne silver.  Sustaining capital for the year is expected to be $10.0 million.

The Mavres Petres Mine currently has a mine life of approximately three years based on the known proven and probable reserves.  Geological potential exists to expand resources at Mavres Petres and extend mine life, however, in order to delineate additional resources, a mining development and drilling campaign would be required at an estimated cost of $25 million over the next three years, assuming timely issuance of any permits that may be required.

Perama Hill

Project engineering was completed during the year on Perama Hill and the project was placed on care and maintenance pending receipt of the Environmental Impact Assessment approval. In 2015, a total of $1.0 million was spent on the Perama Hill project.

source: eldoradogold.com.,  ellinikoschrysos.gr

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Greek Government Grants Eldorado Gold Permit for Olympias Mine

The Greek government has granted Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Canada’s Eldorado Gold, a license for the Olympias mine in northern Greece.

The company made the announcement on Tuesday, after Greece’s Environment and Energy Ministry gave the mining company the long-awaited permit.

“The project can now continue so that from the first quarter of 2017 the ore that will be produced at the mine will be processed at the Olympias facility,” Hellas Gold said in a statement.

Greece’s government had revoked Eldorado’s permit in August citing environmental concerns, the Council of State, the country’s top administrative court, annulled the government’s decision in January.

The Canadian company has been in acrimonious dispute with Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis, who in January suspended work at its Skouries gold mine, one of the four projects the company has in Greece.

The permit allows Eldorado to set up a processing plant in Olympias, which is crucial for the development of the mine.

The company has allocated 155 million dollars, or about two-thirds of its total development budget for 2016, to develop the Olympias project.

Currently, the company employs 2,000 workers in an area with an unemployment rate above 30 percent.

source: greekreporter.com, By Philip Chrysopoulos

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Silver has begun to outperform gold — Commerzbank

While silver has been beating gold in the past weeks, so far onlybullion appears to be benefitting from strong investor demand.

The situation may be about to change, says Commerzbank, as the gold-silver ratio — a measurement that determines how many ounces of gold it takes to buy an ounce of silver — is beginning to retreat, after hovering near a ten-year high.

“Because silver has noticeably outperformed gold of late, the gold-silver ratio has decreased from almost 84 at the end of last month to a good 78, its lowest level since early February,” Commerzbank says in a research note Friday.

Silver has begun to outperform gold — CommerzbankThat means that silver may be starting to be seen as a cheap proxy for gold, says the bank, adding that the precious metal is profiting from the US dollar’s weakness in the wake of the Fed’s meeting. Commerzbank believes silver is also being pulled up by an ongoing and considerable rise in base metal prices.

Comex May silver traded Friday as high as $16.17 an ounce in New York, its strongest level since October. The metal was down to $15.8 an ounce by 10:30 am ET, while gold was down $6 from its closing price Thursday to $1,251.60 an ounce.

source: http://www.mining.com/silver-has-begun-to-outperform-gold-commerzbank/

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The global experiment with negative interest rates is fantastic news for gold

The longer the world’s central banks continue to experiment with negative interest rates, the better the outlook for gold, according to Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC.

In the bank’s daily update on the state of the precious-metals industry, HSBC points to a recent report published by the Bank of International Settlements, often known as the central bank for central banks.

The BIS’ report said predicting what would happen if negative rates were to fall even further, and become more widespread, was particularly difficult, and that uncertainty, HSBC says, is great news for investors in gold.

Here’s James Steel, HSBC’s chief precious-metals analyst (emphasis ours):

How does this play out for gold? Positively we think. The imposition of negative rates is a sign of distress, which is gold-bullish. Furthermore, the uncertainty surrounding the long run impact of negative rates as outlined in the BIS report is also supportive of gold. The BIS report seems to say that negative rates have brought uncertainty, especially as regards their impact on financial intermediaries, but have not delivered hoped for gains for households and businesses. This is to gold’s benefit.

The price of gold has rallied massively in 2016, gaining nearly 19% in value since the start of the year. It is trading at just less than $1,275 an ounce, its highest level since early last year. Here’s how that looks:

gold 2016Investing.com

Much of gold’s rally is due to the huge volatility in financial markets earlier this year. Investors traditionally pour money into gold during times of trouble, something that was particularly true in January and February. At one point in February, investors were buying gold at levels not seen since the time of the financial crisis.

source: http://uk.businessinsider.com,  Will Martin ,Mar. 8, 2016,

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Tensions mount between Eldorado Gold and Greek government

Greek Energy Minister Panos Skourletis says Eldorado Gold Corp. chief executive Paul Wright shorted the shares of his own company, comments the miner dismissed as “utter nonsense,” as tensions mount between the Canadian company and the government in Athens.

Eldorado shares fell 19 per cent to $3.53 on Jan. 12 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the biggest one-day decline since December 2008, after Mr. Wright announced at a press conference in Athens that the company was suspending its investment plans for its Greek mines, blaming the attitude of the government.

“[Mr.] Wright is a CEO, he’s smart and he’s experienced; he gave a press conference knowing that the share price of the company would tumble,” Mr. Skourletis said when asked for an update on the country’s talks with Eldorado Gold in a wide-ranging interview on Thursday. “Why did he do that? In my opinion, and I told him when he was here, he played games with the share price. ‘You have told your friends that you are going to say these things at the press conference so that they could sell beforehand and then buy at lower prices.’”

The minister’s comments are the latest in a battle of words between the two sides that have failed to reach agreement over Eldorado’s plans to develop its mines in Greece. The country’s ruling Syriza party has said the company’s activities are polluting the environment. Mr. Skourletis last summer revoked a development permit for one of Eldorado’s mining sites. The decision was annulled by Greece’s top administrative court.

“I am absolutely certain that he shorts the company’s shares,” he said about Mr. Wright. “His compensation is tied, among other things, to the company’s share price, and he plays games with it.”

The minister provided no trading details to back his claim.

Mr. Skourletis’s allegations are “without basis and offensive,” Eduardo Moura, Eldorado vice-president and general manager for Greece, said in an e-mail, when asked to respond to the comment. The company’s spokeswoman in Vancouver, Krista Muhr, replying on behalf of the CEO, said the allegations are “utter nonsense.”

Elorado is not a heavily shorted stock, relative to other gold miners. In the week before Mr. Wright’s January comments in Athens, short positions in Eldorado rose to 1.9 per cent of the company’s free float, according to Markit data. That was slightly up from the 1.7-per-cent short interest on Dec. 31, which was a 52-week low.

By comparison, short interest in Barrick Gold Corp. was at 2.2 per cent of free float at the time, while Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. was at 5.3 per cent and Iamgold Corp. at 7.6 per cent. Newmont Mining Corp. was at 0.5 per cent. (A short sale occurs when the seller borrows stock from a brokerage, and sells it, expecting the price to fall. If it does, the seller will buy stock at the lower price to replace the stock that was borrowed.)

Mr. Wright has recently been buying Eldorado shares. He added 18,569 shares at $3.83 a piece on Feb. 8, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That brings his total to 1.17 million shares.

Eldorado closed at $4.01 a share on Tuesday on the TSX, for a market value of $2.87-billion.

Its shares have tumbled 39 per cent in the past year, the most among 19 competing miners tracked by Bloomberg, as it has gone back and forth with the government to develop its mines in Greece. Last month, the company said that a preliminary review indicates an after-tax impairment expense of $1.2-billion to $1.6-billion “primarily related to its Greek assets.”

“Eldorado’s commitment to Greece has resulted in over $700-million of investment into the country since 2012,” Mr. Moura, its vice-president, said. “The failure of the ministry on numerous fronts has forced the company to revise our investment plans; however, we remain committed to our Greek projects and the creation of jobs and long term development for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

According to Mr. Skourletis, one of the closest allies of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, the company “blackmails” the government and the environmental watchdog in Greece to approve permits for further development of the mines “with eyes closed,” or risk a suspension of the investment and laying off of hundreds of miners. “They are colonialists, not investors,” Mr. Skourletis said.

The company denies violating environmental legislation, citing rulings by Greece’s top administrative court. “The Council of State – the Supreme Court of Greece on environmental and administrative matters – has repeatedly confirmed the integrity of our permits, including five rulings since 2014 declaring null and void various decisions of the Ministry of Energy and Environment,” Mr. Moura said.

While Mr. Skourletis acknowledged the court’s decision, he said that “the Council of State has ruled on specific aspects of the case, it hasn’t ruled on whether it’s a good or bad investment.”

Eldorado submitted licensing applications to further develop its mines in Northern Greece in December, the minister said. Authorities are required by law to respond within three months, and they will do so by the end of March, the minister said. If the miner complies with its environmental and planning commitments, then the government won’t stop the project which was licensed by the previous government, as there’s “continuity in state decisions,” Mr. Skourletis said.

He added, however, that the company probably wants to halt its investment to Greece anyway.

“Eldorado may want to stop the investment in Greece, and they just want to put the blame on the Greek government,” he said.

Consequently, it was announced that Mr Paul Wright is to file a defamation suit against Mr Panos Skourletis.

In a statement released last Thursday, Hellas Gold noted that any compensation arising from the case would go to Greek charities.

source: theglobeandmail.com,   Nikos Chrysoloras and Paul Tugwell, Bloomberg News, ekathimerini.com

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Hellas Gold: Real time enviromental measurements

The website of “Hellas Gold” will be available from mid-March, allowing anyone who has Internet access to follow online data concerning the soil, water, atmosphere and the overall environmental quality in the area of Halkidiki where the company operates. Measurements are performed using special instruments and measuring stations that have been installed in the area and – according to the company – constitute the largest and most comprehensive monitoring system that has ever operated in Europe and one of the largest worldwide. It is a three million Euro investment, for the operation of which the annual expenditure stands at 1.5 million Euros.

In fact, with just click on their computer or the screen of their mobile phone locals will be able to reach  information at any time about parameters that affect their daily lives such as the weather, the clarity of the atmosphere, the amount of water running in the streams of their village. Technology is used to serve the environment and the people living in it and worrying about its quality.

The initiative is part of the Environmental Monitoring Program, which is implemented by “Hellas Gold” under the environmental conditions set by the state for the Cassandra Mines. This program records the parameters of the premises of each subproject (Olympias, Skouries, Mavres Petres – Madem Lakos, and Stratoni), as well as the quality of the environment in the vicinity of the works. In fact, “Hellas Gold” takes a step forward with the creation of the website. It provides a real-time online data feed, so that everyone can have access to the information and evaluate it.

In practice, the Program includes measurements concerning the air, water, soil, noise, vibrations, radiation and mining waste. Thus, through this great project the residents of the region will be given direct access to data regarding the quality of the environment in Northeast Halkidiki with total transparency and using scientific methods.

How does the atmospheric monitoring network work?

It is the flagship of the environmental monitoring program and it includes a network of three automatic continuous monitoring stations of the atmospheric environment in each of the seven villages of the area, which means a total of twenty-one monitoring stations in the Municipality of Aristotle. Indicatively, we must point out for comparison purposes, that the National Air Pollution Monitoring Network (EDPAR), which has been established by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, contains only twenty stations in the Prefecture of Attica and 13 additional stations across the rest of Greece.

 

The selection of the location of the dust emission monitoring stations was based on a special study conducted by the Aristotle University which is entitled “Study on the optimal location of air pollution measuring stations in the Cassandra Mines”.

Measured variables

The variables measured are the amount of particulate matter (dust) PM2.5 and PM10 found in the air, i.e. particles with an aerodynamic diameter less than 2.5 micrometres (μm) and less than 10 micrometers (μm), respectively. Particulate matter PM10 is promoted in the trachea and bronchi of our respiratory system, while the suspended particles PM2.5 affect the lungs and especially the so-called pulmonary parenchyma, i.e. the part of the lung that undertakes the gas exchange between the blood and the inhaled air. Measurements of the concentration of PM10 and PM2.5 are continuous, taking place every three minutes. The results depict the 24-hour average.

Moreover, particulate matter PM10 is also analyzed as to the concentration of trace elements Pb, Zn, Mn, Cd, As, Fe, Cu and Cr in accordance with the limits specified in the standard EN14902. The sampling for the analysis of the PM10 has a 24-hour duration and it is performed approximately twice a month.

In addition to this, gasses are also analyzed and recorded continuously, particularly carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NO, NO2, NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S).

All these measured parameters are combined at any time with the weather of each settlement as sensors have been installed in the stations for the continuous measurement and recording of a series of meteorological parameters, including rainfall, temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and evaporation.

source: http://greenagenda.gr

 

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Two years of labour peace at the Cassandra Mines

Despite the current economic circumstances, Hellas Gold ensures stability in wages and provides additional public holidays

After negotiations, the company Hellas Gold SA and two business associations [a) Association of Technicians and Employees of the companies Aktor SA- Hellas Gold “Agia Varvara” and b) Professional Association of Miners in the Underground Cassandra Mines in Halkidiki] agreed upon labour peace for the biennium 2016-2017..

The agreement which was signed on 01.02.2016 provides for the stabilization of the existing wages at the level of 31.12.2015, which is the expiration date of the first corporate collective agreement, as well as the maintenance of automatic salary increases due to maturation. There are also provisions for marriage, special circumstances and seniority benefits. In addition to this the following days were introduced as additional public holidays: January 1, January 6, Clean Monday, Holy Friday, December 4 and December 26, beside the official public holidays. Finally it was agreed that those who are entitled to full retirement due to old age can receive 100% of the authorized compensation in case of termination.

It should be noted that the minimum gross monthly wage for unskilled workers working  above ground amounts to €999, while for those working below ground it amounts to 1,215€.

It is worth adding that although the company had to suspend its work in the Skouries region due to delays in the issuance of “routine” licenses, it actively reinforces the efforts for peace within its labour force with its stance.

The CEO of the company Mr. Michalis Theodorakopoulos said: “The signing of the Corporate Agreement is a particularly important step for the company’s relationships with its employees and is the result of mutual trust and constant cooperation with the business associations in a particularly difficult economic environment where most companies are forced to perform pay cuts”. Mr. Theodorakopoulos also said that there are efforts being made for the prompt and effective resolution of any occurring issues.

 

SOURCE: Hellas Gold

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The 10 Most Expensive Minerals in the World

10 – Rhodium

Because of its rarity and industrial application, this silver-white noble metal is the world’s most expensive mineral. Rhodium became popular as a result of its highly valued catalytic application in the automotive industry. The largest supply of this mineral was found in 2009 in South Africa and Russia, and its average price is $56 per gram.

Rhodium

9 – Painite

Painite costs 60,000 dollars per carat and is known to be the “hardest to locate” and one of the rarest minerals in the world. This mineral was first discovered in Myanmar in 1950 by the British gem dealer Arthur C.D. Pain.

Painite

8 – Diamond

Diamond is commercially the most popular mineral because of its eminent role in the world of jewelry trading. The average value of this prestigious, alluring mineral is approximately $55,000 per gram.

Diamond

7 – Black Opal

Approximately 95% of all supplies of black opal are harvested in Australia, therefore this mineral is also known as the national gemstone of Australia. Black Opal has been also mined in Brazil, Ethiopia, Mexico and the United States. The average value of this mineral is $2.350 per carat.

Opal

6 – Platinum

Platinum has a major role in the world of jewelry. This dazzling silvery metal is worth $60 per gram and can often be found in South Africa, Russia, and Canada.

Platinum

5 – Gold

Many people think gold is the most valuable and most expensive mineral in the world, but this is a common misconception because there are other minerals that are far more worthy than gold. Still, it is a highly valued, expensive mineral with a price around $56 per gram.

Gold

4 – Rubies

Rubies are considered to be the most expensive gemstones in the world. They get their alluring red color from the presence of chromium. The largest supply of this mineral was harvested in Burma, which is known as the Mecca for rubies.

Rubies

3 – Jadeite

Popular by the name “mysterious mineral” Jadeite is one of the most desirable and valuable gemstones in the world. Jadeite is a rare mineral that’s most often harvested in places like Guatemala and Mexico. The value of this emerald green mineral is increasing and the latest calculations say its current value is around $3 million per carat.

jade

2 – Blue Garnet

Garnets can be found in various colors like brown, green, orange, pink, purple, red and yellow. Among all these colors the blue garnet is the only one with a considerably high value. This mineral was first discovered in the 1990s in Madagascar, and since then it has been mined in Russia, Turkey and the United States. The current value of this precious mineral is $1.5milion per carat.

blue

1 – Lithium

This mineral which is commonly known as a crucial ingredient in the production of rechargeable batteries was first discovered in 1817 in Stockholm by the Swedish chemist Johan August Arfvedson. Lithium is a highly valued mineral which represents a billion dollar industry. The largest supplies of this mineral are found in Afghanistan, and this country was hailed as the “Saudi Arabia of Lithium” in a Pentagon memo.

lithium

 

source: http://life.miningpeople.com.au, www.top10zen.com

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5,000 year-old silver mine discovered at Thorikos in Greece

“The cramped mines were likely to have been worked by slaves”

A team of mining archaeologists has investigated a 5,000-year-old silver mine in Thorikos, Greece.

The cramped mines were likely to have been worked by slaves, who endured the lack of light, fresh air, and temperatures that hovered around 70 degrees Fahrenheit, as archaeology.org reports.

The team of mining archaeologists was supervised by Prof. Dr Denis Morin of the University of Lorraine, connected with the UMR CNRS 5608 (UMR National Center for Scientific Research 5608) of Toulouse.

The scientists employed a drone to locate above-ground installations connected to the mining. It is the first time that such complex mining infrastructure is studied.

“The progress of the underground survey required a constant vigilance in this stuffy space where the rate of oxygen must be permanently watched,” Denis Morin of the University of Lorraine said in a press release.

The mines are at the foot of the Thorikos Acropolis, which overlooks the harbor of Lavrio southeast of Athens, and consist of a network of chambers, shafts and galleries and many of the subterranean network’s ceilings are no higher than 30 centimeters.

The team members have also found tool marks on the walls of the subterranean galleries, graffiti, pottery, oil lamps, stone hammers, and crushing areas.

By the fifth and fourth centuries B.C., silver was extracted on a large scale with a sophisticated system from shafts cut through the rock.

source:http://en.protothema.gr,  Feb, 15 2016

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Greeks strike against leftist government’s pension plans

A one-day strike brought Greece to a standstill on Thursday, as trade unions protested against the left-led government’s plans for pension reforms that could help appease foreign creditors, but risks pushing thousands of people further into poverty.

Domestic flights were grounded, ferries stay docked in ports and most public transportation was paralyzed as part of the strike organised by Greece’s main labour unions, GSEE and ADEDY.

Thursday’s action is the second nationwide walkout since leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras came to power in January 2015 on a pledge to end years of austerity, only to cave in and sign up to new reforms under a bailout package worth up to 86 billion euros, or face expulsion from the eurozone.

Thousands of workers, self-employed professionals, farmers and pensioners were expected to rally in central Athens around midday.

They will later march to parliament, in what is expected to be a test of the government’s resolve as it struggles to convince lenders it is committed to the terms of its third bailout while clinging on to a thin majority in parliament.

The nationwide strike coincides with a key bailout review.

The heads of the European Union and International Monetary Fund mission assessing Greece’s progress arrived in Athens this week to discuss the pension plan, tax reforms and bad loans weighing on banks.

The government wants to conclude the review swiftly to start talks on debt relief and convince Greeks that their sacrifices are paying off.

Greece must cut pension spending by 1 percent of GDP or 1.8 billion euros this year. To protect pensioners who have seen their pensions slashed 11 times since 2010, Athens plans to increase social security contributions.

But unions say the new plan hurts employment in a country where the jobless rate is 25 percent and forces workers, mainly self-employed, to tax evasion as it links social security contributions to income.

“We cannot live, we cannot survive with what the government is asking from us,” said farmer Socratis Aleiftiras, among thousands of farmers who have blocked roads across the country for the past two weeks.

Under terms of pension reform, their social security contributions will increase almost threefold in coming years.

Although the measures, which include the gradual phasing out of a pension benefit by 2019, are broadly in line with bailout demands, sources close to the lenders said they may not be enough to address a deeper-than-expected fiscal gap.

[Reuters]

source: ekathimerini.com, by Renee Maltezou

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Eldorado confirms commitment to its investment in Greece

Eldorado Gold has said it is determined to stick to its investment in Greece in spite of its decision to write down its Greek assets.

“Based on our long-term planning, we remain committed to the investment and the assets of the company in Greece and the expected benefits for the company’s shareholders,” Eldorado’s chief executive officer, Paul Wright, stated in the context of the announcement of the firm’s provisional financial results for 2015 and the estimates for 2016 on Monday.

Sources of subsidiary Hellenic Gold told Kathimerini that the asset write-down does not mean the parent company wishes to leave Greece.

source: ekathimerini.com, 27/01/2016

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Greek court annuls Govt. decision to revoke Eldorado Gold licence

Greece’s top administrative court ruled Wednesday that last year’s government decision to revoke Canada’s Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD) (NYSE:EGO) mining licence in the country’s north was baseless, Reuters reports.

The Vancouver-based company had appeal appealed Greece’s energy and environment ministry order that forced the company to temporarily halt operations in August. An October decision let the miner resume operations, but a final ruling was pending.

After months of waiting for a resolution, Eldorado Gold halted last week most operations at its Skouries gold mine, putting about 600 jobs on the line
After months of waiting for a resolution, Eldorado Gold halted last week most operations at its Skouries gold mine, putting about 600 jobs on the line. The company also warned it would do the same at its Olympias mine, risking another 500 jobs, if it didn’t secure necessary permits by the end of March.

Today’s ruling comes only a few days after Greece’s left-wing government accused the mining company of staging a “political show” and “blackmailing” authorities by cancelling work at Skouries, the country’s biggest foreign investment.

It also follows over a year of confrontations between Eldorado and the government of Greece, which included permits being revoked and delayed by the state multiple times.

The country’s ruling Syriza party has opposed the gold project, in the Thrace region, siding with many local residents who have staged several demonstrations. They claim the mine will destroy the environment and harm the area’s tourism potential.

There have also been both pro-mine protests, including a demonstration threat by the company’s local employees announced Monday and a march in April 2015, which attracted an estimated 4,000 supporters, forcing police to shut down major roads in Athens for several hours.

The company is not the first miner to struggle in Greece. In the 1990s, the Skouries and Olympias projects belonged to TVX Gold Inc., which failed to develop them because of local opposition. Eldorado has said it believed it could do better, in part because of its experience in developing mines in both neighbouring Turkey and China.

Currently the company employs 2,000 workers in an area with an unemployment rate above 30%.

source: mining.com, Cecilia Jamasmie | January 20, 2016

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Greece says Eldorado must resume mining operations before talks on investment can continue

Greece has asked Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corp to reverse its decision to halt much of its Greek mining operations and safeguard jobs as a condition for the two parties to continue talks on the country’s biggest foreign investment.

The Vancouver-based miner has been in a dispute with the Greek government after Energy Minister Panos Skourletis in August revoked the company’s permit to further develop its Skouries mine in a forested area of northern Greece on environmental concerns.

The case is widely seen as a test of the leftist government’s approach to foreign investment.

On Monday Eldorado said it would suspend construction at the Skouries project, putting more than 600 jobs at risk. It also warned it would do the same at its Olympias mine, risking another 500 jobs in northern Greece, if it didn’t secure necessary permits by the end of March.

Skourletis met Eldorado Chief Executive Officer Paul Wright on Wednesday.

“I told him that a condition for any talks from now own is the company taking back its decision,” the minister said after the meeting.

“We can’t discuss while being blackmailed,” he said.

Eldorado went to Greece’s top administrative court to annul the government’s decision to revoke its mining permit and a majority of judges in the court ruled in its favor in November, but the official decision is still pending.

The government has also delayed several other licenses Eldorado needs to develop its projects on the Halkidiki peninsula.

Greece needs investment to spur its economy but the leftist government has shown a reticence to allow foreign ownership of big projects.

Eldorado has created around 2,000 direct and indirect jobs in Greece, which suffers from a jobless rate of 25 percent, the highest in the euro zone.

The Canadian company has spent more than $700 million since 2012 when it took over the project on the Halkidiki peninsula and planned to invest another $1 billion in its quest for gold, copper and zinc at the Olympias and Skouries sites.

[Reuters]

Source:ekathimerini.com, ANGELIKI KOUTANTOU, 14.01.2016

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Eldorado Gold to stop investments in Greece

Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold says it is suspending work at a site in northern Greece and laying off 600 workers following protests by local residents and a spat with the country’s left wing government.

The Vancouver, Canada-based company said Tuesday that it was suspending operations at a gold mine at Skouries, one of four major Greek sites where the company is involved.

Eldorado Gold CEO Paul Wright said 500 more jobs were also likely to be cut later in the year.

Wright accused the government of using the mining project as a “political toy” but insisted the company had no plans to pull out of Greece.

Elected a year ago, the leftwing government has expressed support for resident protest groups near Skouries who oppose the project on environmental grounds.

Wright said the company might suspend works in the Olympias site in Chalkidiki if the license is not approved within three months. Eldorado Gold has also frozen the projects in Perama Hill and Sapes in Thrace. They are also considering freezing the expansion of the mine at Stratoni.

The company CEO gave a press conference where he said that, “Since 2012 we created 2,000 direct and 3,000 indirect jobs and invested more than 700 million euros for development projects in Skouries and Olympias. We have paid over 700 million euros in taxes for Skouries and Olympias.”

“We invest in many countries but in Greece, our investment became politicized, it turned into a political game,” Wright said. “Greek finance ministers invite foreign investors to come to Greece. We are an example for foreign investors. We need to be partners with the government and have good cooperation to achieve the investment for our own benefit and for the economy.” He also added that the company has asked to meet with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras but he has not yet responded.

Wright gave detailed figures of what the project in Chalkidiki would mean to the Greek economy:

1 billion euros in social security contributions
1.5 billion euros in salaries
100 million euros in associations and local organizations
150 million euros in environmental improvements
75 million in infrastructure projects in the region
2.5 billion euros in payments to local suppliers of goods and services

This is the first and perhaps the largest private investment of foreign capital in our country, totaling 1.2 billion euros, say financial analysts.

“We operate in good faith and Hellas Gold has complied with all contractual obligations, however, due to unfavorable conditions it is prudent to reduce capital investment in Greece at the time,” said a company statement addressed to the Athens Stock Exchange.

The Canadian company attributes the decision to stop the investment to the policies of the Ministry of Environment and Energy. Wright described the attitude of the Greek government as “openly confrontational” and argues that its subsidiary Hellas Gold is “unable at this stage to complete its investment plans in Chalkidiki because of acts and omissions of the ministry and other public services, relating to the timely issuance of routine licenses and permits which is a legal and contractual obligation of the Greek government.”

Wright clarified that the investment has great prospects and Eldorado Gold is willing to continue the investment. However, he said, the Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy creates significant risks and obstacles that leave no other choice but to reduce activities and staff.

“We hope to resume our activities and investment plans in Greece if we get the necessary permits on time and there is a real working relationship in the context of contractual obligations between Hellas Gold and the Greek government,” he noted. “We would like to create more jobs but the policy of the environment ministry made that impossible.”

In Skouries 600 workers will lose their jobs. This will be done gradually, as the company will maintain the workers who are essential for the basic functions for a period of 3-4 months, which has set a timeframe for the company to get license approval from the Ministry of Environment and Energy.

In Olympias 500 workers are at risk of losing their jobs. In this case the project continues and is awaiting approvals that will determine whether or not the investment will continue.

Wright will meet with New Democracy president Kyriakos Mitsotakis, PASOK leader Fofi Gennimata, Potami leader Stavros Theodorakis, and Centrists Union president Vassilis Leventis to discuss the situation.

The government does not succumb to blackmail, says Environment Min Skourletis
The government does not succumb to blackmail, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis on Tuesday said in statements to Praktorio 104.9 FM following “Eldorado Gold” announcement that it partly suspends its construction works at Skouries.

Skourletis expressed his disappointment over the fact that CEO of the Canadian company, Paul Wright, decided to cancel their scheduled meeting on Tuesday.

Skourletis sternly criticized those who accuse the government that 2,000 people will lose their jobs after the retirement of Eldorado from Northern Halkidiki and cleared out that the decision will affect around 830 workers.

source: Greekreporter.com, Philip Chrysopoulos – Jan 12, 2016

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Eldorado Gold Announces Amended Investment Plans in Greece

VANCOUVER , Jan. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado” or the “Company”) confirms that it will implement significant changes to its investment plans in Greece going forward.
In order to complete the construction and development of its mining projects (the “Kassandra Mines”) in Halkidiki, northern Greece , Hellas Gold , a Greek subsidiary of Eldorado, requires the approval of various routine permits and licenses from a number of government agencies, predominantly under the direction of the Ministry of Energy and Environment (the “Ministry”).
Hellas Gold received approval for its Environmental Impact Study in 2011, yet since 2012, the Ministry and other agencies have not entirely fulfilled their permitting and licensing obligations primarily as a result of the lobbying efforts by anti-development interest groups. In addition, during 2015, the Ministry revoked or suspended certain permits of Hellas Gold ( news releases dated: March 2, 2015 & August 19, 2015 ), which has had a negative impact on the Company’s schedule and budget to develop its assets.
Hellas Gold has been forced to seek remedy in the courts of law in order to address these permitting delays and various court decisions have been made in the Company’s favour, and others remain outstanding. A building permit, that would allow Hellas Gold to complete the construction of the Skouries processing plant, has been delayed for over three years.
Hellas Gold is presently unable to complete its development plans in Halkidiki as a result of the actions and/or inactions of the Ministry and other agencies regarding the timely issuance of routine permits and licenses, which is not only a legal responsibility, but also a contractual obligation of the Greek State.
Skouries Project (Halkidiki)
Construction and development activities at the Skouries Project (with over US$300 million invested to-date), will be suspended. Environmental protection works and care and maintenance activities will continue to be performed in order to safeguard the environment and the assets of the Company at site at a cost of approximately US$1 million per month.
Olympias Project (Halkidiki)
As part of Phase 2 of the Olympias Project , the underground mine is being readied to produce ore at a mining rate of approximately 385,000 tonnes per year. As of the first quarter 2017, ore from the mine will then be treated at the Olympias mill, where refurbishment at a cost of approximately US$55 million is expected to be completed in 2016. However, refurbishment plans are dependent on the Ministry granting the required installation permit. In December 2015 , Hellas Gold submitted all necessary documentation to the Ministry required to obtain this permit, which must be granted within 60 days from the time of submission according to the Greek mining regulations. Should the Ministry fail to issue the installation permit by the end of the first quarter 2016, Hellas Gold will also be forced to suspend all construction and development activities at its Olympias Project . There are currently approximately 500 people working on the Olympias Project .
Stratoni Mine (Halkidiki)
The Stratoni Mine currently has a life of mine of approximately three years based on the known proven and probable reserves. Geological potential exists to expand resources and extend mine life, however, in order to delineate additional resources, a mining development and drilling campaign would be required at an estimated cost of US$25 million over the next three years, assuming timely issuance of any permits that may be required.
Eldorado is currently evaluating the merits of implementing this programme in light of the current investment climate in Greece .
Perama Hill and Sapes Projects (Thrace)
Approvals by the Ministry for the Perama Hill Project’s Environmental Impact Study and for a drilling permit required at the Sapes Project in Thrace, northeastern Greece , have been pending for over two years. The Company has decided to put both projects on care and maintenance with expenditures being kept at the minimum level required to preserve the title and rights to both projects.
Paul N. Wright , President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado Gold , commented:
“Eldorado Gold has been, and remains, a committed, responsible and patient partner to the Greek government and to the people of the communities in which we operate. The projects have considerable potential with demonstrated economic and social benefits. At this time, we would instead prefer to be creating additional employment in Greece and advancing the construction and development of our Skouries and Olympias Projects in Halkidiki, as well as our assets in Thrace. However, we have a duty to all our stakeholders and the significant time and process risks created by Greece ‘s Ministry of Energy and Environment have left us with no choice but to reduce activities and personnel.
Since 2012, we have created approximately 2,000 direct jobs in the country and invested in excess of US$700 million towards development of the Skouries and Olympias projects – including tax payments in excess of €120 million to the Greek government. In Halkidiki, we have the support of the vast majority of the local stakeholders. Furthermore, we have had numerous decisions of the Council of State , Greece ‘s Supreme Court on administrative and environmental matters, confirming the integrity of our permits. However, since the beginning of 2015, the Ministry has adopted an openly confrontational attitude towards our business and investments, which has had a detrimental impact on our schedule and budget to develop our mineral assets in Halkidiki.
We have operated in good faith and Hellas Gold has complied with all of its contractual obligations, but given the adverse circumstances mentioned above, it is prudent to reduce our capital allocation to Greece at this time. We wish to recommence the suspended activities and our investment plans in Greece upon the timely issuance of the necessary permits and the establishment of a truly collaborative partnership, within the framework of the contractual obligations between Hellas Gold and the Greek State.”
2016 Guidance Release Date
Eldorado will provide additional capital and operational figures for its Greek assets during disclosure of its 2015 Operating Results and 2016 Guidance, which will be issued on January 25, 2016 .
Press Conference
Paul Wright and senior management from Hellas Gold will host a press conference at the Athens Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, January 12, 2015 at 11:00 AM local time (GMT+2) to discuss Eldorado’s amended investment plans in Greece . Paul’s speech will be available shortly after the press conference at www.eldoradogold.com .
Conference Call
Paul Wright will host a conference call on Tuesday, January 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM ET ( 5:00 AM PT ) to discuss Eldorado’s amended investment plans in Greece. The call will be webcast and can be accessed at www.eldoradogold.com .
Participants may join the call by dialing toll-free: 1 888 231 8191 or 647 427 7450. A replay will be available until January 19, 2015 by dialing toll-free: 1 855 859 2056 or 416 849 0833 (pass code 2437 9146).

SOURCE: Eldorado Gold Corporation

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Hellas Gold is seeking answers

According to information from the inner circle of Hellas Gold, the company does not intend to abandon its investment in Greece and the region of Halkidiki.

The leadership of the Ministry of Environment and Energy and Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Eldorado Gold, are testing their limits and their relationship is on thin ice, because of the uncertainty in regards to the future of the Canadian company’s investment in Greece, in anticipation for the final decision of the Council of State concerning the withdrawal of the technical studies for the project in Skouries.

The decision of the Council of State: It should be noted that the decision of the Council of State, which on November 2, 2015 validated the action brought by Hellas Gold, the Worker’s Centre of Halkidiki and other unions against the decision of the Minister for the Environment and Energy Panos Skourletis  to revoke the technical studies for the project in Skouries and part of the Olympias project, has yet to be written up and served to interested parties, and this delay is not in favour of the development potential of the investment project of Hellas Gold.

Next week is expected to be crucial for the outcome of the case, as the CEO of Eldorado Gold, Paul Wright is going to visit Athens and, according to our sources, will seek to get clear answers about the government’s intention towards an investment of 1.5 billion Euros by Eldorado Gold in Greece, stating once again to the Greek side with the familiar style of all investors that financial agreements and investments follow specific timelines and cost conditions in order for them to be sustainable and effective.

However, according to the inner cycle of Hellas Gold, the company does not intend to abandon its investment in Greece and the region of Halkidiki. In fact, they stress that “they have suffered in 2015, but their goal is to succeed, because they have already invested 650 million Euros in this country”.

Protests: Meanwhile, yesterday, the employees of Hellas Gold in Halkidiki protested because the company Aktor fired 28 workers who worked in the Gallery in Skouries, due to lack of work. Workers point out that they are anxious about their future and troubled by the government’s delays in regards to the investment for gold in Halkidiki.

[SOURCE: NAFTEMPORIKI, 9/01/2016, by Letta Kalamara]

 

 

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Gold hits seven-week high on global cues, miners soar

Gold has begun 2016 on a winning streak, hitting a seven-week high in early trading Wednesday as it builds on gains from earlier in the week, triggered mainly by escalating geo-political tensions in the Middle East and North Korea’s nuclear test.

February Comex gold was last up $10.20 at $1,088.7 an ounce. Earlier, the contract hit $1,089.20, the highest since December 4.

Positive outlooks for the metal are now popping up again. Swiss bank UBS, for one, headlined its technical outlook for 2016 as follows: “The 7-Year Cycle in Equities Is Rolling Over . . . Buy Gold!,” and it adds:

“Gold has been trading in a cyclical bear market since 2011.

In 2016, we expect gold and gold mines moving into an eight-year cycle bottom as the basis for the next multi-year bull market.

Initially, we see gold profiting as a safe haven and as of 2017, gold could profit from the US dollar moving in a major top and starting a bear market.”

(Via Bloomberg)
Global research firm Capital Economics is on the same page. In its official 2016 outlook report, released Tuesday, the firm’s commodities economist, Julian Jessop, said he expects prices to hit $1,250 by the end of the year as more demand from emerging markets and building inflation concerns in developed economies provide support.

Investors seem to be following quite closely these reports, as most gold producers saw their shares soar Wednesday morning.

Barrick Gold (TSX, NYSE:ABX), the world’s largest bullion miner, was up 4.11% in Toronto to $11.14 at 10:42 am ET.

Shares in another Canadian producer, Goldcorp (TSX:G), (NYSE:GG), which is the world’s most valuable listed gold mining company, were trading 4.32% higher to $16.90 in Toronto. And Kinross Gold’s (TSX:K) stock was up 2.32% to $2.65

In New York, Newmont Mining (NYSE:NEM) was up 1.85% to $1876 and AngloGold Ashanti’s (NYSE:AU) had gained 2.17% to $7.52 by 11:00 am ET.

Still, some seem unsure of whether this gold’s mini-revival can be sustained. INTL FCStone looks for gold to fall below $1,000 an ounce during “another difficult year for the bulls” in 2016, possibly hitting $950, although the firm also sees a high above $1,200.

Citi, in turn, says it expects bullion prices to keep falling in 2016, though in a non-dramatic way: $1,030 in the first quarter, dropping over subsequent quarters to $1,000, $980 and $960.

source: www.mining.com/Cecilia Jamasmie | January 6, 2016

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A deep connection

THE SOCIAL NETWORKING platform Mineler connects colleagues in mining anywhere, anytime.
“Imagine that together, mining people can make the most of the world’s natural resources for the benefit of all.” That was the rallying call of Paul Faix, co-founder of Mineler, the social networking platform for workers in the mining industry, when the website was introduced.
Launched in November 2014 by a Perth-based start-up of the same name with more than 60,000 preregistered members, Mineler boasts a growing membership and is already establishing a reputation as an important network for workers in the mining industry. Based on the same principles as LinkedIn, a business-oriented social networking service, users create their own profiles and the Mineler platform offers them the chance to connect with other users in mining-related industries around the globe. Individual members must pay a fee to access the service.
The link that binds
“The mining industry is kind of unique in that it’s based around remote and distant projects,” says Mineler marketing manager Cam Sinclair. He says the website – and app, now available for the iPhone and iPad – will give members of the mining industry a social marketplace in which they can share ideas, work history and experiences and interact on a site-location basis using geolocation.
“Often, you’ll find people sharing ideas based on what sites they’re on, and you get a sense of community there,” Sinclair says. “The idea was always that mining, which is perceived as very innovative with regard to mining technologies, can also be very antiquated when it comes to people, management, labour and how it does those things.
“What we really wanted to do is actually help mining companies digitize the latest management practices, including the outsourcing of labour and people, by creating a global marketplace.”
How it works
While Mineler’s primary function is to facilitate job searches for projects, it also keeps users up to date with business and contract opportunities. The Mineler marketplace allows companies to find flexible, crowd-sourced workforces and international supplier bases. Members create their own industry-specific CVs that are targeted to companies in their field and showcase their online experience. Operators can also post work tenders, from small tasks to full service or supply contracts. Members can bid for these tenders via the online platform.
Adapt or perish
Mineler co-founder Ben Auld, a mining consultant, says the global mining industry is facing seismic structural changes. He says the website was created as a response to the need for the industry to adapt to impending structural changes.
“Growing costs, lower productivity, skills shortages and remote worksites have created a genuine need for more flexible workforces and smarter, more innovative company operations, and Mineler provides that,” Auld says.
With more than 150 million workers employed in the mining industry worldwide, Mineler has a potentially significant role to play in future years. “Now more than ever, knowledge is becoming as valuable a commodity as anything that can be dug out of the ground,” Faix says. “Mineler is positioned at the intersection of the mining industry and the knowledge economy. We are very excited about the future.”
To learn more about Mineler, visit mineler.com.
Text: Alastair MacDuff Photos: Getty/Mineler

source: http://minestories.com

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Euro area factories end 2015 with best growth in 20 months

Manufacturing in the euro area accelerated at the fastest pace in 20 months in December as rising new orders propelled output.

A Purchasing Managers’ Index for the industry rose to 53.2 from 52.8 in November, exceeding a Dec. 16 estimate for an increase to 53.1, Markit Economics said on Monday. For the first time since April 2014, manufacturing expanded in all nations covered including Greece, according to the report.

The economic recovery in the 19-nation euro area is picking up as unprecedented stimulus by the European Central Bank is reaching companies and households. Bank lending accelerated in November in a sign of increased spending and investment, and economic confidence is at the highest level in more than four years.

“The conditions remain in place for a modest euro-zone cyclical upturn,” said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight in London. “Much will depend on the global economic environment – and it is currently hard to see euro-zone growth really stepping up a gear.”

The euro was little changed after the report and traded at $1.0915 at 10:21 a.m. Frankfurt time.

In China, manufacturing weakened for a fifth straight month, the longest streak since 2009. The country’s benchmark stock index tumbled almost 7 percent and the yuan slumped after the report highlighting sliding exports thanks to sluggish growth abroad, and overcapacity at home. A gauge of Chinese services rose to the highest level in more than a year.

Recovery gain

“The end of 2015 saw the euro-zone manufacturing recovery gain further traction,” said Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit. “Italy remained the leading light in December, while accelerated growth in Germany and France added welcome buoyancy to the region’s manufacturing performance.”

Gauges for euro-area production, new orders and new export business all improved, according to Markit. At an average of 52.2 for all of 2015, the PMI exceeded results recorded in each of the prior three years, the London-based company said.

“While there is much to be positive about in these figures, the underlying picture is still one of solid yet unspectacular expansion,” said Dobson. “With euro-zone manufacturing still some 10 percent off its pre-crisis peak, it looks as if the sector still has some distance to travel before the climb back to full recovery is completed.”

[Bloomberg]

source:ekathimerini.com, Jana Randow

 

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Thirteen Greeks on LLoyd’s Top 100 List

Thirteen Greeks are on Lloyd’s Top 100 List of most influential personalities in the competitive shipping industry.

John Angelicoussis is at number 5 of the list, with his shipping group being “a leader in scale and operational ability.”

Angeliki Frangou of the Navios Group is at number 16, followed by George Economou of Cardiff Marine/TMS Group/DryShips at number 17. George Prokopiou of Dynacom/Dynagas is next at 18.

Peter G. Livanos of GasLog is at number 21, while Petros Pappas of Star Bulk figures at 31. Nikolas Tsakos of Tsakos Energy Navigation is at number 45.

Peter Georgiopoulos of Gener8 Maritime and Theodore Veniamis of Union of Greek Shipowners follow at numbers 47 and 48 respectively.

Kostis Konstantakopoulos of Costamare is at number 52, while Evangelos Marinakis of Capital Maritime figures at number 65.

Simos P. Palios of Diana Shipping is at number 88, while Dimitris Melissanidis of Aegean completes the list of Greeks at number 98.

source: greekrepporter.com, Philip Chrysopoulos –
Dec 27, 2015

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Eni renews deal for oil, gas search off Cyprus

The Cypriot government has renewed an agreement with Italian energy company Eni and its South Korean partner KOGAS to search for oil and gas in waters off the Mediterranean island’s southern coast.

Eni said in August that it discovered off Egypt’s coast what it called the biggest gas field ever found in the Mediterranean Sea. Cyprus Energy Minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said Eni’s license to search in three areas has been extended to February 2018.

He stated after a cabinet meeting on Monday that exploratory drilling could begin sometime in 2017, but a consortium study is still in its preliminary stage.

Earlier this month, French energy company Total also renewed its license to search for oil and gas off Cyprus for two more years.

[AP]

source: ekathimerini.com/business

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World Gold Council outlook for 2016

Alistair Hewitt, Head of Market Intelligence for the World Gold Council said:

“2015 has been a fascinating year for the gold market, with strong demand from central banks, Asian markets and the European bar and coin market. The pro-gold schemes introduced by the Indian government and the further internationalisation of the renminbi alongside the increasing transparency of Chinese gold reserves will continue to improve the market next year. Gold’s role as a portfolio diversifier, a wealth preservation tool and a tail risk hedge will continue to prevail due to expensive stock valuations and high liquidity risks. Finally gold’s cultural significance endures as we look ahead to 2016.”

Synopsis

2015 has been an interesting year in the gold market, but the big question is what will shape the global gold market over the next year?

Up until 2012 gold enjoyed a decade long bull run driven by a combination of factors:

Strong emerging market growth supporting consumer demand
Central banks gold purchases to diversify reserves
Financial innovation making gold easier to buy; and
The global financial crisis and its aftermath
The past three years have seen a slightly different picture for the gold price as the US economy began to recover and fears of deceleration in emerging markets contributed to a decline in the price:

A better economic performance in the US has made a Federal Reserve rate rise likely for the first time in six and a half years – this pushes the dollar higher and so, could be seen to put downward pressure on the price of gold.·
The dollar price is down 10%, investor sentiment remains bearish, average net-longs are at their lowest since 2003 and although they have slowed substantially, ETF outflows continue.
In our view, though the effect that the anticipated US rate rise has had on gold has already been largely priced in as the market has been anticipating this increase for almost a year and a half.
Whilst the US dollar price is one driver of gold demand it is not always the most relevant factor for most investors. In fact, our research shows that higher interest rates are not necessarily bad for gold:

Physical demand for gold is truly global – more than 90% comes from outside the US, primarily the Asian economies – particularly China and India.
In these economies local price matters most – and in 2015 the non US Goldollar gold price has held up, even inching slightly higher.
If there is a temporary downward impact of the price of gold due to a US rate rise then this could well lead to increased demand in price sensitive markets such as India and China.
We have already seen evidence in China via developments with the Shanghai Gold Exchange wanting to have gold traded in Yuan and in India, the Indian gold trade expressing an intent to establish a gold exchange
In 2015 we have seen the continuation of a number of trends in the global gold market:

Asian markets continue to be strong drivers of gold demand with both India and China up year on year as of Q3 2015.
Global bar and coin demand is more than double its pre-crisis levels and the strength of bar and coin demand in Europe is now well established, having been non-existent prior to the financial crisis.
Recycling is down and mine production has begun to level off.
This year the Indian government has introduced the gold monetisation scheme, a gold bond and a sovereign gold coin in order to monetise the gold stocks held by the Indian people that are estimated to be about 22,000 tonnes.
In China there have also been dramatic changes this year. The PBoC’s announcements on the additions to their gold reserves from June onwards have been a welcome development in transparency. And gold’s role in protecting against currency weakness was illustrated perfectly on the 11th and
12th August this year after the PBoC devalued the yuan.

Against this backdrop, the outlook for gold demand in 2016 remains optimistic:

Gold continues to play a very effective role as a hedge, as stock valuations in the US and elsewhere remain elevated, as investors have increased their risk exposure in search of returns amid a very low yield environment.
While there are some concerns about GDP growth across emerging markets, economic output continues to increase and so do incomes – this, in turn, strengthens the case for gold as a long-term strategic asset and wealth preservation tool.
We are likely to see further developments in the key Asian markets with the continuing introduction of the pro-gold schemes and potentially a gold exchange in India.
Following the launch of the International Board by the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) to open up the Chinese gold market to international investors, SGE’s plans to introduce a yuan-denominated gold pricing mechanism to facilitate regional market trading are also likely to take shape in 2016.

World Gold Council | December 16, 2015

source: mining.com

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“Greek Value Awards of Northern Greece”: for the fourth consecutive year, the companies that stood out in 2014 are honoured

“Hellas Gold SA” received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award

The Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (FING) in collaboration with the newspaper “Kathimerini”, organized the award ceremony for the “GREEK VALUE AWARDS of Northern Greece” yesterday evening, Friday, December 11, 2015 at 19:00 at the Met Hotel in Thessaloniki, to reward companies that stood out for their performance in the business and social arena in 2014.

The “GREEK VALUE AWARDS of Northern Greece”, is a reward institution for the processing companies in Northern Greece, which is organized for the fourth consecutive year in recognition of the important work done by the industry, in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis plaguing the Greek economy.

During the ceremony the companies received awards by the Deputy Minister of Industry, Mrs. Theodora Tzakri, the Commercial & Agricultural Banking Administration Officer of Piraeus Bank Mr. Christodoulos Antoniadis, the CEO of Athens Exchange Group, Mr. Socrates Lazaridis, the Rector of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Prof.  Pericles Mitkas, the Rector of the University of Macedonia, Prof..Achilles Zapranis, the President of the International Hellenic University Prof. Kostas Grammenos and the Commercial Director of the newspaper “Kathimerini” Mrs. Natasha Bouterakou.

The coordination of the presentation of the award ceremony was undertaken by the well-known journalist, Ms. Maria Nikoltsiou.

In the framework of the institution “Greek Value”, Hellas Gold was awarded the Corporate Social Responsibility of the FING.

The award was received by  H.G. Head of PR and CSR, Konstantinos Georgantzis, who dedicated it to all the employees and, addressing the attendees, including the Deputy Minister of Industry Theodora Tzakri, he said:

“I wish that our country receives not one, but 10, 100 investments equivalent to the investment of Hellas Gold.

I also wish that it shall be feasible to keep these investments in Greece and not turn them away, since only this way can the economy escape the present quagmire.”

Commenting on the award, the Manager Director of Hellas Gold Michalis Theodorakopoulos said:

Young engineers should be distinguished in the field of daily success in scientific knowledge and recognition.

Regarding the CSR congratulations are due to those who initiated it in HG 10 years ago, visualizing a united local community and of course to Eldorado Gold. Eldorado Gold which still supports us and believes in our society“.

Piraeus Bank was the main sponsor of the event.

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Hellas Gold “We respect all the court decisions the same way we respect all the decisions of the Council of State”

The Manager Director of Hellas Gold, Mr. Michael Theodorakopoulos, made a statement regarding the reports on the recent decision of the General Court of the European Commission for the return of the “illegal state aid” by the company:

“Hellas Gold SA, has a settled principle of fully respecting the decisions of Justice, whether adopted at a national level or at European level.

The European Commission, after an anonymous complaint in 2006, decided that there had been “illegal state aid” during the transfer of the Cassandra Mines in 2003 by the Greek State to Hellas Gold, amounting to 15.3 million Euros. Both the Greek government and our company appealed to the General Court of the European Union challenging the accuracy of this decision. Nevertheless, the General Court decided otherwise on 09.12.2015.

The company still has its reservations about the validity of the decision of the European Commission and is considering submitting an appeal to the plenary of the European Court for its annulment. It should be noted that for technical reasons the decision of the General Court has not yet been officially served by the Secretariat of the Court. Once we receive it, we will study it and we will proceed with the legal action.

Beyond that, it should be clarified that today there is no issue of recovery of the above amount by the Greek State, as this has been fully paid by our company since the summer of 2014, under EU legislation, a total amount of 21 million Euros including interest.”

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Turkish Stream Gas Pipeline does not become ‘victim’ of Russia-Turkey tension

Russia currently has no plan to freeze the overall construction of the Turkish Stream gas pipeline as tension between Russia and Turkey continues over the shooting of a Russian jet fighter by the Turkish Air Force.

Although, according to Newsweek, the Russian-Turkish Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation—the body through which large joint-projects between the two countries are agreed—has been suspended for the time being. This would not affect the projects already under construction, including the so-called “Turkish Stream” pipeline

Reuters reports, that two sources at Russia’s Gazprom said that this move is in retaliation for Turkey’s hostile activity, as Russia continues to impose sanctions against Turkey.

“We’re expecting that the head of state, in all likelihood, could declare a freezing of the Turkish stream, or at least some kind of timeout should be announced,” one source said.

The Turkish Stream project was to build a new gas pipeline under the Black Sea to Turkey, and in subsequent phases the construction of a further line from Turkey to Greece, and then overland into Southeastern Europe.

source:greece.greekreporter.com, By Philip Chrysopoulos – Dec 2, 2015

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Swiss scientists make gold nugget ‘as light as air’

A team of Switzerland-based researchers have created a gold-foam material from protein fibres derived from milk that is light enough to float on water and, even at today’s depressed prices, is about 1,000 times cheaper than solid gold.

The 20-carats gold nugget can hardly be differentiated from conventional gold with the naked eye – the aerogel even has a metallic shine, according to ETH Zurich’s press release.

The new material is soft and malleable by hand, as it consists of 98 parts air and only two parts of solid material.
But unlike bullion, the new material is soft and malleable by hand, as it consists of 98 parts air and only two parts of solid material. “Of this solid material, more than four-fifths are gold and less than one-fifth is milk protein fibrils,” the team explained.

Among its potential applications, the researchers envision light watches and jewellery. They also think it would be an excellent catalyst in scientific experiments because it’s so porous, allowing chemicals to react with the gold particles all the way through the foam.

The new gold form, they say, could even be used in pressure sensors. While the foam doesn’t conduct electricity under typical room conditions, the gold particles touch when the foam is compressed, allowing electricity to move through it.

Dr. Raffaele Mezzenga and Dr. Gustav Nyström published their study last week in the journal Advanced Materials.

Hat Tip: Kitco.com

source: www.mining.com/Cecilia Jamasmie | December 1, 2015

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Obama boosts asteroid mining, signs law granting rights to own space riches

U.S. citizens can now legally own resources mined in space after President Barack Obama signed into law a debated bill that allows people to mine, sell and own any space material.

The ground-breaking rule is considered a major boost to asteroid mining as it encourages the commercial exploration and utilization of resources from asteroids obtained by U.S. firms.

“This is the single greatest recognition of property rights in history,” said Eric Anderson, co-founder and co-chairman of Planetary Resources, a company pioneering the space mining industry. “This legislation establishes the same supportive framework that created the great economies of history, and will encourage the sustained development of space,” he added.

“A hundred years from now, humanity will look at this period in time as the point in which we were able to establish a permanent foothold in space,” said Peter Diamandis, co-founder of the company. “In history, there has never been a more rapid rate progress than right now.”

The new regulation makes it easier for innovators to “return” the U.S. to suborbital space and further develop the domestic space industry.

Among the members of the U.S. Congress who lobbied the introduction of the revolutionary law, Florida senator Marco Rubio said the new regulation makes it easier for innovators to “return” the U.S. to suborbital space and further develop the domestic space industry. “Throughout our entire economy, we need to eliminate unnecessary regulations that cost too much and make it harder for American innovators to create jobs. This Bill is an important win for Florida’s space coast and the entire space exploration community,” he commented.

Fellow Congress lobbyist, Florida senator Bill Posey, described the bipartisan, bicameral legislation as a landmark for U.S. leadership in space exploration. “Recognizing basic legal protections in space will help pave the way for exciting future commercial space endeavours,” he said.

obama-asteroid-mining
Some asteroids are packed with minerals valued in the trillions of dollars. (Image byMarcelClemens|Shutterstock.com)

Hannah Kerner, executive director of the Space Frontier Foundation, said the newly signed law extends the American free-market values into space, “which is absolutely essential if we are going to succeed at creating an environment where commercial space businesses thrive.”

Valid?

It remains unknown whether the unilateral move by the U.S. to claim space ownership is valid. According to the Outer Space Treaty, signed by the U.S., Russia, and a number of other countries, nations can’t own territory in space.

“Outer space shall be free for exploration and use by all States,” the treaty says, adding that “outer space is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.”

The new law, however, does include a very important clause, as it clarifies that it does not grant “sovereignty or sovereign or exclusive rights or jurisdiction over, or the ownership of, any celestial body.”

Geologists believe asteroids are packed with iron ore, nickel and precious metals at much higher concentrations than those found on Earth, making up a market valued in the trillions of dollars.

source: http://www.mining.com/, Cecilia Jamasmie | November 26, 2015

 

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What everyone should know about Eldorado’s sustainability practices

Eldorado works hard to create a company that makes our employees and local communities proud. This means safe and environmentally-friendly operations, reasonable pay for work done, and making a positive impact on the lives of people we touch.

To oversee this effort, Eldorado’s Board of Directors includes a Sustainability Committee, chaired by Geoffrey Handley. We caught up with Geoff to ask how he views this essential part of our business.

What does the Sustainability Committee do?

The Sustainability Committee encourages best practices and monitoring programs to continually improve employee safety and security, protection and improvement of the environment, and advancement of living standards in communities around our mines.

Why is it important to operate sustainably?

We prefer the term “operating responsibly,” which includes minimizing our footprint, creating and maintaining positive relationships, and generating opportunities in the local communities that last beyond the lives of our mines.

Only companies with a track record of looking after their employees, the environment and communities will be able to continue to operate over the long term.

What are mining companies doing now that they didn’t do in the past?

Mining is a completely different industry than it was three or four decades ago. Now, companies are recognizing that they need many licenses – both legal and social – to operate. New technologies have made mines safer and decreased environmental impacts, and made it easier to engage with all stakeholder groups.

In the future, the mining companies that are going to be successful are the ones that are managing their impacts, building and maintaining relationships, and listening to and engaging with their stakeholders.

What do you think are Eldorado’s biggest sustainability challenges?

Mining has a reputation as a boom and bust industry, which can make it hard to build trust in local communities. Eldorado manages this risk by running lean operations – we are among the lowest cost producers in the industry. A strong, profitable mine is more able to implement safety, environmental and community relations plans above and beyond legal compliance. We work hard to communicate with our stakeholders about the good work we’re doing at our sites through platforms like  Facebook and this blog.

Learn more about Eldorado’s governance approach in our 2014 Sustainability Report.

by on July 30, 2015 in Eldorado Gold

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Bomb blasts Hellenic Federation of Enterprises offices in Athens

A bomb exploded on Tuesday morning causing serious damages at the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) offices in Athens.

The explosion occurred at 3:35 am at Xenofontos Street, next to Syntagma Square, and the noise was heard kilometers away. Several people called the police asking about the noise.

At 2:51 am, an anonymous person called Vima and Efimerida ton Syntakton newspapers and said: “A bomb has been placed at the SEV building on Xenofontos Street. There will be an explosion in 40 minutes. This is not a farce.”

Police and the fire department evacuated the area and cordoned off Xenofontos, Amalias and Filellinon streets before the blast. Police warned the guests of the hotel across the street to stay in their rooms.

According to police, the explosive device was of medium power and was in a rucksack placed near the entrance of the offices. No injuries are reported, but the damages were extensive due to the pressure wave and the fact that the building had a lot of glass surfaces.

So far, no organization has claimed responsibility for placing the explosive device. Investigations are ongoing.

source: greece.greekreporter.com, Philip Chrysopoulos -Nov 24, 2015

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ESM approves 2 billion euro disbursment to Greece

The European Stability Mechanism’s (ESM) Board of Directors authorized the disbursement of 2 billion euros to Greece, following the country’s completion of the first set of prior actions as demanded by creditors. In the ESM’s announcement it is mentioned that the disbursement will primarily be used for debt service, as well as for the clearance of arrears, along with co-financing projects funded by the EU structural funds.

The director of the ESM Klaus Regling said that “today’s decision of disbursing 2 billion euros from the ESM represents the Greek government’s commitment to the program and to applying a vast list of reforms. This includes reforms of the financial sector which are very important for the recapitalization of the banks. If the program implementation remains strong, then I am confident that the reform efforts of the Greek people will allow them to make visible strides towards a strong recovery”.

However, there is no mention in the ESM’s announcement about the 10 billion euros needed for the recapitalization of the banks, for which the Eurogroup is expected to rule on at a later date.

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Growing the economy without debt: Possibility or wishful thinking?

During the Greek debt crisis, Greek and European politicians have often referred to an “alternative” public policy mix that could enhance growth and reduce debt accumulation. For instance, among many others, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in May 2015 said that “Greece needs a new policy mix.”

Although politicians long ago recognized the need for a different policy mix, it has not been clearly defined and, in turn, has not been implemented. At the same time, many scientific articles propose policy reforms regarding the optimal mix of public expenditures. In particular, recently, it has been proved that an intertemporal change in the allocation of existing government revenues in favor of the more productive sectors can boost growth without the need for more debt, higher taxes or spending cuts. The idea there is simple. The relative productivity of public services among different sectors changes over time. Thus, due to technological progress, some sectors become redundant and some more productive. This generates an opportunity to promote those sectors that are more productive using the current government revenues with mutual benefits to the others.

However, a careful inspection of the data shows that the relative share of government expenditures across sectors changes slightly over time. For example, data from Greek national accounts reveal that the GDP share of public expenses that go toward education is almost constant at 4 percent with small fluctuations. Meanwhile, the productivity of education has increased, for example, due to the introduction of computers and electronic learning. Similarly, the GDP share of public expenses in other sectors of the economy that have become relatively less productive has remained constant. This means that politicians have failed to take into account intertemporal changes in relative productivity.

Yet a reallocation of resources across public sectors may entail substantive social benefits. Consider the following numerical example: Assume that in year A public revenues are 10 euros equally distributed between two sectors, education and health. Further assume that with 5 euros spent on doctors we can cure 10 people and with the remaining 5 euros spent on education we can educate 10 doctors. In this case, the productivity of both sectors is 10/5=2 (with every euro we can cure 2 patients or educate 2 doctors). Let’s assume that in the following year B, due to advancements in technology,1 public revenues increase to 12 euros and productivity in education increases to 3 2 while it remains at 2 in the health sector. If we follow the previous rule for the allocation of resources, with 6 euros spent on doctors we are going to cure 12 people (6*2) and with the remaining 6 euros in education we can educate 18 doctors (6*3). However, if we take into account this change in productivity and, instead of allocating 50 percent of resources to each sector, we give the same amount to doctors as we did in year A, i.e. 5 euros, then we are going to cure 10 people, while with the remaining 7 euros spent on education we can educate 21 (7*3) doctors. In that case, with 21 doctors we could cure 42 people in the following period.

Although this is an artificial and rather simplistic example, it does make a clear point. Relative productivity in economies changes over time. Private markets reallocate resources automatically via price mechanisms, but governments have to explicitly take into account these changes and then deliberately channel public revenues toward the more productive sectors, thus fostering growth. Also, as production increases (e.g. more cured people per doctor), governments will not have to raise public debt in order to finance public expenditures.

This is an illustration of how to increase production in an economy using existing resources and taking into account advances in technology and changes in productivity. But what are the potential problems of changing the policy mix and what are the related solutions? Why do governments not take on board changes in relative productivity when they allocate government spending?

First, in the absence of economic growth, the reallocation of resources generates winners and losers (i.e. through expenditure transfers from the less productive to the more productive sectors). This situation will certainly bring to the surface political obstacles, since the “unproductive” sector will have a clear incentive to resist change. However, this is a short-term problem. As the economy grows, those who lose out from the reforms can be partially compensated from the growth dividend generated by sounder allocation of resources.

Second, opportunistic politicians typically care more about their constituents than maximizing social welfare (e.g. certain professional groups are attached to certain political parties). Indeed, during the last few decades Greece has suffered much from political clientelism and rent-seeking activities. But the good news is that this problem can be resolved if governments allocate public revenues to the productive sectors in the first years of their electoral cycle so as to minimize political costs and/or compensate the unproductive sectors by the end of the political cycle.

Last, we have to note that none of those two problems is likely to arise if the economy is growing because, in that case, the government can intertemporally reallocate only the fraction of revenues that result from higher economic growth (e.g. in the above example, reallocate only the 2 units that come from better technologies).

To sum up, even in the worst-case scenario of no growth and short-run costs in the unproductive sectors, governments can enhance growth and increase overall income by reallocating existing revenues, thus creating aggregate benefits across all sectors of the economy. This new policy mix only requires changes in the composition of current spending, which means that it is tax-neutral and does not add to the accumulation of public debt. Even better, such a policy strategy does not downsize the public sector, which means that is ideologically neutral and therefore can be supported by all political parties irrespective of their ideological predilections. The newly elected Greek government has to grasp the opportunity to proceed with such measures as soon as possible before the next elections for the mutual benefits of all sectors.
1. The change in productivity has its origins in the demographic change we observe in the data. I use here as an example the technological change just for simplification.

2. For example, better technology can imply better laboratories for the education of doctors.

Dr Evangelos Dioikitopoulos is Assistant Professor of Economics at King’s College London.

Also contributed to this report:

Dr Christos Koutsampelas, a Researcher at the University of Cyprus.

 

source: ekathimerini.com, Evangelos Dioikitopoulos, 17.11.2015

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Russia in town for energy talks

The meetings that Russian Deputy Prime Minister and board chairman at Russian Railways Arkady Dvorkovich is scheduled to have in Athens on Friday with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Infrastructure Minister Christos Spirtzis and the chief of sell-off fund TAIPED, Stergios Pitsiorlas, are likely to shed light on Russia’s intentions regarding Greek privatizations.

Moscow’s main priority in the visit of the senior Russian government official is energy cooperation and the continued effort for the construction of the new Russian pipeline that would cross Turkey and Greece to Central Europe. However, the latter project appears to have lost momentum due to the deterioration in relations between Moscow and Ankara, the departure of Panayiotis Lafazanis from the Greek Energy Ministry and Washington’s strong resistance.

Discussions will also involve the possible participation of Russian Railways in the ongoing tenders for the privatization of Greek railway companies Trainose and Rosco.

In Trainose’s case in particular, for which the binding offers have a submission deadline of end-December, there will likely be an extension of a few months to satisfy the wish of both potential suitors. If Russian Railways does participate, it will also factor in its offer the developments in the tender for Thessaloniki Port Authority (OLTH), for which it is also a suitor. US firm Watco Companies also appears to be seeking more time.

source:ekathimerini.com, Ilias Bellos, 

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Paris Attacks: Greek PM Tsipras expresses condolences to President Holland

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed his condolences to French President Francois Hollande after the Paris ISIS attacks that resulted in at least 127 deaths and left hundreds injured.

“My sincere condolences to the families of the victims. I am here to express our support to the French people in these difficult time,” wrote the Greek PM according to Greek government sources.

Greece’s foreign monistry issued the following statement:

“United the Greek people are shocked by the deadly, cowardly terrorist attacks that took place earlier in Paris. These attacks are not just attacks against France, they are attacks against the whole civilized world, against democracy itself.

The Greek Government expresses its deepest condolences to the French Government and the friendly people of France. Greece will always be on his side. ”

At least 127 people were killed in the Paris and Saint-Denis shootings and bombings, when terrorists raided a concert hall, restaurants and bars and put bombs in two places near the Stad de France football field when France was playing a friendly match against Germany.

 

Source: greekreporter.com-By Anastasios Papapostolou – Nov 14, 2015

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Greece paralyzes as Tsipras government faces first general strike

Greece is paralyzed on Thursday as workers in the public and private sector are on strike protesting the harsh austerity measures imposed by the leftist Alexis Tsipras government.

This is the first general strike during the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition government that was re-elected in September. This is also the first big challenge of a government that was elected on a promise to ease the economic burden on crisis-stricken Greeks.

Public transportation will be very limited on Thursday as only buses and trolleys will run from 9 am until 9 pm. The Athens metro, urban and national railroads, and trams are not running, while dozens of domestic flights are cancelled. Ferries and cargo ships are tied up in port.

Schools, ministries, public offices, pharmacies and many stores are closed, along with museums and archaeological sites. Hospitals are receiving emergency cases only, while journalists have also walked off the job on television, radio and newspapers.

Two major demonstrations are planned by Greece’s two largest unions, GSEE for private sector employees and ADEDY for public sector employees. Thousands are expected to join the rallies. Strikers will rally in central Athens and march by parliament to protest against austerity.

SYRIZA’s labor department has called on all workers to strike and demonstrate against the harsh neoliberal policies. Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili denied suggestions that the leftist party was trying to play both sides in supporting the anti-austerity strike.

Tsipras has said that Athens will implement its side of the bargain with lenders, but has long maintained that the bailout terms are excessively harsh. “We are implementing an agreement which includes [bailout] measures which are unfair,” Gerovasili said.

Source: greekreporter.com, by Philip Chrysopoulos – Nov 12, 2015

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Greek industrial output rises 2.8 pct y/y in September

Greek industrial output rose 2.8 percent in September from the same period a year earlier, increasing for a second month in a row, statistics service ELSTAT said on Monday.

Manufacturing production grew 2.6 percent from the same month a year earlier, ELSTAT said. Mining output declined by 4.4 percent while electricity production rose by 6.3 percent.

The statistics service revised downwards August’s industrial production reading to 4.1 percent from 4.5 percent previously.

Greece’s economy grew 0.9 percent in the second quarter, helped by consumer spending and net exports.

Its performance supports a more favourable outlook for the year as a whole, with the European Commission now projecting a 1.4 percent contraction versus a previously expected 2.3 percent recession.

[Reuters]

source:ekathimerini.com

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SEV head warns Greece will be left without major enterprises

Greece is running the risk of being left without any major enterprises, exports or production, the president of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Theodoros Fessas, warned on Thursday.

The head of Greek industrialists stressed that investments in Greece have diminished by no less than 62 percent in the last seven years, with manufacturing and industrial activity paying the price of the economic recession.

“It is only with a wave of productive investments that we will stop burdening the real economy and labor with taxes on taxes and limp reforms that are to no one’s benefit in the end,” Fessas eloquently stated. The main aim, the SEV leader added, will have to be tax incentives primarily for financially beneficial investments, such as in the fields of innovation, export-oriented manufacturing activities and sevices.

The Association of Hellenic Tourism Enterprises (SETE) struck a similar note on Thursday, calling for a policy that will deal with issues such as stabilizing the tax framework, reducing bureaucracy and upgrading public infrastructures.

A survey by the SEV Observatory showed that its Business Activity Facilitation Index declined significantly this year from 2014 due to excessive taxation, high social security contributions and red tape. As the vice president of Aegean Airlines, Eftychios Vassilakis, said, the 1,000-euro bonus the airline gave to some of its employees cost Aegean 1,280 euros, while the workers received between 520 and 680 euros due to various taxes and deductions.

CHRYSSA LIAGGOU,06.11.2015, ekathimerini.com

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Council of State reportedly overrules Greek Energy Minister’s stoppage of Mining in Northern Greece

The Council of State (CoS), Greece ’s highest administrative court, on Monday abrogated a ministerial decision by former productive reconstruction, environment and energy minister Panos Skourletis to revoke the operating license of the Hellas Gold mining company in Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece, according to sources.

However, responding later to the report, the president of the CoS said the final decision has not been issued yet. “On the case of Hellas Gold … no decisions have been issued yet. The conference on these cases has not been completed. Any other report does not reflect reality,” Nikolaos Sakellariou said in a statement.

Revocation of the gold mining license was based on the fact that the company did not conduct tests on deposits from the Olympiada and Skouries sites on its premises, but rather at a facility in Finland. The CoS ruled that this was not justification enough for revoking the license. The publication of the ruling is pending. The ministerial decision was announced in September.

Hellas Gold is a subsidiary of Canadian multinational Eldorado Gold.
(Source: ANA-MPA)

By Anastassios Adamopoulos – Nov 3, 2015, greekreporter.com

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The starategic significance of mineral wealth

Our country unfortunately has been found in the throes of an extremely profound and multifaceted crisis due to the fact that a so-called “developmental model” was followed during previous decades. Therefore no progress can be linked to a return to the past and no rational policy, regardless of any ideological background, could aim at setbacks.

There is only one way to move forward –in accordance to the common political slogan of the two major parties, Syriza and Nea Dimokratia. By creating opportunities for the people, and not privileges for the few. And at the same time create the opportunities that will guarantee the reliability of the country abroad, strengthening our position in the EU and the ability to upgrade the geopolitical role of the country. Because these features provide increased national power to the country and this is to the benefit of the society and its citizens.

With this goal in mind, we should mobilize all our forces in a clear manner and our mineral wealth should be prioritized. Hence it is surprising that a country so rich in minerals is casually sitting on all this wealth, while it is cutting back on the pensions of the elderly and does not have any money for teachers in schools … No logical argument can stand before the need to do the obvious moves at the right moment.

However, the obvious moves are still pending. Uncritical generalizations of cheap “environmentalism” demonize our national wealth. So someone needs to explain to the 140 mining engineers coming out of the University and the 300 graduates of our Geological Schools that their studies are in vain and that their future holds unemployment as long as we interpret our mineral wealth as mineral … misery! Even in areas such as Halkidiki, which owes its name to copper (“halkos”) and is a place where people lived and prospered from mining activities over the centuries. And all those who are busy “demonizing” should take a walk in Sidirokafsia and Mademohoria and see for themselves.

In the end, the numbers speak for themselves. The investment of Hellas Gold in Halkidiki alone, brought upon the economy and society the following positive effects:

  1. For the national economy
  • A one billion-dollar investment in a period of absolute lack of foreign direct investments in Greece
  • 650 million dollars have already been invested in two years
  • The Greek government is due to receive 1.6 billion dollars in the form of direct taxes

over the next two decades

  • From 2012 until today 50 million dollars have been attributed to insurance funds
  • The country’s exports will increase by 700 million Euros per year with the start of the production phase of the investment
  1. For the local economy
  • Two thousand (2,000) jobs, 80% of which refer to the municipality of Aristotle
  • A 45,000 Euro average annual income for each employee that supports the local market
  • 83 million Euros directly to the local economy through procurement, purchasing, etc. during the period 2006-2014
  • Strengthening of the Municipality of Aristotle with 3 million Euros per year from the Corporate Social Responsibility Program that will reach 8 million Euros per year at the production phase of the investment

Our mineral wealth is a strategic pillar for growth and Macedonia-Thrace can become the “growth jet” that will elevate the national economy. We should all consider, based on the above hard facts, what could the growth potential of our country be if the exploitation of our mineral resources related to the 10% of the GDP and not to the…2%, where it stands today. Let’s think about it and make decisions accordingly.

[SOURCE: KEFALAIO-NEWSPAPER, by Michalis Theodorakopoulos, Managing Director of Hellas Gold, 30/10/2015]

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Energy Conference in Athens on its role in economic recovery

The important role played by the energy sector in developing the Greek economy will be the main focus of the 20th “Energy and Development” conference which will be held in Athens on November 11-12.

The conference, which is organized by the Institute of Energy for South-East Europe (IENE) at the Eugenides Foundation, will be attended by senior executives, scientists, engineers and energy professionals from all the major Greek energy-related companies and also by policy-makers.

(Source: ANA-MPA)

By Ioanna Zikakou – Oct 22, 2015, greekreporter.com

 

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Greek Unemployment Rates are the highest in the EU

Eurostat figures released on Friday place Greece at the top of the unemployment table within the Eurozone as well as the European Union.

Greece’s figures, which take into account data available until the month of July, show a 25% seasonally adjusted unemployment rate, which translates to 1,197,000 people without a job. Spain, with an unemployment rate of 21.1% in September, is the only other EU country with more than a fifth of its population unemployed. Cyprus had the EU’s third highest unemployment rate with 15.1% in September.

The Eurozone‘s average unemployment rate is still higher than the European Union’s average unemployment rate. By September 2015 the unemployment rate for the monetary union was 10.8% while the EU had a 9.3% average unemployment rate.

Young people in Greece are also faced with the highest jobless rates. 48.6% of people between the ages of 15 and 25 who have been looking for a job within the past four weeks prior to July’s report, did not have one. That amounts to 139,000 people. Spain is a close second with an under-25 unemployment rate of 47.7%. The Eurozone’s average youth unemployment was 22.1% for September 2015 while the EU’s was 20.1% for the same month.

The figures also reveal a significant disparity between unemployment in eligible females and males in Greece. While 21.5% of eligible males were registered as not having a job, 29.4% of eligible females were unemployed in July. The gap in Greece does not reflect the extent of either the Eurozone’s or the EU’s gap, as there is a 0.2% higher unemployment rate for females in countries in the Eurozone and a 0.1% higher rate for females in countries in the EU.

source:greece.greekreporter.com,  Anastassios Adamopoulos – Oct 30, 2015

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SEV calls for Halkidiki mine talks

The president of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), Theodoros Fessas, has launched an initiative to save Eldorado Gold’s investment in the Halkidiki gold mines, as part of the federation’s campaign to attract and support investments in the industrial sector.

On Monday the management of Eldorado Gold visited SEV’s headquarters upon Fessas’s invitation, providing information about its investment plans in northern Greece, as well as the situation at the Halkidiki gold mines following successive interventions by former environment minister Panayiotis Lafazanis and the current holder of the post, Panos Skourletis, and rulings by the Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court.

The chief executive of Eldorado Gold, Paul Wright, informed SEV about the 1-billion-euro investment in Halkidiki, noting that the firm’s shareholders include a number of major fund management companies, such as BlackRock and Fidelity, that could attract more foreign direct investment to Greece if they saw the investment climate improving.

Fessas called for an open dialogue involving all sides at the Halkidiki gold mines “so as not to put one of the very few large-scale foreign investments today in Greece at risk.”

source: ekathimerini.com, 26/10/2015

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France’s Hollande vows to stand by Greece in reform drive

In a landmark speech in Parliament on Friday, French President Francois Hollande vowed that France would stand by Greece as it seeks to implement reforms and urged authorities to stay the course in order to pave the way for talks on debt relief.

Addressing a packed House under tight security, Hollande repeatedly praised Greek authorities, and MPs, for passing a tough bailout into law and taking a “brave decision” to stay in the eurozone.

But, as talks continued between government officials and envoys representing the country’s international creditors, Hollande also emphasized the need for Greece to honor its commitments.

“I know the reforms are very demanding, I know they are hard,” he said, referring in particular to actions demanded by lenders regarding Greece’s tax administration, pension system and the modernization of state mechanisms. “But all these are necessary for Greece’s future,” he said.

Echoing the creditors’ stance on debt, he said that talks on relief could begin once all commitments have been met.

“We support Greece,” he said, noting that the country has suffered “an unprecedented crisis” over the past six years.

“What I am expressing is not empathy, it is support for a strong cooperation,” he said, adding that France is “a great friend of Greece.”

Hollande indicated that Greece should be cut some slack in some areas, notably proposing more discussion on the thorny issue regarding the threshold for foreclosures involving primary residences.

In a joint press conference with Hollande before the French leader’s speech in Parliament, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras also broached the issue of foreclosures, using much stronger language.

“Turning Greece into an arena for foreclosures is unacceptable,” Tsipras said, and hit out at “absurd and extreme neo-liberal interventions” that, he said, threatened to undermine Greece’s program.

Tsipras said Greece would meet its commitments and respects European rules but demanded respect. “We are not convicts serving a sentence, we are equal partners,” he said.

Both leaders referred to the night of July 12, when Tsipras eventually signed a compromise with his European peers. Tsipras acknowledged that Hollande was “among those” who persuaded him to accept the deal. “That night was about our common existence in the euro,” Hollande said.

The French president also addressed the refugee crisis, stressing the importance of supporting Greece financially but also with equipment and additional border guards through the European Union agency Frontex.

During their talks at the Maximos Mansion, Hollande pledged to serve as a bridge between Greece and its creditors so that pending issues can be resolved, sources said.

The two leaders also signed a strategic partnership agreement, foreseeing France supplying know-how for public administration and cracking down on tax evasion. Cooperation in various business sectors was also discussed.

Source: ekathimerini.com

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Energy issues remain open in the negotiations with the institutions, said gov’t source

Issues regarding the energy sector remain open in the government negotiations with the institutions, said a government source.
On the Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE), it has initially been agreed that there is no issue of privatisation , but there is no agreement on the government’s proposal for an equivalent result regarding competitiveness in the energy market.

Issues on tenders of Public Power Corporation’s lignite and hydroelectric energy remain open.

The same source said that the delay is due to the fact that the institutions have not responded yet to the government’s proposals.

22-10-2015 – 14:49

gazzetta.gr

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Greek Energy Minister asks for further compensation over TAP and IBG pipelines

Accelerating procedures for implementation of the TAP and IGB natural gas pipeline projects was the topic of discussions during a meeting on Wednesday between Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis with Amos Hochstein, US special envoy and coordinator for international energy relations with Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova.

During the meeting, Skourletis proposed improving the terms of TAP through Greece both for the state and local societies, while regarding the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline project IGB a new meeting at ministerial level, will be held next week in Sofia. The Greek side raised compensation issues for forest areas and state property and more action by the consortium in the field of corporate social responsibility.

Amos Hochstein said there was significant progress regarding the Greek-Bulgarian pipeline and urged the Greek government and TAP to openly discuss pending issues and to find solutions the soonest possible. “The US wants to continue working with Greece for the country’s energy security but mostly on the role to be played by Greece as a strategic partner in the region.”

By Anastassios Adamopoulos – Oct 14, 2015, greece.greekreporter.com

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Eldorado Gold’s CEO: “The injunction relief granted by the Council of State once again demonstrates the integrity and legality of our permits in Halkidiki, Northern Greece”

VANCOUVER, Oct. 5, 2015 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that Greece’s Council of State – the country’s Supreme Court on administrative and environmental matters – has issued an injunction relief #299/2015 in favour of the Labour Center of Halkidiki and the Labour Unions representing the workers of Hellas Gold S.A. – a subsidiary of Eldorado in Greece. The injunction relief temporarily revokes the decisions of Greece’s Ministry of Energy and Environment, which forced Hellas Gold to suspend its activities in Halkidiki in August (as described in Eldorado’s press releases dated August 19 and August 20, 2015). The Council of State, following a hearing held before its plenary session on October 2nd, is expected to issue its final ruling regarding the decisions of the Ministry of Energy at some point in the near future. However, until the final ruling is issued the injunction relief granted by the Council of State stands. Paul N. Wright, Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado, commented, “The injunction relief granted by the Council of State once again demonstrates the integrity and legality of our permits in Halkidiki, Northern Greece. We will resume our mining and construction activities in Halkidiki and bring our employees and contractors back to work, effective immediately. Furthermore, we will continue to engage in constructive dialogue with the Ministry of Energy with a view to addressing any concerns the Ministry might have. Mining can make an important contribution to the economic recovery of Greece and we wish to work together with the Ministry of Energy in order to generate job opportunities for the Greek people, pay taxes to the Greek Government, and support economic growth through best available environmental, engineering, health, safety, and community engagement practices. This approach, which Eldorado has successfully adopted over the last two decades in various other jurisdictions, will benefit all stakeholders.”

Source: www.eldoradogold.com

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“Winner” and “Gold” Health and Safety Awards for Hellas Gold

Hellas Gold received the highest distinction for its policy and practice in the field of Health and Safety, accepting the awards “Winner” and “Gold” from the institution Health and Safety Awards, during the award ceremony that took place in Athens, Tuesday, September 29, 2015, in the presence of the Minister of Labour, Social Security and Welfare, Katrougalos Giorgos.

This award rewarded the policies and philosophy of Hellas Gold in the Department of Health and Safety, and certified its compliance with the higher and stricter standards giving Hellas Gold the lead in the health and safety sector in the field of mining industries and the gold medal in the field of readiness and emergency management.

A policy which in practice consists of the continuous modernization of the existing infrastructures, the effective prevention of accidents with continuous monitoring and assessment of risks and the corresponding appropriate measures and constant information, education, understanding, activation and effective participation of all workers in health and safety issues at work.

“For us, Health and Safety is not just a commitment, but a way of life, and it translates into a whole range of practices but also in our daily lives in the Cassandra Mines. And this was conquered through timeless collaborative effort”, says the Head of the integrated Health Department of Hellas Gold, Vassilis Vassiliadis who contributed in drafting one of the most modernized health departments in Greece, staffed with medical and nursing staff, modernized equipment and infrastructure, with clinics and ambulances in all the facilities, and comprehensive action at the prevention and control level, as well as health benefits to employees.

The Winner and Gold Health and safety awards, follow a series of distinctions that certify the environmental, occupational and social responsibility and consistency, but also the respect of stricter standards across the spectrum of activities of Hellas Gold:

  • CRI “Bronze Award” by the “Institute of Corporate Responsibility” for the social contribution of Hellas Gold and “Praise for Corporate Social Responsibility” by the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece, as part of the awards “Greek Value”.
  • “ISO 14001” for the Environmental Management System of Hellas Gold
  • “OISAS 18001: 2007” for the health and safety management system at work

You can find more information on the following linkwww.hsawards.gr

 

Source: hellas-gold.com

 

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Greek State Council suspends Skourletis’ decision to close Skouries Mine

The Council of State temporarily suspended the decision of Greek former Productive Reconstruction Minister Panos Skourletis (August 19, 2015), which recalled the decision that approved the engineering design of the mining facilities in Skouries, as submitted by Hellas Gold, claiming that the design violated the technical studies’ terms.

In particular, the Council of State Suspensions Department ordered the suspension Skourletis decision, until the issuing of a final decision regarding the main action which was discussed today in the Council of State plenary.

The council member weighed the harm that the mine workers claim to have experienced and the public interest invoked by the Greek government and eventually decided on the decision’s suspension.

By Ioanna Zikakou – Oct 2, 2015-greekreporter.com

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Science comes before politics

It is high time for scientific voices to claim the space and attention that they deserve. To say the truth loud and clear. To explain the findings of the mineral deposit research, the importance of the productive exploitation of mineral wealth, the operational presence of the mines, the rational management and control of the environmental impact and the added developmental value and sustainability that emerges for Greece.

For citizens to find out what is really going on. To convey to the Greek people the scientific truth through objective information and documented proposals. To regain the lost trust of the citizens and become once again a key point of reference for reliable and authentic information. And maybe these voices will manage at some point to raise awareness and attract the attention of the “hard of hearing” politicians and in general of those in power.

The strategic planning of the utilization of mineral resources and mineral policy can only be dealt with by scientists. Because at the same time that politicians talk about destruction and lives at risk science offers knowledge, technology and quality of life. Because when politicians create unemployment, science creates job opportunities. Because when politicians lead us to social impasses science offers perspective. Because when politicians talk about problems scientists find solutions. After all science leads, guides and must always and largely determine the content of the politics.

So one chooses to revisit on a regular basis the issue of the productive exploitation of the mineral wealth as a credible and viable lifeline for the developmental prospects of the country. Aiming primarily for the citizens to have more comprehensive information and insight into the real data, as well as hoping that the politicians will finally understand what is going on.

It is a fact that Greece has significant growth potential and productive exploitation opportunities with the mineral raw materials available. A typical example are the areas of geological interest in Macedonia and Thrace, where apart from the financial dimension, their strategic national position is also readily understandable. The wealth potential is a given and their industrial exploitation is the only developmental orientation.

Citizens only have to approach the true data with a calm and clear gaze and see the true potential with an open mind. To turn their backs and close their ears to those who methodically cultivate the fear of mines and mineral deposits, and introduce a series of unacceptable conceptual and social divisions. Those who prefer unemployment to work potentials.

Because of course productive mines, collective progress and the common good are strongly against any anti-mining propaganda and effort for developmental depreciation.

SOURCE:  http://greenminerals.blogspot.com- 27 /09/2015, by Dr. of Geology Nikolaos Arvanitidis

 

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CEO: Eldorado Gold aims to resolve mining issues with Greek Government

The chief executive of Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD; NYSE: EGO) said the company wants to build a better relationship with the government of Greece to resolve issues over plans to mine gold in the country, rather than just relying on the courts.

The country’s leftist government last month said it was revoking a permit for technical studies for a $1 billion project, alleging that Eldorado violated contractual terms over technical studies. Eldorado’s Greek subsidiary, Hellas Gold S.A., suspended operations during a legal challenge. The suspension affected the Stratoni Mine as well as the Skouries and Olympias projects.

“I am quietly optimistic that we will get there with the government. But if we don’t, then we’re going to have to take alternative action,” said Paul Wright, chief executive officer of Eldorado, during an appearance at the Denver Gold Forum Tuesday.

If the differences cannot be resolved, the company cannot continue investing in the country, he suggested.

“Our expectation is we will again prevail, as we have done now on 13 separate occasions in rulings by the Council of State,” Wright said. “However, our challenge in Greece is to get to a much better place as it relates to the relationship with a government of the country that is truly collaborative and recognizes the value of this investment to the country. We look forward to further engagement when the new government is formed in the next couple of days.”

The party of Alexis Tsipras, who was prime minister, was re-elected over the weekend.

The company is developing the Skouries and Olympicas projects. Eldorado has spent $450 million on the projects since 2012 and has over 2,000 direct employees. Eldorado estimates that it would pay $1 billion in direct taxes to the Greek government in the next 20 years.

Eldorado is seeking injunctive relief, which the court deferred until after the election. A decision could come as early as this week, Wright said. Meanwhile, a court hearing on the main issue – the government’s decision to recall Eldorado’s permit — is set for Oct. 2.

Wright was asked if Eldorado would resume work right away if it prevails in the court system.

“Our approach to this will be to put people back to work if we are legally entitled to,” Wright answered. “But I just want to emphasize for us, it’s not about the legality. It is about the model of not having a supportive government that just doesn’t work for us.”

He pointed out that the mining issue was the No. 3 topic of debate going into the Greek elections, with many candidates expressing support for mining investment in the country.

http://www.kitco.com/-By Allen Sykora of Kitco News; asykora@kitco.com

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Greek Industry Body urges new government to push ahead with reforms

Reforms, a new industrial policy and a plan to fight corruption and tax evasion are the three main requests of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) for the new government.

“The result of the elections reflects the will of the overwhelming majority of Greeks to remain in the Eurozone, abolishing in practice the division between ‘pro-‘ and ‘anti-bailout’ forces,” SEV said in a statement on Monday, commenting on Sunday’s elections.

“The new government has a clear mandate to push ahead in the framework of the commitments made to Europe and Greek citizens. We hope the national need for growth will serve as a guide both in the selection of the people, as in the implementation of effective policies,” it added.
The body also cited three main objectives for the economic policy of the new government: The effective and timely implementation of the reform program, the planning of a new industrial policy for the revival of manufacturing in our country and the fight against corruption and tax evasion by electronic means to dramatically improve public revenues.
(Source: ANA-MPA)

By Ioanna Zikakou – Sep 22, 2015/greece.greekreporter.com

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Hellas Gold ‘ready for dialogue’ on Halkidiki investments

Hellas Gold was “ready for dialogue” if the government elected on September 20 seeks to renegotiate the gold mining investments in Halkidiki, Vice-President and CEO Mihalis Theodorakopoulos said on Wednesday in an interview with the ANA-MPA radio station “Praktorio 104.9”.

“The original contract asked for nothing, we have offered much to the municipality, the local community and the public sector but we are open and ready for dialogue,” he said.

According to Theodorakopoulos, the environmental impact studies carried out by Hellas Gold had been irrevocably approved by the Council of State, Greece’s supreme administrative court, and the environmental issues were now “closed”. The issues that currently concerned the Halkidiki investment were “various minor obstacles that could be raised by any official on a local or central level,” he added.

He described the dispute as a “guerrilla war that has to end” and clarified that the problem was not confined to SYRIZA: “For 10 years we have been trying to licence the project and SYRIZA was not in government.”

“SYRIZA and New Democracy can exploit the issue of the mines however they like, we don’t care if they put us on the political agenda and we don’t want to be mixed up in the political atmosphere of the time,” Theodorakopoulos added, noting that Greek engineers wanted this investment to go ahead.

“Our vision of all these years is starting to be implemented and we will not hand this over to anyone, either in a positive or a negative sense,” he said.

Theodorakopoulos revealed that a meeting was held between company representatives and ministry officials immediately after Tuesday’s CoS hearing, which postponed a ruling on the issues until after the elections.

“We made it clear that the political game has nothing to do with us,” he noted, and pointed out that the cost of employing the 100-150 employees of the mines was roughly five million euros a month. He said these had not been suspended and were currently employed chiefly on environmental protection issues, pumping water and the safety of the installations, as the mine was continuing to operate and there had to be continuous pumping of water and processing of acidic waters.

17 Sep 2015-greece2day.com

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Greece’s year of tumult enters new chapter as Tsipras dominates

Greek voters had the choice to reject the man who led their country closer than ever to being forced out of Europe’s single currency. Instead, they embraced him.

Alexis Tsipras and his Coalition of the Radical Left, or SYRIZA, emerged from a second election in eight months with a level of support barely diminished from the emphatic victory that catapulted him both into power and a standoff with the euro region. SYRIZA, which took 35.5 percent of the vote compared with 28.1 percent for the center-right New Democracy, will enter a coalition with the same small party that helped it rule before.

While the victory tightens Tsipras’s hold over Greek politics, it also exposes the paradoxes of a country whose economy is a shadow of its former self and where controls remain on bank withdrawals. After coming to power pledging to end austerity and restore “dignity,” Tsipras now must implement the further sharp spending cuts and tax increases he ended up agreeing to in exchange for 86 billion euros ($97 billion) of fresh European aid.

The electorate has voted to return to power a party that “ditched its promises, switched its policies, and caused the collapse of Greek banks, bringing in an unneeded recession,” said Stathis Kalyvas, a professor of political science at Yale University. On the other hand, “this government will be called to implement a stringent set of fiscal and structural reforms that it vigorously rejected before,” he said.

Hot summer

Greeks this summer faced some of the most harrowing moments of their six-year financial crisis as Tsipras, a former Communist Party activist, entered a game of chicken with other European leaders over their criteria for granting the new bailout, the country’s third since 2010.

Banks were closed, commerce ground to a halt, and European officials began to talk openly of Greece exiting the euro. The crisis was only resolved when Tsipras caved in to creditor demands, agreeing to a package of requirements arguably even more onerous than the one Greek voters rejected in a referendum less than two weeks earlier.

As a result of that deal, Tsipras’s power over matters of taxation, spending, and regulation will be minimal in his second stint at Maximos, the official Athens residence of the Greek prime minister. Virtually all key economic decisions have effectively been made by European finance ministers and central bankers, and any deviation risks a halt to aid payments.

“The space for brinkmanship or renegotiating the agreement is close to zero,” said Brunello Rosa, an analyst at Roubini Global Economics. An initial review by creditors of the country’s progress in implementing the program is due before the end of the year, with another in spring 2016.

Lower turnout

Beyond voter apathy, Tsipras paid almost no political price for his about-face on austerity. Turnout on Sunday at 56 percent was the lowest since at least the 1990s, and the election failed to engender the same flag-waving and car horn-honking as the other votes this year. A small crowd watched an outdoor TV screen in the central Syntagma Square in Athens on Sunday night, normally the scene of raucous celebrations.

Zoe Makrigianni, a 20-year-old student in Athens, showed up with other SYRIZA supporters to celebrate the win at a smaller square nearby.

“I expected a victory, but not by such a big margin,” Makrigianni said as she hugged friends. “We have a rescue program and we have to implement it. The question was who would do it most fairly.”

SYRIZA’s share of the ballots was about one percentage point less than what it received in January. Popular Unity, a splinter group of left-wing Syriza lawmakers who abandoned the party over the bailout deal, fell short of the 3 percent threshold to enter parliament. Those defections in August cost SYRIZA its governing majority, forcing the election.

Markets man

At the same time, the departures helped turn Tsipras into a more palatable figure for financial markets. Greek government bonds posted the biggest returns in the euro area over the past month and the country’s stock market has also rallied.

While SYRIZA’s electoral performance was better than pollsters expected, the party still fell just short of a majority of seats in the 300-member parliament. It plans to enter another coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks party, which received 3.7 percent of the vote and 10 seats.

With an expected majority of just five seats in parliament, down from a dozen, the Syriza coalition will have little room for error.

Doing deals

If Tsipras can finally also win over European leaders and the International Monetary Fund, he may be able to strengthen the country’s financial position. SyYRIZA has long called for a writedown of Greece’s 300 billion euros of government debt, while creditors have held out the prospect only of easier repayment terms.

Such progress would go over well with hard-up Greeks, whose economy has shrunk by a quarter since 2009.

The country’s voters have shown “they want the Tsipras that makes deals with creditors,” said Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “They still trust Tsipras, after everything.”

[Bloomberg]

NIKOS CHRYSOLORAS, MATTHEW CAMPBELL & JONATHAN STEARNS/ ekathimerini.com

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Hellenic Gold awaits decision on mine appeal

The Council of State is due to decide after the elections on whether to suspend a decision by previous energy minister Panos Skourletis that led to work at the Skouries gold mine stopping.

Hellenic Gold, the company that runs the mine, as well as four unions representing the miners, have appealed against the recent decision by Skourletis to suspend the firm’s technical study, which led to work grinding to a halt.

The government suspended the studies after the company carried out the smelting process tests in Finland. The Energy Ministry said they should have been done at the mine in Halkidiki.

The court has decided to hear the appeal against the decision on October 2.

ekathimerini.com-NEWS 15.09.2015

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Five industry captains call for new policies

The heads of five of the country’s largest industry and manufacturing associations joined in calling for a new industrial policy to return Greece to normality, in a joint article to the ANA-MPA on Sunday.

The article is signed by Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) President Theodoros Fessas, Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (FING) head Athanassios Savvakis, the Association of Industries in Thessaly and Central Greece (AITCG) President Evripidis Dontas, The Attica-Piraeus Industry Association President Dimitris Mathios and Peloponnese Federation of Industries head Kleomeni Barlou. In it, they outline a common position and the main thrust of a new policy proposed by industry at “the most crucial juncture of the crisis, when our country is faced with two simultaneous and critical challenges.

“On the one hand, the need to urgently implement all the structural reforms and fiscal adjustments of the agreement with the creditors. Secondly, to plan and implement policies that will work as a developmental counterweight, making use of the many opportunities that exist, and restricting the new cycle of recession that lies ahead of us, thus avoiding structural unemployment.”
(source: ana-mpa)

By A. Makris –
Sep 14, 2015/ greekreporter.com

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Athens to host oil and gas conference

This month Athens will be hosting the biggest international oil and gas exhibition and conference in the Black Sea and Mediterranean region for the first time.

Executives and senior government officials from 11 countries, 31 eminent international speakers and 25 distinguished exhibitors will be participating in the 3rd Global Oil & Gas Black Sea and Mediterranean Exhibition and Conference to be held in Athens on September 23-24, at the Metropolitan Expo center, next to the Athens International Airport.

source: ekathimerini-BUSINESS 11.09.2015 : 21:05

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Chalkidiki Miners set up camp outside the Productive Reconstaruction Ministry

About 40 workers from the Chalkidiki mines set up camp outside the Productive Reconstruction Ministry in Mesogeion, requesting the minister to take the necessary steps so they will  return to their jobs as soon as possible.
A Committee of four workers met with the official Minister of Productive Reconstruction, John Golia, and the Deputy Minister, K. Mousourouli.
According to them, a focal point of developments in the case of ressuming the mining activities of “Hellas Gold” is the trial of the new appeal to the State Council, submitted by the company and the workers, seeking annulment of the decision of the former Minister Panos Skourletis. This was also pointed out by the administrative leadership of YPAPEN.
Until then the employees declare their intention to remain outside the ministry, pending the hearing procedure at the Suspension Committee of the Council of State, set for the morning (09.30) Tuesday, September 15. The actual trial of the applications for annulment has been set for October 2.
It should be also noted that the case of the mines has issued a series of decisions the Council of State, in confirming the validity of the total investment as a single, undivided project.

Source: http://www.naftemporiki.gr

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“Hands off the mines”

“Fight for work ‘and’ Fight for Growth” were some of the banners of the miners in this year’s mobilization of workers in Thessaloniki under the 80th TIF.

The thousands of miners participated in the rally of GSEE and the EKTH and asked for support in their struggle.

The President of EKTH said: “Our society cannot withstand not even one dismissal” and therefore issued a call for an immediate solution to the issue of the Chalkidiki Mines’ employees.

According to the Cassandra Mines  Steering Committee  4,000 miners were involved, with the slogan “Hands off the Mines”.

According to ANA-MPA, the workers in the mines of Chalkidiki held a few minutes sit-in protest in front of the White Tower.

Source: http://www.newsbeast.gr

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Chalkidiki gold mines the focus of caretaker ministers’ meetings in Thessaloniki

Caretaker Minister for Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Ioannis Golias and Alternate Minister Constantinos Mousouroulis had a meeting with the Mines Inspectorate of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki on Friday, focusing mainly on the gold mines in Chalkidiki.

The ministers were briefed on the inspectorate’s remit and views concerning the Kassandra gold mines, as well as issues relating to mining and quarrying in northern Greece, as well as its organisational issues.

The two ministers then attended a broad meeting chaired by caretaker Prime Minister Vassiliki Thanou at the Macedonia-Thrace ministry.
Source http://www.gazzetta.gr/, 4-9-2015

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Potami’s leader mr.Theodorakis says CoS rulings for Skouries gold mine must be respected

The head of the Potami party Stavros Theodorakis stressed that Greek authorities have an obligation to respect Council of State rulings concerning the gold mine at Skouries, asking the caretaker Productive Reconstruction Minister Ioannis Golias to intervene to uphold the law during a meeting on Thursday.

Theodorakis stressed that the request was “self-evident” in a European country and that the right to work must be combined with protection of the environment based on the judgement of state organs, not party committees.He criticised the initiative taken by the previous minister Panos Skourletis to close down the mines a few days before the elections, saying the action targeted Skourletis’ predecessor at the ministry, Popular Unity party leader Panagiotis Lafazanis.

Meanwhile, in addition to Drasi, a collection of former PASOK members that left the party to form the movement “Brosta” on Thursday announced their decision to join Potami’s ranks.

 

3-9-2015, http://www.gazzetta.gr/

 

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Squats in all the mines of Chalkidiki by the miners

Squats took place yesterday in all the Mines of Chalkidiki by workers in support of their fellow workers who remain for the 8th consecutive day in the galleries of Olympias. The escalating mobilizations began early afternoon yesterday, after Hellas Gold was given an order of inspection of the mines for complete removal of workers from their workplaces, following the decision of the former Minister of Productive Reconstruction P. Skourletis. The access and safety aspects of the construction site, as highlighted in a joint announcement of the three trade unions of the mines, has been undertaken by the team guarding the workers while the company’s security department has been asked to limit its activity to preserving the assets of the company. We urge everyone to join us in the difficult and just struggle of our fellow workers who remain in the underground galleries, the statement said.

In the meantime, the former Minister of Productive Reconstruction asked the current Minister Ioannis Golias to immediately implement the decision of the Council of State and revoke the decision of Skourletis, on the occasion of the visit of the President of PASOK Fofi Genimmata at the mines. “No one can be above the law and the country’s supreme courts. Legitimacy must be implemented here and now, without further delay triggering unnecessary social tensions in the region and discrediting worldwide the country at a time when the number one challenge for the Greek economy is to attract investments to utilise comparative advantages and produce new national wealth”, says Mr. Maniatis to the letter he sent on behalf of PASOK.

KATHIMERINI, 01/09/2015

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Hellas Gold takes action against ex-minister Skourletis

Hellas Gold and four unions representing workers at the Halkidiki mines it manages on behalf of Canadian giant Eldorado took legal action on Friday against the recent ministerial decision that led to the suspension of work at the sites.

Hellas Gold argues in the complaint filed at the Council of State that the decision taken on August 19 by then energy minister Panos Skourletis (photo) to suspend the technical study for the mines’ processing plant went against the Greek Constitution.

The company says the Greek government’s decision to put the project on ice violated the principles of good administration and the separation of the judicial and executive powers.

The firm and the unions, which represent some 2,000 miners, argue that Skourletis’s decision should be suspended, allowing work at the Skouries and Olympiada sites to continue.

BUSINESS 28.08.2015 , http://www.ekathimerini.com

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Hydrocarbon tenders losing steam as political uncertainty escalates

The drive for the utilization of domestic hydrocarbons has been dropped from the political agenda following the announcement of early elections, despite pressure from the Greek Hydrocarbon Management Company (EDEYA).

The tender for 20 plots in the Ionian Sea and Crete – despite current low petrol prices – managed to attract bids for three plots and interest from a large multinational, rumored to be France’s Total. The company, together with Hellenic Petroleum (ELPE), submitted two bids for two different sites, while ELPE is bidding independently on another. The three bids were submitted on July 14 but the process was not activated.

To have done so, former energy minister Panos Skourletis – who succeeded Panayiotis Lafazanis on July 20 – should have either established a special commission or launched proceedings in EDEYA, established for the recovery of domestic hydrocarbons.

The process, moreover, is not expected to pick up any time soon as the country heads to new elections.
CHRYSSA LIAGGOU 30.08.2015 – http://www.ekathimerini.com/

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Greek Council of State cancels Govt recall of Hellas Gold Mining Study Permit

The controversy over mining projects in northern Greece continues as the Greek Council of State cancelled the Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Ministry’s decision to recall the permits for Hellas Gold‘s technical mining studies in northern Greece.

The country’s supreme court argued that the recall of the permit is baseless.

On August 19, Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis had announced the recall of Hellas Gold’s technical study as well as the reconsideration of the company’s permit.

However, on August 14, the Council of State had ruled that Hellas Gold’s operations and plans should proceed after the company had sought legal approval in response to the Greek government’s intention to recall the company’s permits back in April.

The Council of State’s announcement on Thursday stirred the response of the Greek Ministry.

“The decision of the Council of State neither concerns nor cancels the decision of the Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Ministry over the recall of the decision to permit technical studies in Skouries and partly in Olympias,” the Ministry’s announcement said and further noted that it concerns the previous action taken by the former Energy Minister back in April.

By Anastassios Adamopoulos – Aug 27, 2015/ greekreporter.com

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Vindication for Hellas Gold

The decision of the Council of State on the legality of the Hellas Gold investment was a slap in the face for the former Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment and Energy (YPAPEN), Panos Skourletis. This is the 10th in succession vindication decision for Hellas Gold from the Council of State on various issues relating to the legality of the investment and environmental protection, which raises questions about the handling of foreign investments in our country. Hellas Gold had appealed at the Council of State in April against the YPAPEN for the omission of legal actions and specifically the statutory obligation to adopt within 60 days of their submission, the submission of technical studies of gold mining, copper and the new enrichment plant in Madem Lakkos. The YPAPEN argued that the appendices had shortcomings and thus revoked the technical studies. One of the shortcomings cited by the YPAPEN was that the company did not carry out the test program in a semi-industrial plant in the area of the project, but in a research center in Fori, Finland, which was also the basis of the recent decision of Mr. Skourletis that caused the cessation of work in the mines and the suspension of 2,000 workers.

The Council of State emphasizes in its decision that the allegations of the YPAPEN are rejected and unfounded, and also determines that the non adoption of the Addendum filed by the company was based primarily on inadequate reasoning and concludes that the contested act should be annulled in its entirety and the case should be remitted to the management for new legal judgement. It also notes that file return for technical studies is only allowed under the Article 102 KMLE for reasons of inadequacy or inaccuracy of the data submitted. The decision of the Council of State, although not directly related to the recent decision of Mr. Skourletis, invalidates the legal basis on which it is based and anticipates its future cancellation given that it is the next administrative act that will be appealed at the Council of State by Hellas Gold.

Although he was vulnerable after the decision, Mr. Skourletis preferred to ignore it. Yesterday the YPAPEN stressed in its announcement that “the decision cancels the act of the former minister, dated 28.4.2015 on the grounds of inadequate reasoning. The YPAPEN is unwilling and unable to make judgments or comments on the content of judicial decisions. It states, however, in every direction that it will exhaust the limits of its institutional responsibilities and any means provided by the law for absolute and uncompromising protection of the environment and to fully safeguard the public interest“, the announcement concludes.

Hellas Gold requests the alignment of the YPAPEN and the competent minister with the decision of justice via an announcement published on the occasion of the decision of the Council of the State. “Today’s no. 3191 2015 Decision of the Council of State (regarding the metallurgical copper, gold and sulfuric acid unit of Madem Lakkos) constitutes a vindication of Hellas Gold and proves beyond doubt that it’s operation is based on the legality and fulfillment of all its contractual obligations. It is now clear that if there are responsibilities for shortcomings they should be seeked elsewhere … Now it is time for the YPAPEN and the competent minister to align with the decision of justice as stated in the announcement of the company. ”

The decision of the Council of State was viewed in positive light by the employees. They state, however, that the problem remains and they will continue their protests until they return to work. With an announcement they invite the Minister to promptly re-evaluate his decision to revoke the authorizations of the technical studies and the company to proceed immediately following the revocation of the decision of the Minister with the cessation of the suspension and to ensure the immediate reinstatement of their dismissed colleagues working with partner contractors. The Association of Mining Industries (SME) is also concerned about the developments in the Cassandra Mines of Hellas Gold and it proposes a  trilateral meeting (YPAPEN, SME and Hellas Gold) to find a solution.

KATHIMERINI, 28/08/2015

 

 

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New prime minister names caretaker cabinet

Greece’s new prime minister, a top judge who is the country’s first female premier, named the members of her caretaker government Friday as the country heads to early elections next month, the third time Greeks will go to the polls this year.

The appointments come a day after Supreme Court head Vassiliki Thanou was sworn into office. The 65-year-old was appointed after outgoing prime minister Alexis Tsipras resigned last week, barely seven months into his four-year mandate, following a rebellion by members of his radical-left SYRIZA party who objected to his agreement with the conditions of Greeces third international bailout.

The finance ministry post went to Giorgos Houliarakis, an academic who had been on Greeces negotiating team during talks with creditors. Popular Greek pop singer Alkistis Protopsalti was named tourism minister. The new cabinet was sworn in Friday.

Elections are widely expected to be set for Sept. 20. Tsipras has said he needs a stronger mandate to implement the tough austerity measures accompanying the three-year, 86 billion euro bailout, but an opinion poll published in the left-leaning Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper Friday found small support for his move.

Sixty-four percent said Tsipras’ decision to call the snap poll was wrong, compared to 24 percent who considered it correct. The remainder took no position or did not reply.

Sixty-eight percent said they believe the country should remain within the euro even if it means further austerity measures and sacrifices. Asked whether the government got the best deal it could for the third bailout, 48 percent said yes and 45 percent disagreed.

The poll showed SYRIZA supported by 23 percent, compared to 26 percent in an early July survey by the same company. The conservative New Democracy party stood at about 20 percent compared to 15 percent in July.

The small nationalist Independent Greeks, SYRIZA’s partner in the seven-month coalition government, were backed by 2 percent, below the 3 percent threshold for to enter Parliament.

Tsipras has ruled out forming a coalition with any of the center-right or center-left parties if he fails to win a majority to govern outright, meaning he would be unable to form a government unless a party that didn’t make it into parliament last time manages to win above 3 percent.

The poll was conducted by the ProRata company on Aug. 25-26 with a sample of 1,000 people nationwide and had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

[AP]

source: http://www.ekathimerini.com/

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Chalkidiki miners meet with local authorities to discuss suspension of Mine Development

Miners in Chalkidiki, northern Greece, met with authorities from the municipality of Arnaia on Wednesday to discuss the Greek government’s decision to suspend Hellas Gold’s development of a gold mine in Skouries and Olympias.

Prior to and during the meeting, some miners had taken over the municipality building in a symbolic gesture of protest and were planning to evacuate it later in the day. According to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, the miners laid out their demands to the authorities who replied that these will be discussed in the region’s next council meeting.

Meanwhile, the miners that had enclosed themselves in the Skouries mine in protest of the government’s actions remain there.

Energy Minister Open to Dialogue

Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis told mining company Hellas Gold on Wednesday that the two sides can start a dialog if it immediately abides by its obligation to continue the operations that have not been explicitly halted by the Ministry.

In a letter sent to the company, Skourletis also urged the company to allow employees to return to their jobs. The Greek Minister explained that he distinguishes the revocation of the approval of Hellas Gold’s technical studies on the subprojects in Skouries and (partly) in Olympias from the overall project.
(Source:ANA-MPA)

By Anastassios Adamopoulos –
Aug 26, 2015- http://greece.greekreporter.com

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Hellas Gold calls for talks on mines

Hellas Gold, the company managing the Halkidiki mines where work has been suspended, urged the government to enter a dialogue after it described Energy Minister Panos Skourletis’s criticism of the firm’s activities as “lacking truth and scientific accuracy.”

Skourletis, who has suspended the technical studies for one of the mines, claimed on Tuesday that the firm shipped “highly toxic” metals from Thessaloniki to China when they should have been transported from a specially constructed harbor in Stratoni.

Hellas Gold denied this was the case and called for talks over what it described as “vitally important” investment for Greece.

Miners who have been suspended from work until the affair has been settled staged protests Tuedsay in the tunnels leading to the mines where they worked.

BUSINESS 25.08.2015 : 22:50   http://www.ekathimerini.com/

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Hellas Gold’ s reply to the Minister of Productive Reconstruction Mr. Panos Skourletis

Athens, August 24, 2015

 

Subject: Reply to the 21.8.2015 press release of the Ministry of Productive Reconstruction as well as the current statements of Mr. Panos Skourletis at the radio station VIMA 99.5

 

We read in the 21.8.2015 press release of the Ministry of Productive Reconstruction but we also heard from Mr. Panos Skourletis in today’s radio interview the reference to the company’s contractual obligations to the Greek State on issues that, at least from an environmental and technical point of view, have already been addressed and resolved.

 

And the so called “hostage” workers is a concept that does not concern us and does not fit our intentions – and that is a well known fact to our workers for the last 10 years.

 

Regarding the technical issue that arises, Hellas Gold was obliged under the by 10.02.2012 approved Technical Studies of the projects in Skouries and Olympias  (no. D8-A/F.7.49.13 / 2809/349 and D8-A/F.7.49.13/30258PE/5159PE respectively) to submit by February 2015, an appendix for the Technical Study of the Copper-Gold Metallurgical Unit, which was submitted on time with no. A2272 on 22.12.2014 .

 

The tests included in this Study were performed on a semi-industrial scale in the research center of the provider of the know-how which is the only competent body to certify these types of tests, since the only facilities worldwide where a complete  technical examination of the applicability of the method of  flash smelting is feasible are those of the company Outotec, which has developed and exclusively owns the relevant know-how in Pori, Finland.

 

ONLY in this way is it technically possible to ensure the applicability of the flash smelting pyrometallurgical method based on field data of the region of the Cassandra Mines and control its environmental impact, and this is the essence of the safeguard.

 

Also, the findings presented in the study are clearly dated after the enforcement of the terms of February 2012 and thus the formalities are fully covered.

 

We are discovering that the Minister states that the decision relates to part of the project, which is not true since, according to these environmental assessment approval studies, total investment of the Cassandra Mines is a complex task, with improvement operations of existing and new mining installations but also restoration of all old and non-functional spaces. Therefore the individual parts of the investment are linked together functionally forming one indissoluble unity.

 

We hope that the government responds to our letter from 27.7.2015 (decision no. A2386) requesting a dialogue that will help find a mutually acceptable solution for unobstructed continuation of the work of the Cassandra Mines.

 

 

 

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Greek Miners barricade themselves in the tunnels in a show of protest

The miners of Cassandra Mines (Skouries) continuing this morning’s mobilization, the blockage of the  junctions Stratoni and Planas. protesting against the decision of the Greek authorities to suspend the technical studies of Hellas Gold, resulting to the temporary closing of the mines and putting the investment of Eldorado Gold and their jobs at risk.

They say they are determined to stay in the bowels of the earth indefinitely. The development of the situation is far from auspicious as the upcoming elections  monopolize the interest of all… After this Friday there will not even be a government any more to address the issue, since it will be its last day.

There is no way the service government that will be formed till the elections, will deal with such an important issue as the investment at Skouries, let alone to reach decisions or recall decisions already made.

The issue will be addressed after the elections on Septemper 20 by the next goverment.
Video of the miners to barricading themselves in the galleries here …https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwdx0xN2dp4

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Anti-mining protesters clash with police, Miners block streets

About 1,000 anti-mining protesters on Sunday clashed with police at Kakkavos in northern Greece with the authorities arresting 78 people, while mine workers are blocking the streets on Monday.

The Canadian-run Hellas Gold company operating the gold mine in Skouries in the Chalkidiki region has furloughed about 2,000 employees after its license was suspended on the grounds of violating technical standards.

Environmental activists have been protesting the mine operation accusing Hellas Gold of destroying the environment. Several clashes between activists and police have taken place in the past.

The demonstration rally moved towards the mine but was stopped by police. Protesters threw rocks, firebombs and bolts at the policemen. After the skirmishes, 78 people were arrested and taken to the Polygyros Police Station where they are still detained.

According to authorities, many of the perpetrators arrested were foreigners, including German, British, Italian and Bulgarian citizens.

In a bus that carried protesters, police found slings and big bolts. On their part, protesters accused police for attacking them by firing stun grenades and tear gas without having been provoked.

On Monday, mine workers will have their own protest rally and announced that they will block streets and intersections in the Ierissos and Gomatio areas near the mines.

By Philip Chrysopoulos – Aug 24, 2015

http://greece.greekreporter.com

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Road blockages decided by the mine workers of Cassandra Mines

The unions of the workers of the Cassandra Mines, after the general meeting held in Stratoni on August 22, 2015 decided to start racing mobilization on Monday, August 24, 2015, with the exclusion of Stratoni and Planes intersections.

The workers  are called to gather on Monday morning at their workplaces and from there they will go to the blockage points, protesting against the decision of the Greek authorities to temporarily suspended work at Eldorado Gold’ northern Greece mine.

The note, signed by the Association of Scientific Personnel Cassandra Mines ‘Aristotle’, the Association of Employees and manual workers Cassandra Mines “Agia Varvara” and the Association basement Cassandra Mines, closes with the promise that “The struggle will continue and escalate in the near future with other actions until the final vindication”

Greek authorities have temporarily suspended work at Eldorado Gold’s  northern Greece mine, after determining the company had violated some terms.

http://www.metalleiachalkidikis.gr/blog/2015/08/metalleiachalkidikis-dromoikleistoiapodeftera/

 

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Eldorado Gold on the suspension of technical studies at Skouries

TSX: ELD  NYSE: EGO

VANCOUVER, Aug. 19, 2015 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold (“Eldorado” or “the Company”) confirms that Hellas Gold S.A. – a Greek subsidiary of the Company – has been made aware of a notification from Greece’s Ministry of Energy (“the Ministry”) suspending the technical studies pertaining to the Skouries and Olympias projects in Halkidiki, northern Greece.

The suspension is based on testwork completed on the Olympias Phase III flash smelting process. This pilot scale test work was completed at Outotec’s comprehensive metallurgical and smelting facility inFinland, while the Ministry contends that it should have been done at site in Halkidiki.

The testwork is a part of the technical studies pertaining to both the Skouries and Olympias projects. The technical studies form the basis of a number of other permits required by the Company in order to proceed with the development and construction of the Skouries and Olympias projects.  The Company is reviewing the notification of the Ministry with its technical and legal teams and will take legal action.

Paul Wright, Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado, commented: “We are most disappointed and perplexed by this entirely inappropriate decision of the Ministry of Energy, which puts 5,000 direct and indirect jobs inGreece at risk, including the jobs of 2,000 Greek employees and contractors of Hellas Gold.  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.  We will once more take legal action against a decision of the Ministry in order to safeguard the rights of Eldorado, Hellas Gold, our Greek employees and the communities and stakeholders that support our projects in Halkidiki.  At this time, work at all our Halkidiki operations and projects continues as normal; however, Hellas Gold may be forced to suspend all its mining and development activities in Halkidiki due to this rash decision by the Ministry of Energy.”

SOURCE Eldorado Gold Corporation

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Greek Environment Minister announces stoppage of Skouries Goldmine Development

Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panos Skourletis announced on Wednesday that there will be a temporary stop on the ongoing gold mining project in Skouries, northern Greece.

“With my decision today, we recall the approval of the technical studies. That means a temporary halt of the company’s work in Skouries,” he said after noting that the company had violated some of the studies’ agreed terms.

Skourletis added that while investments are welcome and necessary, investing companies must respect their agreed commitments to ensure the well-being of the state and the environment.

The Skouries goldmine is still being developed by Hellas Gold. The project has been subject to controversy for many years, as environmentalists and part of the local population have opposed and often demonstrated against the mine, citing environmental damage and the mine’s effects on the area’s tourism industry as reasons.

Canadian gold mining company Eldorado Gold is the majority owner of Hellas Gold. Skoureltis’ announcement comes after the Greek Council of the State had ruled in favor of Eldorado Gold on August 13.

By Anastassios Adamopoulos – source http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/08/19/

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Council of the State: The concession of public forest areas to Hellas Gold SA is legal

The concession (in use and ownership)  of sections of public forest areas to the company “HELLAS GOLD SA”, stretching over ​​3,273 acres in 2012 in the areas of Skouries and Madem Lakos in the Municipality of Aristoteli, was considered constitutional by the Fifth Division of the Council of State for the sake of public interest

Yesterday, the Council of State decided on the appeals pending on harvesting issues in the site of Skouries. The residents of Halkidiki had turned to the Council of State seeking an annulment of the decision of the General Secretary of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia – Thrace, according to which the disputed public forest sections were granted to the company “Hellas Gold SA”. The applicants argued that the concession violated a series of constitutional provisions and community directives on the sustainable development of forest protection and cultural environment.

The Council of State ruled that the ministerial decision took into account the rarity and quality of the ore, the mining for the sake of public interest and the economy and the impact of intervention on the forest ecosystem of the area corresponding to 0.44% of the wider study area. In particular, it accepted that the use of forest land for mining activities is constitutionally tolerable if alternatives have been considered, as in this case, and that those needs could not be met without sacrificing a portion of the forest.

There was also another decision regarding the applications for the annulment of the signs of the forest inspector of Arnea which were issued in March to put a halt to the mining operations in Skouries. The applications were submitted in the Labour Centre of Halkidiki and other professional associations of miners, of the company, etc. The recess was requested by the Ministry of Productive Environment Reconstruction and Energy, namely by the Deputy Minister Gianni Tsironis to check the legality and conduct a retesting.

The Council of State ruled that in the document of the Deputy Minister ” no delinquency is attributed to the logging operations or the Forest Service document and therefore the indefinite interruption is unjustified and that the contested decision must be annulled, since it was noted in the ministry’s website that checks concluded the legality of the issued protocols.”

SOURCE: NAFTEMPORIKI, 13/08/2015

 

 

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Greek FinMin: ‘We hope this Deal will take Greece forward’

The aid deal secured for Greece at the Eurogroup on Friday may lead the country forward as it is an opportunity to reform its economy, Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told journalists after the end of the Finance Ministers meeting in Brussels.

“After six months of very difficult negotiations with lots of ups and downs, we finally have an agreement. This deal is something that we hope will take Greece forward. It takes Greece forward in the sense that the financial system should be much more stable from now on,” Tsakalotos said, noting that the agreement excludes any bail-in for depositors.

He said this means that the process of reversing the negative effects of capital controls will start very quickly and will speedily return the banks to where they were before, and “hopefully on a far firmer footing.”

The Minister explained the deal has many opportunities for Greece. “It has an opportunity for Greek people to reform their public sector, to address the issue of corruption, the issue of tax evasion and a number of very important structural reforms.”

He also admitted it creates problems for many social groups and dealing with those problems will depend on how the government presents proposals that the institutions are willing to listen as a whole.

Tsakalotos also said that a development plan will be presented in March 2016 and at the same time the government will prepare plans for the agricultural sector and farmers before that.

“So in the end, how good this deal is it depends on how Greek society, state, economy, social and economic sectors respond to it. Any deal is only as good as what you make of it. So let’s hope the Greek people will be able to make the best of this deal and the ability to reform, and will mitigate any negative consequences that surely exist within it,” he noted.

(source: ana-mpa)

 

By A. Makris – Aug 15, 2015  source: http://greece.greekreporter.com/

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Eldorado Gold Provides Greece Update

VANCOUVER , Aug. 13, 2015 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold (“Eldorado” or “the Company”) is pleased to announce that the Council of State, Greece’s Supreme Court on administrative and environmental matters, has issued two court decisions pertaining to Hellas Gold S.A . (“Hellas Gold”), a subsidiary of Eldorado in Greece.  The two decisions, both in favour of Hellas Gold , are related to forestry land and site clearing rights at the Company’s Skouries gold-copper project in Halkidiki, Northern Greece .

Paul Wright , Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado , commented:  “The decisions of the Council of State confirm once more the legality of our activities in northern Greece.  This will allow Eldorado to accelerate construction activities at our Skouries Project in Halkidiki, generating additional long term employment opportunities for the Greek people and taxes to the Greek government. Mining is one of the industries that can help kick-start the Greek economy and support the beginnings of a recovery.”

About Eldorado Gold

Eldorado is a leading low cost gold producer with mining, development and exploration operations in Turkey , China, Greece , Romania and Brazil.  The Company’s success to date is based on a low cost strategy, a highly skilled and dedicated workforce, safe and responsible operations, and long-term partnerships with the communities where it operates.  Eldorado’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ELD.TO) and the New York Stock Exchange (EGO).

Certain of the statements made herein may contain forward-looking statements or information within the meaning of the United States Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and applicable Canadian securities laws. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements and forward-looking information can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “expects”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates”, or “believes” or the negatives thereof or variations of such words and phrases or statements that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved. Forward-looking statements or information herein include, but are not limited to the Company’s Greece Update.

Forward-looking statements and forward-looking information by their nature are based on assumptions and involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of the Company to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements or information.  We have made certain assumptions about the forward-looking statements and information and even though our management believes that the assumptions made and the expectations represented by such statements or information are reasonable, there can be no assurance that the forward-looking statement or information will prove to be accurate.  Furthermore, should one or more of the risks, uncertainties or other factors materialize, or should underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those described in forward-looking statements or information.  These risks, uncertainties and other factors include, among others, the following:  gold price volatility; discrepancies between actual and estimated production, mineral reserves and resources and metallurgical recoveries; mining operational and development risk; litigation risks; regulatory restrictions, including environmental regulatory restrictions and liability; risks of sovereign investment; currency fluctuations; speculative nature of gold exploration; global economic climate; dilution; share price volatility; competition; loss of key employees; additional funding requirements; and defective title to mineral claims or property, as well as those factors discussed in the sections entitled “Forward-Looking Statements” and “Risk Factors” in the Company’s Annual Information Form & Form 40-F dated March 27, 2015 .

There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements or information will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements.  Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements or information contained herein.  Except as required by law, we do not expect to update forward-looking statements and information continually as conditions change and you are referred to the full discussion of the Company’s business contained in the Company’s reports filed with the securities regulatory authorities in Canada and the U.S.

Contact
Krista Muhr, Vice President Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Eldorado Gold Corporation
604.601.6701 or 1.888.353.8166
Email: kristam@eldoradogold.com

SOURCE Eldorado Gold Corporation

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Massive gold reserves in Greece offer unique opportunity for Eldorado Gold

It’s no secret that economicturmoil and extreme uncertainty in Greece pose major threats to the global economy. Barring several setbacks and challenges, namely from Greece’s left-wing government, Eldorado Gold Corp. offers great potential in the country, as it has given itself the ammunition to achieve success in the near future through its gold projects.

Eldorado owns three gold projects in Greece: Olympias, Skouries and Perama Hill , along with an operating zinc mine called Stratoni. The company’s strong Greek presence doesn’t end there; among the seven companies that SNL tracks with projects in the country, Eldorado comes in second with $36.39 billion in reserves and resources in-situ value. The other companies combine for $43.90 billion.

Larco SA, the company with the largest in-situ value, owns an open pit nickel mine called Larco Nickel that has 2.5 million tonnes of contained nickel reserves and resources, although only 353,000 tonnes are classified as reserves. While the reserves and resources were last reported as of 2006, SNL has estimated Larco Nickel’s production at 18,000 tonnes for 2014.

SNL Attributable Greek project reserves and resources in situ values

SNL Eldroado active mine attributable in situ values by country

Additionally, Greece accounts for the largest chunk of Eldorado’s reserves and resources in-situ value, highlighting their commitment to future production in the country.  Turkey comes in second place at $21.01 billion in reserves and resources in-situ value.

Together, the Olympias, Skouries and Perama Hill projects account for 8.5 million ounces in attributable gold reserves, followed by the  Kisladag mine in Turkey with 8.1 million ounces. However, unlike the Kisladag mine, which is expected to close in 2020, the Olympias and Skouries mines are projected to be operating until 2040 and 2043, respectively. SNL data also captures zinc and copper reserves in Greece for comparison’s sake. The 950,950 tonnes of attributable zinc reserves and 728,650 tonnes of attributable copper reserves represent a much larger but less valuable portion of Eldorado’s operations in Greece.

Eldorado’s potential in Greece has not come without several roadblocks . In March, Greece’s then-newly elected government dealt a major blow to the Skouries project when it revoked a construction permit that would allow an essential processing plant to be built. This was primarily due to environmental and tourism concerns regarding the project. However, in late April a Greek court overturned a 2013 decision by a local environmental group that also denied the company approval for the plant. Per a June news release from Eldorado, “The Company expects commissioning of the Skouries Project in the first quarter of 2017 pending anticipated near-term resolution of outstanding approval challenges.”

Clearing regulatory hurdles will allow Eldorado to move forward with the Skouries project, which together with Olympias will offer new opportunities for both the company and Greece.

Eldorado already invested $450 million between these two projects and is not backing down despite risk in the country. The company’s Investor Presentation from June highlights that it continues to employ over 2,000 people in Greece — where unemployment figures remain north of 25% — and that it will pay at least $1 billion in taxes to the Greek government over the next two decades.

SNL Eldorado attributable gold, zinc, copper reserves by project in Greece

SNL data illustrates the stark contrast of Eldorado’s attributable in-situ values for gold, zinc and copper projects, which represent some of the company’s primary commodities. Stratoni, the company’s only operating zinc mine in Greece, has an in-situ value of $164.2 million based on its total attributable reserves and a nominal zinc price of $2,161/tonne. Skouries provides the company with an in-situ value of $4.58 billion in copper reserves based on a nominal price of $6,283/tonne. Conversely, Eldorado’s three gold projects account for $9.74 billion in attributable in situ value, based on a nominal gold price of $1,150/oz.

These figures — combined with the fact that there are only 76,000 tonnes of attributable zinc reserves at Stratoni, make clear the rationale behind Eldorado’s continued commitment to its Greek gold projects despite the country’s ongoing financial crisis. Eldorado can expect to see a substantial increase in Greek gold production starting in 2016 when phase two construction at Olympias is complete and in 2017 when Skouries commences production. By 2020, Eldorado has estimated 123,420 equivalent ounces of annual gold production at Olympias alone.

 

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Greek government says discussing draft of third bailout deal

Greek government officials discussed a draft of the country’s third bailout agreement drawn up on the basis of discussions with EU/IMF lenders, a government official said on Saturday, boosting hopes a deal could be wrapped up in days.

Athens is racing to wrap up the bailout agreement of as much as 86 billion euros ($94.35 billion) by as early as Tuesday in a bid to get the first disbursement of aid by Aug. 20, when it faces a debt payment to the European Central Bank.

Officials from European Union and International Monetary Fund lenders met Greece’s finance and economy ministers in Athens on Saturday, the day after EU finance officials held a teleconference and noted progress in the talks.

The talks on Saturday focused on the so-called “prior actions” Greece must legislate to qualify for loans, and the two sides reached agreement on the issue, a senior government official said without giving details.

Talks will continue on Sunday to discuss more contentious issues, the official said.

“The agreement will be concluded comfortably before Aug.18,” the official said.

Greece narrowly dodged a euro zone exit last month after months of acrimonious negotiations that culminated with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras clinching a deal tied to stringent austerity and reform terms to avoid economic collapse.

Since then negotiations on the agreement itself – which will spell out details of the reforms and funds to be disbursed – have proceeded remarkably smoothly, with the lenders praising Greece for its cooperation.

The view of EU officials on Friday’s conference call was that talks are proceeding well and may be completed over the weekend, one source familiar with the matter said.

If a draft memorandum of understanding and an updated debt sustainability analysis are ready as planned on Tuesday, the Greek government and parliament would be expected to approve them by Thursday.

This would open the way for euro zone finance ministers to meet or hold a teleconference on Friday to endorse the up to 86 billion euro three-year loan program for Athens.

Greece would be expected to enact another package of reform legislation before Aug. 20, in parallel with national ratification procedures to receive a first aid payment in time to meet the ECB payment.

[Reuters]

GEORGE GEORGIOPOULOS http://www.ekathimerini.com/

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Bank of Greece shares buck southbound trend

Not all Greek bank stocks fell on Tuesday – the central bank’s shares soared.

Bank of Greece is one of the rare central banks to be traded on a public bourse.

Its shares were up 15.8 percent on Tuesday, a day after gaining 8.5 percent, albeit from an opening low not seen since the late 1990s.

The Greek commercial bank index – which excludes Bank of Greece – fell close to 30 percent on both Monday and Tuesday as investors worried about recapitalization stemming from a flight of euros from deposits.

As a central bank, Bank of Greece has no recapitalization needs.

[Reuters]

http://www.ekathimerini.com/200247/article/ekathimerini/business/bank-of-greece-shares-buck-southbound-trend

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Hellas Gold: Profitability in the midst of crisis

Eldorado Gold is moving on the second phase of its business development in the Greek market through its subsidiary Hellas Gold. According to the CEO of Eldorado Gold Mr. Paul Wright, “in the framework of the announcement of the financial results of the Canadian multinational for the second quarter of 2015, the company will continue to the next stage of its development in Skouries and Olympias under its contracts and in collaboration with 2,000 employees in the country”. In particular during the second quarter of 2015 the activities of Eldorado Gold in Greece focused, among others, in exploring deposits in the Halkidiki area in the porphyry zone in the region of Skouries/Tsikara/Fisoka.

Meanwhile the Greek subsidiary Hellas Gold decided to proceed directly with 60 recruits, as well as increases in productivity bonuses because of the implementation of the seven-day operation program in the production process. 600 additional recruits are expected to be implemented by promoting the building permit of the enrichment factory and the logging permit in Skouries, Halkidiki. According to the CEO of the company. Mr. Michael Theodorakopoulos, “the mining company has ensured stability in recent years in payrolls, dealings and turnover and significant momentum in commissions, trade and construction. New jobs are added to the existing capacity of 2,000 workers currently employed in “Cassandra Mines” in NE Chalkidiki. It is worth noting that the job applications submitted to the company have reached the number of 11,000.

According to the parent company Eldorado Gold there is significant progress in Skouries in regards to the implementation of the expansion project, the construction of factories that serve the exploitation and processing of minerals has been completed, and the installation of factory equipment has begun. The development of the next phase has been determined in Olympias from which the calculated revenue is 618 million dollars before taxes from the first five years of the second production phase (except 2016). In Stratoni the overall ore production in the second quarter of 2015 was lower on an annual basis. The capacity of the plant was affected by the decline in the production of mines and the miners’ strike in support of the company’s projects in the area of ​​Skouries.

Overall in the second quarter of 2015, Eldorado Gold produced a total of 181,160 ounces of gold (including production by the site of Olympias), compared to 200,551 in the corresponding quarter of 2014 with the adjusted net profit standing at 17 million dollars over 35.9 million dollars. in 2014. In the second quarter of 2015 the company’s revenues amounted to 214.2 million dollars. Revenues from gold sales amounted to 204.2 million dollars. On the part of the Canadian multinational estimates for 2015 refer to gold production of 690,000 ounces.

NAFTEMPORIKI, 08/01/2015, by Letta Kalamara

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Greek Mining Association (SME) chairman: The exctractive industry is resistant

The classification of our country as unstable and at high financial risk adds a burden on business endeavour in the era of capital controls, says the new chairman of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association, Athanasios Kefalas.

Greek mining enterprises have managed to develop from suppliers of mineral raw materials to strategic partners for their customers, helping the sector to go fairly well commercially, with satisfactory financial results, despite the international turmoil and the great internal crisis.

What are the problems faced by the member companies of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association (SME) in the current period of capital controls;

Most member companies of SME have a clear export orientation and collaborations or activities abroad. The main problem faced by our industry with the implementation of capital controls is the considerable difficulty in payment of obligations due to the malfunctioning of the banking system and the demands of many suppliers (foreign and local) to pay “in cash”. There are difficulties in the safe collection of receivables (income) either due to failure of the banking system or due to malfunction of the cheque clearing cycle. There is freezing of funds for the exceptional, significantly higher than usual, storage of raw materials and fuel, to enable seamless customer service without risk for penalties for non-performance of long term contracts. We have considerable difficulties in exporting products with trucks and containers, because there is a decrease in the imported shipments and because travel became unprofitable or too expensive, but due to the demand of payments “in cash” that could not be done. There are considerable difficulties in the timely payment of salaries and other benefits to employees, but it did not reach the point where we were unable to pay them. But apart from the immediate issues, a key issue is the classification of our country as unstable and at a high financial risk, which may result in due time in the loss of international markets, with adverse effects on the productive activity of the sector in Greece and the country’s trade balance. Here I would like to point out the high cost of managing this crisis with the creation and long operation of team forces, the need for communication organization regarding the staff, customers and suppliers etc. But, ultimately, due to the effective mobilization of our companies we believe that we have managed to limit the adverse impact of the restrictive measures to keep the production almost unabated and create a sense of security to our customers, staff and suppliers.

 

What is the assessment for the first six months in terms of the performance of the industry and how are things in the marketplace in terms of supply and demand for the products of the industry in Greece and abroad?

In the international market the prices of metals are low with a continuous downward trend. Aluminium, for example, has reached 1,630 dollars per tonne, dragging down the premiums, while nickel went down to 13,500 dollars per tonne. But it should be noted that the exports of Greek bauxite exhibit growth at good prices. A big advantage at this stage for the mining metallurgical industry sector is the significant drop of the Euro/dollar rate. This balances out the sharp drop in metal prices. Similar problems occur with magnesia products, the price of which exhibits a strong downward trend due to the oversupply of Chinese products. Moreover, there is oversupply of cheap steel in international markets from China, and this factor affects the operational restriction of many foundries and the natural absorption of magnesia products. In terms of industrial minerals, their demand is maintained at acceptable levels. The situation with aggregate building materials is very difficult because of the prolonged economic crisis. Therefore, excluding the construction materials sector, despite the international turmoil and great internal crisis the sector is going quite well commercially, with satisfactory financial results.

Are the businesses of the industry resistant? Should we expect a wave of exits from the country?

Mining enterprises have managed to cope with the challenges of the prolonged crisis due to three factors: extroverted orientation, timely reconstruction of operating structures and by switching from sales of ores and minerals to providing integrated solutions in the markets we serve. Greek mining products, starting from deposits with very good features, are driven by more than 65% by foreign markets – also the size of the Greek market would not allow the development of the sector at today’s levels. To maintain and improve their competitiveness, Greek extractive industries proceeded promptly to changes in their business model and investments aiming at the increased flexibility in the organization of work, quality assurance of products, training and staff motivation, improvement of working conditions, increased productivity etc. Most importantly they managed to develop from suppliers of mineral raw materials to strategic partners who provide total solutions to their customers, thus greatly improving the added value of their products and their competitiveness at an international level. As for businesses exiting the country, we categorically reply “no”. Mineral resources are a competitive advantage for our country. High quality Greek ore deposits, industrial mineral marble etc. constitute a “magnet” for foreign investments in our country. Meanwhile, foreign investment groups in the Greek mining industry constitute a “vote of confidence” for the Greek mining businesses and the financial prospects of our country. Additionally, the strategic cooperation of Greek mining enterprises with international players such as IMERYS, ELDORADO, KERNEOS Lafarge Holcim etc., has considerably strengthened their competitiveness, either through significantly lower costs of financing or utilizing and leveraging their international structures. However, it is important to emphasize that given the nature of the object – deposits cannot be moved and the entire mining and primary processing chain remains in Greece – the bulk of the output value of the activity remains in our country in the form of workers’ pay, purchases of services from the domestic market, the payment of taxes and fees, as well as contributions in implementing corporate social responsibility programs. The last six years of the crisis (2009-2014), the mining industry was perhaps the only sector in Greece that maintained its job positions and production structures. During the period 2009-2014 the mining industry had a total turnover of around 15 billion Euros and exports exceeding 10 billion Euros. At the same time its investments in research and development of products exceeded 100 million Euros. During the same period, it has realized total investments in new projects, new equipment, modernization of production and waste management practices or utilization of by-products of more than 2 billion Euros, while 100 million Euros were spent for environment protection and restoration of the environment.

What are the persisting issues of the industry which must be urgently addressed by the state?

The priorities of Greek mining companies for which we are working closely with the state to proceed quickly and efficiently are the following:

  • Full implementation of the National Policy for the Exploitation of Mineral Resources (MRM), with the issue of the necessary legislation that will include timetables for implementation actions.
  • Integration, in a horizontal manner, of the National Policy Guidelines for the MRM across all individual policies and plans to ensure the optimal use of reserves and the public benefit.
  • Taking initiative together with the state to inform local communities about the importance of exploiting the mineral resources of the country in regards of regional development and national economy, always respecting the principles of sustainable development.

What is your vision for the industry as the new president of the SME?

My main concern is, in close collaboration with the state, to quickly make steps that will highlight the comparative advantages for the national economy and regional development of our country by exploiting the country’s mineral resources with respect to the principles of sustainable development.

 

[SOURCE: NAFTEMPORIKI, 30/07/2015]

 

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Greek stock market aims to reopen Monday

Greece’s stock market aims to reopen on Monday following a five-week shutdown but is still awaiting a finance ministry decree detailing new trading rules, the Greek securities regulator’s chairman told Reuters on Friday.

The Athens Stock Exchange (ASE)  has been shut since June 29, when the government closed banks and imposed strict limits on withdrawals and foreign transfers to prevent a run on deposits by savers and companies. The bourse’s reopening has been delayed several times this week.

“We’re working on the basis of Monday but we’re waiting for the minister’s decision, which is the legal prerequisite for the reopening,” said Konstantinos Botopoulos, chairman of the Hellenic Capital Market Commission.

Traders and exchange officials had hoped the exchange would be able to reopen this week after the European Central Bank gave Greece the green light to allow normal operations by foreign investors with some limits for local investors.

Under the ECB-approved plan, local investors would be allowed to buy shares with existing cash holdings, but not to withdraw money from their Greek bank accounts to buy shares.

Some market participants had warned that unlimited trading for domestic investors would have posed a serious risk for lenders by accelerating capital outflows.

Technical glitches at local banks, which will be required to enforce the trading restrictions, have further complicated the exchange’s reopening and many securities traders have taken an early summer holiday during the closure.

Traders said on Friday, however, they were optimistic the stock exchange would reopen sometime next week.

[Reuters]

http://www.ekathimerini.com/200123/article/ekathimerini/business/greek-stock-market-aims-to-reopen-monday

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Greek Energy Minister Rules Out Privatization of Independent Power Transmission Operator

Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panos ruled out the privatization of Greece’s Independent Power Transmission Operator (ADMIE) and stressed that the company will remain under state control, ensuring equal access to all energy producers.

Negotiations between Skourletis’ Ministry and Greece’s creditors’ representatives are due to begin on Wednesday and mainly focus on ADMIE’s privatization and other energy market issues.

Based on the Euro Summit decision, ADMIE must either be privatized or alternative measures must be found that have an equivalent result for competition.

In statements after meeting with the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) leadership, Skourletis said developments are leading to elections within the year, once an agreement with Greece’s European partners is signed. He also denied the existence of a “Drachma Plan” within the government, at least on a collective policy level.

– See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/07/29/greek-energy-minister-rules-out-privatization-of-independent-power-transmission-operator/#sthash.zzc6k8Al.dpuf

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What next for gold?

Following what was, in retrospect, a hugely successful bear raid on gold initiated with Sunday night/Monday morning’s flash crash, continued with less publicised market interventions, gold fell Friday at one time to below the chart-significant $1080 level.

It did make something of a sharp recovery after that, even crossing up through the $1100 mark in later trading that day and closing for the weekend at $1099.50.

The gold price fall has seen some significant withdrawals from the big gold ETFs – notably the SPDR Gold ETF (GLD) – with the gold freed up almost certainly being used to further depress the market as it was in 2013.

Deja vu all over again, as Yogi Berra would have put it!

To recap – in 2013 gold fell from a beginning of the year level of $1681.50 at the LBMA morning fix on January 2nd to 1201.50 at the close on December 31st, a decline of 28.5% – despite what appeared to be record gold buying from China.

Withdrawals from the Shanghai Gold Exchange hit a little under 120 tonnes in a single week in April that year and a year’s total of a massive 2,181 tonnes – almost 70% of global new mined production.

This year, gold opened in London on January 2nd at $1184.25. A similar 28.5% decline would take the year-end gold price down to just below the $850 level. Is this what’s in store for gold this year?

That would be even lower than some of the most bearish gold analysts are forecasting.

Now if the price continues to fall, at some stage gold will start looking so cheap that a flood of buying will undoubtedly reverse the current downwards trend, but with the plethora of anti-gold sentiment expressed in the media this may yet be some way off time-wise.

A continuing price fall will also lead to accelerated closure of a number of gold mining operations around the world, and bring an abrupt halt to many – or even most – new gold mine developments which, between them, will change gold supply/demand fundamentals rather faster than has previously been anticipated.

Base metals prices, which have mostly come back even further than gold will also mean something similar for many mines that would otherwise produce gold as a significant by-product.

It will be interesting to see what Chinese and Indian buying does now – anecdotal evidence suggests that purchasing has risen very sharply in the past couple of weeks and we are already beginning to see how intense this has really been with the latest data out of the Shanghai Gold Exchange.

SGE figures are published weekly on Fridays so we have now seen the level for the week ended July 17th, before the bear raid, hit just over 69 tonnes – the fifth highest weekly total ever at what is normally a weak time of year.

But the really significant figure for the most recent week with gold crashing to a 5 ½ year low will have to wait until the July 31st announcement to see whether the Chinese are remaining buyers at low levels, or have been disillusioned by gold’s performance over the past couple of years so as now for many prospective purchasers to be giving it a miss altogether.

The same may be true for India. There is anecdotal evidence that gold price discounts there have become premiums suggesting at least some demand pick-up.

It does also remain interesting to note that in some other significant currencies, despite the drastic US dollar price fall, the gold price has been pretty well flat over the year to date (in the Euro) and has actually even risen a little (Canadian and Australian dollars).

With Australia and Canada being the world’s second and seventh largest gold producers the gold price cloud there still has a silver lining!

But the big question facing the gold investor is where is the price going from here?

From a technical perspective, if it falls below the key $1080 support level, the next rack downwards could be to $1050 or even lower.

But the lower gold goes, the bigger the potential for a major turnaround as sentiment swings from negative to bargain hunting positive. What goes down will eventually come back up – the big question is how far will it fall first and then when will a sustainable recovery set in.

Some technical analysts think now is the time for a very big gold price surge, but while they may look for specific retracement levels under Dow Theory or Fibonacci Sequences the reality is that psychological levels like $1050 or $1000 for gold may actually prove to be even more important in the support context and $1150 and $1200 as the next big potential break-out hiatus levels on the upside.

There is a suspicion that last Sunday’s/Monday’s flash crash was overdone and far too blatant in that it has put financial market manipulation, and that of gold in particular, firmly into the gunsights of the global media – not before time.

Did the bears who precipitated the sharp fall overdo it this time? Could this lead to the change in sentiment gold needs as a prelude to a significant recovery? Has gold reached its bottom at last? Gold miners and investors will be hoping against hope that this is indeed the case.

 

This article appears courtesy of Mine Web. To read more daily international and mining finance news

Lawrence Williams, http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/features/what-next-for-gold

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Anglo American to axe 53.000 jobs, puts 15 assets up for sale

Anglo American (LON:AAL) announced Friday it lost $3 billion during the first half of 2015 and that it would cut 53,000 jobs in the coming years, as a deep rout in commodity prices continue to add strain to battered miners everywhere.

Chief Executive Mark Cutifani said in a presentation to investors that the company is also considering further asset sales as a way of deepening cost cuts. Additionally, the miner will slash about 35% of its total workforce over the next several years, including positions in operations it plans to sell.

The job cuts include the expected loss of 6,000 jobs at overhead operations, including 4,000 jobs in corporate-office operations. The overhead cuts should result in $500 million in cost savings, Cutifani said while announcing the firm was taking a one-time charge of $3.5 billion, including $2.9 billion from a write-down on the value of its massive Minas-Rio iron ore project in Brazil.

However, Anglo maintained its interim dividend of 32 cents per share, something that was under scrutiny since its Kumba Iron Ore unit passed on its own dividend a few days ago.

“Pretty tough” market

Anglo American to axe 53,000 jobs, put 15 assets up for sale

The company, which reported half-year profit before tax of $1.9 billion, or 36% less than in the same period last year, said it didn’t expect the commodity price rout to be so dramatic.

“It is a pretty tough market,” said Cutifani, “and in all likelihood the next six months are going to be even tougher.”

Anglo’s operating profits from iron ore more than halved in the period; diamonds dropped 25%; and copper was down 77%.

None of the big diversified miners has suffered as much as Anglo. The stock is trading at its lowest in more than a decade, closing down 3.5% in London Friday.

 

http://www.mining.com/anglo-american-to-axe-53000-jobs-put-15-assets-up-for-sale/

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The Greek vote and what it means for the Energy Sector

In the small hours of the morning of July 16, Athens time, the Greek parliament passed a tough set of reforms as the price for another European bailout. The aftershocks of this will be felt throughout the energy sector.However, even this tough pill is not likely to be enough. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported on Monday, July 13, that Greece may not pull through without an absolute reduction in the debt owed. Germany has already bristled over the prospect of a creditor “haircut,” and the prospects of another round of negotiations has everybody fit to be tied on both sides of the conversation.

Greece debt crisisWhether European creditors like it or not, to avoid contagion to the rest of Europe, we will need a contemporary version of the Brady Bonds that allowed emerging market (mainly Latin American) countries to refinance defaulted debt some four decades ago.

What happens next will fill the streets of Greek cities with angry citizens who voted a resounding “No” barely two weeks ago only to be force-fed an even less palatable “Yes” by their own government. The deal passed only because oppositional pro-Europe parties voted in favor of it. But the pact is even more onerous than the package of widely unpopular reforms rejected in the referendum.

It will also leave Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his ruling Syriza party without a majority in the legislature, virtually guaranteeing early elections and more political disarray. Some sort of national united front will emerge to govern, but the next several years are likely to be lean ones.

There are three major effects from this Greek drama that will affect the energy market.

Here’s my take on these aftershocks…

Lower Bond Yields Will Help Oil Producers

Some sectors of the Greek economy will undergo a managed contraction, assuming, of course, that the government actually honors the agreement made and the package passed on July 16. Previous action (or, more properly, inaction) consistently put forward over the past five years makes compliance more than a passing concern. However, our primary investment interest – energy – is going to have some benefits coming.

First, the bailout package will provide relief on the wider European credit market. Should Greece have defaulted, it would have resulted in an elevation of interest rates, with high yield (i.e., “junk”) bonds rising faster than investment-grade debt.

Energy debt in general, and oil/natural gas production debt in particular, occupies the higher end of the junk bond market. That means the spread between interest rates would widen, with energy credit taking the brunt of that cost.

Now, the problem with energy debt is continuing even without a Greek enticement. But at least an immediate catalyst to an even worse situation is avoided. Companies are still going to be added to the prime M&A target list, and projects will still be delayed. However, there will not be a feeding frenzy…

By DR. KENT MOORS, Global Energy Strategist, Oil & Energy Investor • @KentMoors_OEI •

http://moneymorning.com/2015/07/20/the-greek-vote-and-what-it-means-for-the-energy-sector/

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Where is Greece’s Gold hidden?

The Goldfinger is probably the most iconic appearance of Sean Conery as James Bond. From the Cold War hero of “From Russia with Love” to the super spy in the next decades, the fame of the playboy who conquers three to four girls per film, proponent of the necessary often atomic bomb turned off seconds before the disaster, the film has a prominent place in the annals of the adventures of the perfect agent for the most challenging element of the plot: Bond’s opponent wants to render the gold reserves of America in Fort Knox radioactive for 58 years and become himself the worldwide Midas thanks to the quantities he has gathered. The truth is that in 1964 the concern over gold was not so great. In the era of sustainable development the precious metal was generally not so popular. Fifty years later, the era of near miss Grexit for us and monetary uncertainty for many others, there is nothing banal about dreaming of gold bars. This is why several central banks around the world seek persistently for some years now to gather again in their basements those that for safety reasons had previously interspersed in other’s chests. First and foremost, expected or not, Germany.

EUROPEAN QUESTIONS: A typical gold bar is approximately as long as two cans of cola. All the difference is in weight: instead of 660 grams, such as soft drinks, it weighs about 13.5 kg. The sensation that someone feels when sees and then lifts a gold bar is not surprising at all. There are not so many people, after all, who will have this chance in their life. Despite its constant presence in human history, the yellow metal is really rare: according to the World Gold Council (the market development organization for the global gold industry), only 175,000 metric tons of gold have been mined in all human history. If someone gathered this quantity, he would form a cube 21 meters of each side. It is not impressive at all for a key cause of war, revolutions and mobilizations of some of the less noble instincts of humanity. It is enough, however, to move for millennia the world economy and for some others, such as the 45-year-old German businessman Peter Boehringer, it is necessary even today in the era of credit cards, electronic transactions and Bitcoin. Boehringer, owner of an asset management firm engaged in precious metals and mining shares, according to Bloomberg Businessweek, belongs to a minority: those who are afraid that today’s economy is built entirely on trust of consenting adults with regard to the return on their capital and that means it is built on shaky foundations. At first sight the bubble of American mortgages and the crisis of 2008 or the Greek liquidity adventure would provide him with arguments but the views of most economists on dematerialized securities which facilitate human transactions would take these arguments away. However, what he was primarily interested in since 2012 when he began his Internet campaign was not a setback in the gold currency, but the precise location of Germany’s reserves. Discussing with, attracting and organizing like-minded people, Boehringer reached in September 2012 the issue of a court order obliging the Bundesbank, the German federal bank, to disclose the extent and location of the country’s gold reserves.

In response to the decision, in October 2012, the bank revealed that only 1,036 out of the then 3,396 tons of reserves worth about 140 billion euros were in Germany. Other 1,536 tons, 45% of the total quantity was stored in the basements of 33 Liberty St. in New York, the Federal Reserve Bank of USA, while the rest was stored in the Bank of England and the Bank of France. Boehringer’s campaign forced the German Central Bank to announce the repatriation plan of 300 tons by 2020. Five tons of those arrived in Frankfurt in 2013 and 85 tons in 2014. But Boehringer was not satisfied. He questions whether the bars are the same ones that were sent to America during the Cold War and calls for the repatriation of the last ounce in the homeland. Peter Boehringer may be an extreme case of hidden gold nationalism, but his concerns are shared by individuals and institutions in various parts of the world. In May 2014, the Bank of Italy, the fourth largest gold holder in the world with 2451.8 tons (according to data of April 2015, the US come first with 8,133 tons, then Germany with 3,384.2 tons and then, surprisingly, the IMF with 2,814 tons) disclosed the location of its gold reserves in Rome and New York. Switzerland did the same in November, while in the same month the Dutch Central Bank announced that it had already transferred 122.5 tons out of 612.5 tons of its reserves from New York to Amsterdam. The reason for that was the most balanced distribution among the storage sites and the potential positive impact on the psychology of the public. The risk of high storage of gold led the Austrian Central Bank to request on May 2015 the transfer of 140 tons form the UK in the next five years, 92.4 out of which were intended for Vienna and 47.6 of which for Switzerland.

The central banks, always prudent in their words, could not speak more straightforwardly about their motives. For a better view of what causes this mobility at that time, however, anyone may refer to individuals’ strategies. According to the World Gold Council, the first quarter of 2015, gold demand in Germany increased by 20% compared to 2014, while it went over 10% in France, Switzerland and Austria.  Analyzing the issue in mid-May, the CNN.com attributed the phenomenon to the fear of inflation (a word that is boogeyman in Germany because of the memory of economic collapse and hyperinflation of the interwar period), which revived by the implementation of quantitative easing by Mario Draghi in the form of bond purchase of 1.3 trillion euros from the European Central Bank, but also the endless Greek crisis and the instability of the situation in Russia-Ukrainian border.

AMERICAN CONCERNS: If the European repatriations have to do with the questions of the euro or the national ideology, on the opposite Atlantic shore the concerns are part of the permanent tug of war between federal and state power. On June 16, the American public opinion was informed that Texas had just voted a law according to which the government was to rebuild a vault to house 1 billion dollars worth of gold currently stored by the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. This move, according to American commentators, was twofold: on the one hand, to safeguard against any possibility of confiscation by the federal authorities in case of emergency, on the other hand the creation of an electronic payment system with the precious metal as collateral, in order, as stated by the man who initially drafted the legislation, Rick Cunningham, executive director of the Texas Center for Economics, Law and Policy, not only to guarantee the function of state and local government, but also to guarantee much of the economy of Texas in national financial or currency crisis. Republican State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione who introduced the bill explains the reasoning of the bill in his interview with the Epoch Times: “I have a vision, I would like for Texas to compete with Manhattan or the exchanges in Chicago. Here in Texas we have oil, we have natural gas, we have our own electric grid. To me having a bunch of metal commodities in the mix is something else that helps Texas to be able to become a marketplace for a lot of different items”. However, he also raised the issue of business credit as the core of the 2008 crisis, pointing out the need for support in solid foundations. In other words: the idea behind this is to have something that is stable and that you can touch as opposed to being ephemeral like paper or bank money. However, such an approach renders useless a century of economic history – the connection of gold with the release of currency, that is its convertibility into gold, practically ended in Europe with the outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914, while its security status based on the reserves of the central banks was abandoned during the interwar period, after the Great Depression. When in 1944 the conference of Bretton Woods established the guidelines of the postwar international monetary system, the old gold standard was circumvented in favor of an interconnection of exchange rates focusing on the dollar and its own stable exchange value to gold ($ 35 an ounce), an option, however that was not offered to individuals or companies. Βut this indirect convertibility was suspended unilaterally by decision of President Nixon in 1971.

For Stephen Flood, analyzer of the website Goldcore.com, this whole succession is seriously contested for geopolitical reasons: Europe and Texas are not the only ones that ask for gold, but Russia and China have proceeded with frantic gold hoarding. If any of these two countries, he writes, chooses to support its currency with gold, having gathered huge amounts of it in recent years, the US would be forced to follow them in order to prevent the drastic drop in the dollar value and keep its status as a reserve currency.  Similar scenarios indicate presumably the innermost fears of analysts, despite the realistic reflection of rollover possibilities of the global monetary order. Certainly, one should read proposals such as the days of the notes and electronic currencies based on faith in governments which the public increasingly mistrust. That is because a golden revolution from Russia and China should not be expected soon: in the table showing the gold reserves by country as reported by the World Gold Council they rank sixth and seventh with 1,207.7 and 1054.1 tons respectively, far away from 8,133.5 tons of US, 3,384.2 tons of Germany or 2,814 of the IMF. Why provoke an international unrest with a weapon in which you do not predominate, unless you have the confidence of Chuck Norris, or at least of Yanis Varoufakis.

 

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The Treasure Hunt

Can Greek gold reserves be used to address the debt crisis?

In March 2003 the Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras defined the quantity of Greek gold reserves to 3,760 thousand ounces, valued at 4.7 billion euros, half of which is kept at the Bank of Greece and the rest is kept in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in USA, the Bank of England and Switzerland. In 2003 the Bank of Greece proceeded with the last big sale of gold amount (20 tons, the revenues of which, approximately 207 million euros, were invested in high-yield bonds, such as European government bonds), and the deposit interest for the metal was only 0.1%.  The Bank of Greece, having accumulated over 40 years more than 80 tons from the liquidations of gold pounds and gold tiles that were kept in safe deposit boxes and chests, as George Papadimitriou wrote in an older article in Vima, it made a move that was usual in several economies of that time, Portugal reduced at the same time its reserves from 606 tons to 340.  It was the prosperity of the euro, which had already established itself as a reserve currency alternative to the dollar, which rendered obsolete the previous hoard of gold policy, either as a support method of national currencies in situations of speculative attacks or as a safe haven for purchase of raw materials in any moments of geopolitical tensions. Today there is no need for a country to maintain high gold reserves, as said by Mr. Antonios Mantzavinos, member of the Monetary Policy Council of the Bank of Greece, to Mr. George Papaioannou. With the euro the importance of gold has almost eliminated.   Since 2007 and onwards, this trend was interrupted. The Greek reserves remain stable with a very slight upward trend: from 111.88 tons estimated by the World Gold Council in January 2012, the total reserves amounted to 112.5 tons at the end of the first quarter of 2015.  This is the reason why their creative utilization was proposed for tackling the debt crisis, such as by the German newspaper Die Welt in the summer of 2011, and the German bank Commerzbank that pointed it out again in June 19, 2015 in the course of Greek uncertainty regarding the payment of the loan instalment due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  In theory, Greece could pay off the instalment of 1.5 billion euros at the end of the month by selling 47 tons of gold from its reserves stated in the relevant note. Certainly, the procedures for doing so are not like easy: on the one hand gold falls within the jurisdiction of the independent central bank which in turn is governed by the supervision of the ECB and, on the other hand, the speed of such a divestment is rather unknowable.

SUNDAY VIMA NEWSPAPER_VIMAGAZINO, 19/07/2015

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CHINA BREAKS 6 YEAR SILENCE ON GOLD RESERVES

China ended years of speculation about its official gold holdings by revealing an almost 60 percent jump in its reserves since 2009.

The country’s central bank said its gold reserves were 1,658 tonnes (53.31 million fine troy ounces) as of the end of June. In April 2009, reserves were 1,054 tonnes.

The purchases show how China is seeking to diversify its reserves away from the US dollar at a time when the price of gold has fallen to near its lowest price since 2010.

But that task has been complicated by the rapid growth in China’s foreign exchange reserves, which are the world’s largest at over $3 trillion.

 

At a value of $60.9 billion based on today’s prices China’s gold reserves only make up 1.6 per cent of its total foreign exchange holdings. The world average was just under 10 per cent at the end of 2014, according to Reuters GFMS.

China has been reducing its foreign exchange reserves this year, reporting $3.69tn at the end of June, down from $3.84tn in January.

“Gold has special risk-return characteristic, and at specific times is not a bad investment,” the People’s Bank of China said on its website.

“But the capacity of the gold market is small compared with China’s foreign exchange reserves, if foreign exchange reserves were used to buy large amounts of gold in a short amount of time, it will easily affect the market.

The 604 tonnes increase did not exceed analyst estimates and the price of gold was unmoved on the news.

“If you like gold the fact they bought it it’s a good thing but it’s not bullish in terms of the scale,” said Leon Westgate, an analyst at ICBC Standard Bank.

Still, the data means China has now overtaken Russia as the sixth largest holder of gold in the world, after the US, Germany, the International Monetary Fund, Italy and France, according to the World Gold Council. The US has gold reserves of 8,133 tonnes.

China does not regularly release data on its gold reserves. Before China’s last announcement in 2009, there were only two other announcements of changes to its gold reserves over the past 15 years, according to UBS.

It is possible the gold announcement is a “one-off transparency gesture” as the IMF concludes talks this year about inclusion of its currency in its Special Drawing Rights (SDR), the IMF created currency, UBS said.

China is actively seeking the IMF’s endorsement of the renminbi as an official reserve currency, a designation that requires a currency to be “freely usable”.

Gold rose to a historical peak of $1,921.17 a troy ounce in 2011 before falling sharply to trade at $1,136 today.

“Gold is the same as other commodities and financial assets, the global gold price rises and goes down,” the PBoC said.

“Based on our analysis on gold’s value and price changes, and on the premise of not creating disturbances in the market, we steadily accumulated gold reserves through a number of international and domestic channels.”

China’s purchases were made via assorted domestic refineries, production stockpiles and through trading on domestic and international exchanges, it said.

http://www.cnbc.com/ ( from the FINANCIAL TIMES)

photo by Getty Images

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ELDORADO GOLD SAYS GREEK MINES NOT AFFECTED BY BANK CRISIS

Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corporation says the financial crisis unfolding in Greece isn’t having an impact on its operations in the country.

The company has stakes in three mine sites in the country in Skouries, Olympias or Stratoni, employing roughly 2,000 people.

“Our Greek subsidiaries continue to pay our employees, contractors and suppliers of goods and services in Greece, and abroad, primarily through the issuance of wire transfers in accordance with existing regulations,” the TSX-listed company said in a release.

Eldorado’s Greek assets make up some 40 per cent of the company’s operating net asset value, according to Dan Rollins, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets.

The decision in March by the then newly-elected Greek government to revoke the final construction approval at Eldorado’s Skouries project has weighed on the company’s share price, which is down 20 per cent in the past three months.

CBC News Posted: Jun 30, 2015

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EUROZONE LEADERS ON DEAL WITH GREECE

“Tsipras made a brave choice and the 80 bln euros financing in the next years will offer to the country the possibility of growth, stated French President Francois Hollande after the completion of the EU Summit on Monday (13/7).

“What started today is the negotiation in order Greece to gain access to a new financing programme. Our aim is Greece to become more competitive and to have growth because the debt will not be sustainable without growth.

Greece is a friend country and is in the heart of the European culture. Our duty is to allow Greece to remain in the eurozone” he said referring to the context of the agreement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday that the partners’ intention is to discuss the extension of the debt repayment adding however, that the possibility of a debt haircut is ‘out of the question”, in a press conference after the end of the EU Summit on Greece.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi on Monday at the press conference after the conclusion of the EU Summit on Monday noted “I asked Luxembourg not to be the headquarters of the investments fund because I considered it a humiliation and I stated it with emphasis”.

Renzi also said “after the referendum (in Greece) it was decided the deliberations to continue towards the reaching of an agreement which finally was achieved with everyone’s contribution. The need to invest on growth in order to exit from the crisis remains. We must water Europe’s plant or it will wither” stated the head of the Italian government.

13/7/2015 http://www.newsbomb.gr/en/story/606577/eurozone-leaders-on-deal-with-greece#ixzz3foFLvn9c

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RUSSIAN ENERGY MINISTER: RUSSIA WILLING TO HELP GREECE THROUGH EXPORTS

Russia wishes to contribute in the restructuring of the Greek economy by offering facilitations through direct exports of hydrocarbons, oil and natural gas to Greece, stated Energy Minister of Russia Alexander Novak on Sunday.

He said that “the Russian Federation is willing to support in the restoration of the Greek economy via the broadening of the cooperation in the energy sector. For this reason we examine the possibility of organizing direct exports of energy raw materials to Greece in the immediate future”. Novak also clarified that “we are working on it and we believe that we will reach an agreement within the next weeks.”

Source: AMA/MPA

 By  Anastassios Adamopoulos-

– See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/07/12/russian-energy-minister-russia-willing-to-help-greece-through-exports/#sthash.w4bhkxps.dpuf

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EVALUATION OF GREEK PROPOSALS TO BE COMPLETED ON FRIDAY NIGHT

The institutions received the Greek government’s letter with proposals and prior actions on time, stated a Eurozone official, refusing however to give an estimation on the letter’s context.

According to the same official, the  European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are examining the Greek proposals and will complete their evaluation on Friday night.

The Euro Working Group will convene on Saturday at 11:00 am and a Eurogroup will follow at 4:00 pm.

He also reminded that the institutions will evaluate the Greek government’s request for a new financial aid from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) taking under consideration the Eurozone’s stability, the sustainability of the Greek debt and the real financial needs of the country in the next years.

Moreover, the institutions will evaluate the Greek proposals with the list of prior actions. If a new support program to Greece is decided at Saturday’s Eurogroup then maybe there will be no need for a Euro Summit on Sunday.

Regarding the so-called “bridge-financing” that will cover Greece’s financial needs for the next month, the same official noted that in order to start this discussion, there must be an agreement for the long-term financing of the Greek economy. He also clarified that the ESM treaty does not foresee early disbursements.

(source: ana-mpa)

A.Makris – See more at: http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/07/10/evaluation-of-greek-proposals-to-be-completed-on-friday-night/#sthash.fGeG9c0O.dpuf

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RECLAMATION PHOTO CONTEST ENTRIES SHOWCASE POST-MINING OPPORTUNITIES

This spring, Aggregates Manager put out the call for entries into our second annual photo contest.

The top winner, Lemon Grove, Calif.-based RCP Block & Brick  is a family-owned company that extracts sand to provide material for the manufacture of its core products – concrete masonry units and retaining wall block. Its reclamation plan was approved in 1991 and began in 1994. By working with the local community, the operator was able to restore the native vegetation and streamed along the new Walker Preserve Trail, which is a segment of the larger San Diego River Trail.

Along the reclaimed slopes of the site, the city of Santee installed a public trail with placards that explain how the river once provided the sand necessary for the concrete blocks many area residents have in their homes and schools. The placards also highlight how the site has been reclaimed using native vegetation. Interestingly, this community education is all taking place on the community’s dime, not the operator’s. Considering that this project took place in California, it underscores that a good partnership can build ties in even the most unlikely of places.

That’s the message I hope operators throughout the United States and Canada take away from this contest. Build trust with your local communities. Take their needs into account when considering future use of your property. Foster an environment where each entity helps the other. That is a future plan worth creating.

For more great ideas, check out our photo gallery below.

– See more at: http://www.aggman.com/photos-reclamation-photo-contest-entries-showcase-post-mining-opportunities/#sthash.76Q6qRBB.dpuf

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ELDORADO GOLD TO MAKE PAYROLL DESPITE GREEK TURMOIL

Eldorado Gold (NYSE:EGO) says it will keep paying worker salaries at its Greek mines despite a severe curtailment of financial institutions.

Greece has closed its banks and markets. Tomorrow a 1.6 billion euro (US$1.8 billion) falls due.

Bloomberg asked Eldorado Gold how it will manage operations in the current climate:

“At the moment the capital controls imposed by the Greek government are not having any material impact on our ability to make or receive payments to and from third parties,” Eduardo Moura, Eldorado’s vice-president and general manager for Greece, said in an e-mail.

El Dorado has three mines in Greece: Perama Hill, Skouries and Olympias. The largest mine, Skouries, has a estimated annual production of 140,000 oz of gold and 30,000 tonnes of copper.

This month Eldorado dropped 16% to $4.03.

 

Michael Allan McCrae,  June 29, 2015

http://www.mining.com/eldorado-gold-to-make-payroll-despite-greek-turmoil/

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GREECE VOTES NO: WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Following the Greek Referendum we read an interesting conversation of experts at the Greek Reporter Com. for the days after:

The Greek people have votedsaying a resounding No to the terms of the bailout deal offered by their international creditors. What will this mean for Greece, the euro and the future of the EU?  Here’s what experts say will happens next:

Costas Milas, Professor of Finance, University of Liverpool.

Greek voters have confirmed their support for their prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, who now has the extremely challenging task of renegotiating a “better” deal for his country.

Nevertheless, time is very short. Greece’s economic situation is critical. On July 2, Greek banks reportedly had only €500m in cash reserves. This buffer is not even 0.5% of the €120 billion deposits that Greek citizens have to their names. It is only capital controls preventing Greek banks from collapsing under the strain of withdrawal.

Basic mathematical calculations reveal how desperate the situation is. There are roughly 9.9m registered Greek voters. Assume that – irrespective of whether they voted Yes or No – some 2.8m voters (that is, a very modest 28.2% of the total number of registered voters) decide to withdraw their daily limit of €60 from cash machines on Monday morning. Following this pattern, banks will run out of cash in three days and therefore collapse (note: 3 x 2.8m x 60 ≈ 500m).

There is therefore very little time for the Greek government to strike the deal with their creditors that will instantaneously give the ECB the “green light” to inject additional Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to Greek banks to support their cash buffer and save them from collapse. In other words, Greece does not have the luxury of playing “hard ball” with its creditors. An agreement has to be imminent.

Financial markets, expected to start very nervously on Monday morning, will probably stay relatively calm as the reality of the economic situation spelled out above is more likely than not to lead to some sort of agreement (provided, of course, that Greece’s creditors will listen to Tsipras). Whether this agreement is good for the Greeks, this is an entirely different story.

Richard Holden is Professor of Economics at  UNSW Australia 

By calling this referendum and shutting off negotiations for nearly a week, the Syriza party has brought the Greek banking system very close to insolvency. Greece can’t print euros so Greek banks will soon need to issue IOUs, or the demand for money will not be met, leading to utter chaos. Who will accept these? How will they be valued? These are big, scary questions to which nobody knows the answer.

By voting No, Greece has tied the hands of European Central Bank president Mario Draghi. As a matter of politics there’s not much he can do in the short-term and with Greek banks insolvent he may not be able to do anything simply as a matter of law.

At least one if not all the major Greek banks are likely to fail early this week. When this happens, the Greek economy will essentially come to a halt. Nobody knows what will happen, but it surely won’t be good.

The other depressing consequence of the No vote is that Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis’s promise to resign if his fellow citizens voted Yes will not come about. It has been abundantly clear that Syriza representatives have been miles out of their depth from the time they took office.

Everyone with real knowledge and experience of financial markets and liquidity crises told them to stop playing chicken with the IMF and ECB. They should start listening immediate

George Kyris, Lecturer in International and European Politics, University of Birmingham.

A historic referendum for Greece and Europe tells a very interesting story. While results indicate that a sizeable 61% rejected existing policies towards the Greek crisis, polls have consistently shown that the majority of Greeks want to remain in the eurozone. This exposes the success of Syriza based on its populism, which has allowed Greeks to think that they can stay a credible member of the EU, while at the same time taking unilateral decisions and refusing to recognise the obligations of their eurozone membership.

This not only creates unrealistic expectations but it is also a very sad result for the relationship between the EU and its citizens, which, once again, falls victim to national governments’ short-term strategies. In this climate of unrealistic expectations, the Greek government embarks on a mission impossible to secure a better deal for the country, where economic, political and social peace has been seriously undermined in the past few months and week especially.

The first reactions of Greece’s EU partners to the No vote are far from positive.

In his address after the referendum, Alexis Tsipras indicated the formation of an ad hoc national council with the participation of major political parties to prepare the negotiation strategy. The next few days will show if a more united Greek front is possible and capable of improving things for the crisis-hit country.

Ross Buckley, Professor, Faculty of Law at UNSW Australia

The Greek people have decisively voted No to more austerity imposed from Frankfurt. This is unsurprising. Voters rarely vote for higher taxes and lower pensions. However other polls reveal clearly that the Greek people overwhelmingly also want to retain the Euro. So this is one giant gamble. The Greeks are betting that the potential damage to other countries, especially Spain and Italy, and thus to the very fabric of the Euro, is simply too great for the Eurozone to eject Greece.

When voting on Sunday most Greeks probably felt they were reclaiming control of their own economy. However, paradoxically, the No vote has done the opposite. Greece’s short to medium term economic future is now in the hands of others, particularly Germany and France.

Greek banks today are all but out of Euros. Normally in this situation a nation’s central bank simply prints more currency. Greece can’t do that, as no one country controls production of the Euro. So the options over the next month or so seem to be that either Germany, France and the European Central Bank blink, and extend more credit to Greece, or Greece’s financial system will cease functioning and ultimately it will be forced to print drachma.

 Remy Davison,Jean Monnet Chair in Politics and Economics at Monash University.

With eyes wide shut, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has sent his country to the wall.

The “OXI” voters in Athens last night were in full party mode. But in the cold, harsh light of day, the depressingly-painful hangover begins.

61% of voters will wish they didn’t drink so much of the OXI Kool-Aid. Especially when the realisation hits voters that they can only get €60 out of the ATM. Or €50, as €20 notes are now scarce.

The next hurdle for Athens is ominous. The government has a $3.5 billion repayment due to the ECB in mid-July. Defaulting on the 30 June IMF payment was not as serious as the media made out; the IMF default process is slow and ponderous. Conversely, the ECB controls Greece’s capital lifelines. Its emergency lending assistance (ELA) facility has kept Greek banks liquid up to this point. However, the ECB’s Governing Council and the Eurogroup ministers are unlikely to be sympathetic if Tsipras and Varoufakis attempt to renege on the ECB debt repayments.

A deal will ultimately be struck or Greek banks will not reopen without assistance from the ECB. Europe’s central bank will not refinance Greek banks endlessly, as the absence of capital controls before they were imposed on 29 June saw billions of euro offshored within days.

Tax evasion remains a systemic problem for Greece. A Swiss media source has reported that Athens is quietly offering amnesty from prosecution to Greek tax evaders, who have squirrelled away their euro in Swiss bank accounts, if they pay 21% tax.

A Grexit is still extremely unlikely. If there is one thing that government and opposition parties agree upon, it is that there will be no attempt to depart the eurozone. It is not in Greece’s interest, and there is no legal mechanism with which to do so.

An extra-legal attempt (i.e., outside the EU treaties) by a qualified or absolute majority of EU member governments to vote for Greece’s ejection from the eurozone would result in a Greek application to the European Court of Justice for an injunction. A hearing by the ECJ on an attempt to remove Greece from the eurozone could potentially take two years or more, given the complete absence of precedent and the considerable time and resources required to compile briefs for a case of such complexity. Financial commentators who believe in a high probability of a Grexit are either deluded, or have little comprehension of how the institutional mechanisms and procedures of the EU actually work.

The tragedy is that Tsipras and Varoufakis did not need initiate this crisis, as Greece and the IMF were only $400 million apart in their negotiations before the Greek government walked out. Tspiras and Varoufakis have spun the recent IMF report, which calls for debt restructuring, as somehow supporting their side of the story.

In reality, the IMF has been heavily critical of the Tsipras-Varoufakis government and its unwillingness to undertake the requisite, difficult structural reforms that Greece needs, including further privatisation, industry deregulation and competition policy reform, rigorous taxation restructuring in the Greek merchant shipping industry, and tackling offshore tax evasion. Why a far-left government in Greece wants to help rich Greeks to avoid tax defies logic.

In June, a reasonable compromise may have been reached between Athens and the Eurogroup. But it’s unlikely Euro Area ministers will have much sympathy to spare in the next round of negotiations.

Greeks may have voted with an overwhelming “OXI”, but it’s unlikely they realised they might also be voting for capital controls, insolvent banks and a financial system on the verge of meltdown.

(This article first appeared on The Conversation.)

http://greece.greekreporter.com/2015/07/05/greece-votes-no-experts-respond-what-happens-next

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INVESTMENTS LIKE THOSE MADE BY HELLAS GOLD SHIELD LIQUIDITY

Commenting on his decision to take part in the elections of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece for the appointment of new management, Mr. Michalis Theodorakopoulos, the CEO of Hellas Gold S.A., which operates as a subsidiary of Eldorado Gold – the company that manages the Cassandra mines in northeastern Halkidiki in Greece – said : “Greece needs sound investments to achieve growth, and in this direction Northern Greece has always been a pioneer”, pointing out that: “We are part of the industry and the industrial history of northern Greece, we are part of Greek entrepreneurship and we invest in: regional development, protection of extroversion, liquidity, Greek trade, national economy and industry and formulation of the necessary conditions so that all the above be supported in practice. With consistency and after so many years of investment in the national economy and development, we will make every effort to contribute to the best possible conditions, aiming at the strengthening of the industry and the private sector, the essential support of the primary sector, the transition away from statism syndromes, bureaucracy and demonization of entrepreneurship, the attraction of new investments and therefore the recovery of the national economy through the path of sound productivity”.

With this statement, Mr. Theodorakopoulos, being for thirty years in the Greek industry, explains his decision to take part in the elections of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece for the appointment of new management. At the same time, he analyzes the ultimate symbolism of this decision in relation to the place that Hellas Gold holds in Greek investment and industrial environment and the developmental map of Northern Greece. Mr. Michalis Theodorakopoulos, vice president and CEO of Hellas Gold S.A., was elected to the Board of Directors of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece, in the regular annual general meeting of its members, which was held on Monday, June 22 in Thessaloniki. It should be noted that Mr. Michalis Theodorakopoulos, is a graduate of the National Technical University of Athens as a mining engineer, metallurgist, with experience over 30 years in underground mines, as an engineer responsible for the production, design and development of the worksites, engineering section manager, senior engineer, director of production and director of the Cassandra mines. In January 2015 he was appointed vice president and CEO of Hellas Gold S.A. with direct legal responsibility for the implementation of the investment plan, employing 1,900 workers and investing 400 million dollars with an annual turnover of 100 million dollars, which will increase to 700 million dollars annually after 2017. He has participated in the preparation and supervision of technical and environmental researches in the project of Cassandra mines; he has been a member of the Technical Chamber of Greece since 1987, a member of the Union of Mining and Metallurgical Engineers since 1986 and a member of the Union of Engineers of Greek Industries since 1993.

Meanwhile, Hellas Gold S.A. received the Bronze Award from the Corporate Responsibility Institute (CRI), as a distinction and reward for its activity in Corporate Social Responsibility in the last two years. “This award belongs to 2,000 employees, all residents of Mademohoria, to mining villages and to all Greek engineers that have been active over all these years in this project”, Mr. Theodorakopoulos had stated receiving the award in a splendid ceremony that took place in Goulandris Museum. Specifically, in the context of sustainable and lasting development of the region where the company operates, it promotes social contribution and responsibility actions, as well as employment, which is one of the prime objectives of the company.

EUROECONOMY, 30/06/2015

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THE QUANTITIES OF ZEOLITE REMAIN UNEXPLOITED

The huge amounts of zeolite that exist in the Evros region in northeastern Greece remain unexploited. Zeolite may add to the regional economy approximately 25 billion euros as a raw material and tens of billion as a processed material, according to estimates by the Regional Governor (of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace), George Pavlidis.

The Regional Governor of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, in the workshop held in Alexandroupolis on the exploitation of zeolite of Evros, pointed out the urgent need of amendment of the mining legislation, since huge problems have been generated through almost colonial processes and through bureaucracy that is often insurmountable.

The deputy general director of development of the Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace, Dimitris Mananas, referred in his presentation to the distortions of the current legal framework on the exploitation of mineral wealth in Greece and the need to change the mining code and mining legislation. “The adventure of zeolite in Petrota of the northern Evros lasts 10 years. This means that 10 years have passed since the initial request and the process has not yet been completed. This is due to the distortions of the legal framework, the separation of the mineral wealth in many categories in our country, mainly in ores as well as industrial and construction minerals. The laws are similar, are not completely different, but unfortunately have the same distortions that result in delays and many others”.

From his part, the President of the Technical Chamber of Greece, branch of Thrace, talked about negligence of the respective governments, “which have turned a deaf ear and keep the mining of the precious ore stagnant”.

AGGELIOFOROS, 24/06/2015

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MINING EUROPE IS A GOOD FIT FOR GREECE

During the last years Europe has increased productivity in the exploitation of mineral wealth and makes a strong comeback in the representation and key of the global mining map. Surface and underground extraction of copper in Sweden, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Bulgaria, exploitation of lead, zinc, silver in Greece, Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, gold mines in Romania, Finland, Sweden, Portugal, Spain, UK, production of tungsten in Austria and cobalt in Finland. Iron, chromium, aluminum as well as rare earth metals, gallium, germanium, indium and other major minerals and metals. More than 60 active mines of extraction and exploitation of metallic minerals which operate under specific environmental conditions and related management control of the production process at all levels. All this ongoing investment and productive banquet is not just about financial or speculative reasons, but it takes place mainly to provide continuity to the prospect of social progress, at a time when the needs and uses of raw materials tend to continuously increase, and to ensure effectively quality and environmental protection. Whatever else is said, heard and introduced around catastrophic scenarios and scenes of horror are unrealistic, do not reflect the real situation and obviously serve other interests and expediencies. Greece has unexploited mineral potential in copper, lead, zinc, silver, mostly gold and other metals, which can make it rank first among the mining countries of Europe. So we need a clear mind, transparent procedures and responsible decisions in order not to lose this opportunity of creative initiative and economic growth.

[SOURCE: http://greenminerals.blogspot.gr/, written by Dr. of Geology Nikolaos Arvanitidis]

 

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MUSEUM OF MINING AND METALLURGY OF LAVRIO

The establishment of the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy of Lavrio and the restoration of the archaeological site of Lavrio, which includes the ancient theater of Thoriko and the vaulted tombs of the Mycenaean period, have been launched in the context of synergism between the Ministry of Culture and Attica Prefecture, as stated in the announcement made by the Prefecture.  The preservation of monuments at risk but also the wider advancement of the archaeological site and its connection to the rest cultural sites of Lavrio were issues of concern to the Alternate Minister of Culture, Mr. Nikos Xydakis, and the Prefect of Attica, Ms. Rena Dourou, during their yesterday’s visit to the site and the meeting held at the Lavrion Technological and Cultural Park, where they discussed the issue of the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy. As pointed out by the Prefect of Attica, the effective synergism (repatriation of Hermes head) continues with the establishment of the Museum of Mining and Metallurgy of Lavrio through a programme contract funded by the Prefecture of Attica in cooperation with the National Technical University of Athens and the Ministry of Culture.

AVGI, 23/06/2015

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GREEK MINING COMPANIES: THE PROS AND CONS IN 2015

The year 2015 is expected to bring similar results with the previous fiscal year in the mineral resources sector in Greece, mutatis mutandis, in accordance with the assessment of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association.

This year proceeds with a pent-up demand, limited fall of prices and striking differences across markets (EU, US, Asia). These data are not good, but a balance is achieved through advantages, such should be considered the decline in the euro-dollar exchange rate, the fall in oil prices and the significant drop in ocean freight rates, which influence the rates of exportable products.   However, low freight rates enable the sales increase in low-cost producers as well, thus intensifying competition. On the other hand, there are many outstanding issues within the country, such as the full implementation of the national policy for the exploitation of mineral resources, the horizontal integration of national policy guidelines for the mineral wealth in all individual policies and planning and the drawing up of special spatial planning for its mineral wealth. What is more, many other issues remain unresolved such as the provision of information to local communities about the importance of mining industry to regional development, the promotion of new investments through tenders of allocation of available public mining concessions, the law codification on mining activities, as well as the operation of the constituted forum for the implementation of the national policy. Furthermore, the mining companies are waiting for the adoption of the new draft Quarry Bill and the support of the industry through the Development Law.

Production, Investment and Business Practice: The mining industry, cumulatively the years 2009-2014, in the midst of the economic crisis, has a total turnover of 15 billion over the whole six years. At the same time it has invested in research and development of products an amount that exceeds 100,000,000 euros. Moreover, during these years it has made investments of more than 2 billion in new projects, new equipment, and modernization of production and waste management methods or recovery of by-products.  The key business activities include also the reinstatement and restoration of the environment in the mining site when mining activity has ended. In this context, according to figures provided by the Greek Mining Enterprises Association, 3 million trees have been planted and 79 million euros have been spent in restoration, maintenance and care of restored sites from 2007 to 2014. Specifically, based on data of 25 member companies of the Greek Mining Enterprises Association, the production of ores, industrial minerals, product of the mechanical enrichment processing, metallurgical products and marbles went in most cases up. At the same time, there have been significant changes in major categories of metals.

 

 

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MICHALIS THEODORAKOPOULOS: “IN GREECE, ENTREPRENEURSHIP HAS BEEN DEMONIZED”

The CEO of Hellas Gold – subsidiary of EL Dorado Gold-, operating at the mines of Northeastern Chalkidiki in Greece, Mr. Michalis Theodorakopoulos gave an interview to the radio station of Thessaloniki “Focus 103.6” and journalist Dimitris Venieris on the occasion of his candidature in the elections of the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece.

Inevitably at some point the conversation led to the investment of Hellas Gold in Northeastern Halkidiki. Mr. Theodorakopoulos talked about some very interesting issues in the interview, such as the demand for labour in the mines, which has reached 7,000 applications, his satisfaction that the Minister Productive Reconstruction Mr. Lafazanis included in his requirements – apart from the protection of the environment and public interest – the investor’s profit, and the obvious fact that the strength of the private sector favours the public sector, and many more…

But when he started talking with figures the truth emerged, as numbers answer to those who claim that the company does not pay taxes and the state does not benefit from the presence of El Dorado in Greece:

  • From the average of 45,000 Euros corresponding to the cost of each worker for the company, half go to the State in the form of taxes and contributions.
  • Every year 30 million Euros goes to the State as insurance contributions.
  • Every year 30% of the turnover is returned to the State in taxes, regardless of whether the company has profits or losses. Today the turnover amounts to 100 million Euros and the full development of the project is projected to reach 800 million Euros. We are talking about 240 million Euros per year going to the state!!!
  • 300-400 million Euros per year are planned to be invested for the next 2-3 years.
  • According to the most optimistic predictions the first gold will be mined in 2022 and it will continue for another 23 years. We are talking about a 30 year investment.
  • According to the investment plan 20 million Euros per month are expected to be invested and because of the bureaucratic setbacks this amount has been reduced to 9 million Euros.

Another point stressed by Mr. Theodorakopoulos is that  El Dorado essentially made its appearance in 2012 to invest in an idea of ​​Greek engineers since 2005, concerning the exploitation of the national mineral wealth.

Regarding the controversial issue of the environment, the CEO of Hellas Gold reiterated that the Environmental Impact Study that has gone through appeals to the Council of State follows the European legislation which is much stricter than that of North America.

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THE LOSSES OF ELDORADO GOLD & THE CONSEQUENCES ON THE GREEK MARKET

The involvement of the company Hellas Gold – subsidiary of EL Dorado Gold – in the gold mine project in Skouries Chalkidiki, Greece, resulted in not one, but two big losers. So far, all the attention has focused on stock losses recorded by the Canadian group of El Dorado Gold, as the share which it is trading in the market of Toronto (and in Wall Street) has lost 26.5% of its value since the beginning of the year. The plunge of the stock created a domino effect as it took its toll on the financial figures of the Greek group of Ellaktor, participator of Hellas Gold, where the business interests of Bobolas famiy are expressed. Indeed, the losses exhibited in the first quarter of this year by Ellaktor (12.3 million Euros) are almost entirely due to the decline of the El Dorado Gold stock. This is because the Greek group owns 1.1% of the Canadian company, while at the same time it also owns 5% of Hellas Gold that operates in Skouries. It is significant that at the end of 2004, the participation of Ellaktor in El Dorado Gold was valued at 77.342 million Euros. In the end, however, of last March, the value of this shareholding was forfeited to 64.97 million Euros, thus creating a financial hole of 12.372 million Euros in the financial data of Ellaktor for the first quarter of the year. It is evident, however, that the adventure for the Bobolas group does not end here, as the share of El Dorado is continuing its descent thus increasing the negative impact on the accounts of Ellaktor. This is because at this moment the participation value has gone down to 57.4 million Euros. That is, the Bobolas group has lost 7.6 million Euros more. The downfall for the stock market course of El Dorado came after the intervention of the Minister of Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Mr. Lafazanis and the new government policy which was against the project of gold mining. At the beginning of this year, the stock of El Dorado was at 7.8 Canadian Dollars, while now it is at 5.20. At the same time, the market value of the Canadian company has decreased by 2 billion Euros.

DEAL NEWS, 19/06/2015

 

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GREECE-RUSSIA SIGN MEMORANDUM OF COOPERATION FOR NATURAL GAS PIPELINE PROJECT

Greek and Russian authorities on Friday signed a memorandum of cooperation for the construction of a “South European Pipeline”, beginning in 2016 and scheduled to be completed in 2019.

The memorandum, signed in St Petersburg by Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment and Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, envisages that the company which will build and operate the project will be equally owned (50-50) between Greece and Russia, while the Russian side will offer funding facilities using future revenues from the project as collateral.

Lafazanis also signed a joint declaration for the support of the project with the president of Vnesheconombank–VEB, Vladimir Dimitriev.

The memorandum, characterized as “of historic significance” by the Greek ministry, underlines –among others- the need to strengthen European energy security through the divergence of natural gas routes to European markets, safeguarding supply stability of Greece with natural gas from Russia and the ability of transporting natural gas towards third countries.

For the construction of the project, a special purpose company will be set up (50-50), while new shareholders will be able to participate following agreement. Greece will be represented by Public Enterprise of Energy Investments, soon to be set up.

The pipeline will have a transport capacity of 47 billion cubic metres of gas annually. Greece and Russia also pledged to facilitate the special purpose company so that “third parties to be named by the Russian founder to pledge up to 100 pct of the pipeline’s capacity for natural gas supplies which will be transported through Greece”. Also, Greece will offer all legal support to issue all necessary licenses and the interconnection of the pipeline with the Greek natural gas transmission system and third countries’ systems.

The natural gas pipeline system, currently designed, will by-pass Ukraine, through the Black Sea, through Turkey and Greece, towards Europe.

19-6-2015 http://www.newsbomb.gr/en

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GIVING BACK

In 2011, the Indonesian government was given the task of transforming 443ha of revegetated land from a former mine site into a botanical garden and the country’s first-ever carbon absorption project

GARY PETERS looks into the project’s challenges and potential benefits

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In use since 1996, the former PT Newmont Minahasa Raya-operated (PTNMR) mine site, located in the Mesel gold mine area, has changed beyond all recognition. Once mineral extraction ceased in 2001, when mineable economic gold deposits became depleted, PTNMR – a joint venture between the Newmont Mining Corporation located in Denver, US, and PT Tanjung Serapung in Indonesia – sat about putting its reclamation project into practice.

PTNMR’s closure plan was submitted to the government in March 2002 and approved in December of the same year, with mineral processes continuing until 2004. Closure activities were eventually completed in 2006 and PTNMR’s monitoring lasted until 2010.

The site was one of the first large-scale mines in Indonesia to close and reforestation started with 155,814 tree and fruit crops planted on 20Oha of reclaimed land.

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A MAGNET FOR TOURISM

The project has involved the Indonesian Department of Forestry, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, the University of Sam Ratulangi, the North Sulawesi Sustainable Development Foundation and other local constituents through a collaborative process.

The trees planted – mahogany, teak, nyatoh and sengon – were based on a multi-purpose tree species system and are part of larger reclamation works to return the site to its original purpose and create a botanical garden that acts as a magnet for tourism, providing both economic and environmental benefits.

According to figures released by the Forestry Department of North Sulawesi, reclamation success rates have reached 92.82%, around 12% higher than the government’s standard. “The success of the reclamation at Minahasa is reflected in the fact that Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry designated 221 hectares of the reforested mine site as a botanical garden,” says Omar Jabara, group executive of corporate communications at Newmont Mining.

Jabara believes that the project demonstrates how “mines can be discovered, operated and closed responsibly”, but admits that gaining approval for the garden – granted in 2014 – was a complicated process. “Seeking botanical garden designation is a long and arduous process, requiring approvals and endorsement from various local governments, as well as research and analysis to assess a botanical garden’s potential social, economic and environmental impacts.”

Scheduled for completion in five to seven years, it will, says Jabara, “be a tourist destination for thousands of regional and international visitors annually and, through entrance fees and taxes, will contribute to regional revenue”.

“Both the reclaimed forest and botanical garden have the potential to create positive economic and environmental conditions for local inhabitants,” he says. “In addition, the site’s botanical garden designation ensures [that] the habitats of hundreds of species of plants, birds, insects and other animals will be protected.”

Looking forward, it is hoped that this diversity of species will enable the reclaimed forest and garden to become areas for environmental research and education, acting as outdoor classrooms and laboratories.