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