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

Read more

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

Read more

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

 

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

 

 

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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]

 

 

Read more

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

Read more