Eldorado Gold Enters Constructive Dialogue with Greek Government

VANCOUVER, Sept. 21, 2017 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado”, “the Company” or “we”) today announced that it has entered into constructive dialogue with Greece’sMinistry of Energy and Environment (“MoE”) in respect to the development of the Company’s subsidiary, Hellas Gold S.A.’s, Kassandra Mine assets in Halkidiki, Northern Greece.  The Kassandra assets, which include the Skouries and Olympias projects and the Stratoni mine, were permitted under one single Environment Impact Study (“EIS”) approved in 2011 by the Greek State.

George Burns, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado, commented: “We are very pleased with the constructive dialogue that is underway with the Ministry of Energy and Environment.  Furthermore, last week the Ministry issued a number of long overdue routine permits for our Olympias project.  As a result of these developments we have decided to temporarily postpone our decision to place our assets in Halkidiki on care and maintenance.”

Mr. Burns concluded: “We preserve the right to place our assets on care and maintenance and to take prompt legal action to protect the Company and its assets in Greece should our dialogue with the Ministry of Energy and Environment prove unsuccessful.  At the same time, we remain confident that the arbitration process initiated last week by the Greek government will be concluded in a timely and efficient manner, for the benefit of all stakeholders.”

 

source:eldoradogold.com

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Eldorado Gold Announces Greece Update

VANCOUVER, Sept. 13, 2017 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado” or the “Company”) confirms that it has today received the Olympias Operating Permit and the modified Electromechanical Installation Permit for the tailings management facility at Kokkinolakkas from the Ministry of Energy and Environment.  The Olympias Operating Permit is valid for a period of three years from the date of issue.

At this time, remaining outstanding is:

  • approval of the Technical Study for the old Olympias Mine closure and the Installation permits for the paste plants at Olympias; and
  • the amended Electromechanical Installation permit for the Skouries flotation plant,

as well as other matters including, but not limited to, the relocation of antiquities at the Skouries site.

The Company is also awaiting additional detail from the Greek Government regarding the pending arbitration process, which the government has publicly indicated that formal notification will be issued on 15 September, 2017.  Eldorado is confident that any potential arbitration will again demonstrate the Company’s adherence to all applicable laws and regulations.

Upon approval and receipt of all the required permits, clarity around the arbitration process and a supportive government open to discussions surrounding the use and implementation of best available technologies, the Company will then be in a position to re-assess its investment options in Greece.

George Burns, President and CEO for Eldorado Gold said: “This is a positive step forward; however, we are still waiting on other permits. Open dialogue with the Government would be the Company’s preference rather than legal recourse and arbitration but we are confident that any potential arbitration will again demonstrate Eldorado’s adherence to all applicable laws and regulations and its commitment to developing its Greek assets safely, responsibly and with utmost care for the environment.”

 

source: eldoradogold.com

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Greece’s Syriza revives radical policies in effort to placate base

“Eldorado Gold, facing the threat of a lengthy arbitration process with the government over permits to complete a gold-mining and processing plant at Skouries in northern Greece, warns that 1,200 jobs are at stake in an area of high unemployment. Production at Skouries was due to start this year but has now been pushed back to 2020”

After the reforms came the backlash.
Greece’s cabinet may be focused on implementing economic reforms agreed in return for an €86bn third international bailout but the government has also revived some of its radical polices in an effort to placate its core supporters, fearful that the leftwing party has gone soft under pressure from the bailout monitors.
 
Measures adopted last month by the Syriza government of Alexis Tsipras, prime minister, take aim at the party’s traditional enemies: high-earning lawyers and doctors, foreign-trained academics and private investors from abroad.
 
A tax squeeze on Greek professionals is being tightened, new legislation on universities rolls back reforms aimed at boosting academic standards, and the authorities are further delaying a €1.5bn gold extraction project by Canada’s Eldorado Gold, the country’s largest foreign investor.
 
Meanwhile, self-described anarchists with links to Syriza’s far-left faction have staged attacks on business premises and public buildings, smashing windows and throwing paint in scenes that recalled street protests early in the Greek crisis. Police made only a few arrests, and no case has so far come to court.
 
Nikos Voutsis, parliamentary speaker, shrugged off an incident last month in which members of Rubicon, an anarchist group, forced their way into the main courtyard of parliament demanding the release of a convicted terrorist. “Where violence [against persons] isn’t involved such events should be handled with tolerance,” Mr Voutsis said.
 
Analysts say the Syriza government is keen to reclaim its leftwing credentials after successfully completing a second bailout review, winning praise from its creditors, the EU and the International Monetary Fund, and securing the disbursement of a much-needed €8.5bn aid tranche.
 
In a move that underlined recovering confidence in Greece’s prospects, Athens returned to the sovereign debt market in July for the first time in three years with a €3bn bond issue. The economy is set to grow this year by 1.5 per cent, its best performance since 2007.
 
As part of the bailout terms, the government also agreed to implement a drastic reduction in the income tax threshold next year and make additional cuts to pensions, which have shrunk by 50 per cent during the crisis. These moves have helped bolster support for the opposition. In opinion polls, the conservative New Democracy party holds a double-digit lead over Syriza. “It’s become important for Syriza to remind its constituency that it still has a radical activist agenda, that it hasn’t gone soft under pressure from the bailout monitors,” says Professor Aris Hatzis, a University of Athens law professor and political commentator.
 
The new measures, while disruptive, appear to have been chosen with the aim of avoiding strong negative reaction from the EU and International Monetary Fund experts that oversee the reform programme, Prof Hatzis added. “They’re all in areas that aren’t exactly priorities for the creditors, at least in the short term.”
 
Earlier this year, the finance ministry imposed new regulations on Greek professionals, who are accused of being chronic tax evaders. These included paying a full year’s income tax in advance and making significantly higher social security contributions.
 
Under the provisions, the measures were backdated to 2015 in a move that would make lawyers, doctors and business consultants earning more than €75,000 a year pay more than 70 per cent of their annual income in taxes and social security. Some professionals doubt whether such high levies, seen by many as a punishment for laxity shown by previous governments, can be sustained.
 
“The market for legal services has shrunk significantly during the recession and so have lawyers’ pensions,” said Evangelos Kalafatis, a tax lawyer. “If these new taxes aren’t rationalised, working will no longer be attractive to many senior members of the profession.”
 
Greek academics say they are bitterly disappointed by a new law that reverses a 2011 reform of the university system, which passed by an overwhelming parliamentary majority. Students will again be allowed to postpone sitting final examinations indefinitely, and will also have voting rights at elections of university administrators.
 
The law also provides incentives for professors to spend their entire careers in one local institution, bans fee-based postgraduate courses taught in English that would attract foreign students and restores university “asylum” which prevents the police from entering a university campus.
 
“It’s a huge setback,” said Anna Diamantopoulou, a former EU commissioner who pushed through the law while serving as education minister. “We modernised university education and made it international . . . Now the universities will again be a battleground for domestic politics and those who can will go abroad to study.”
 
Eldorado Gold, facing the threat of a lengthy arbitration process with the government over permits to complete a gold-mining and processing plant at Skouries in northern Greece, warns that 1,200 jobs are at stake in an area of high unemployment. Production at Skouries was due to start this year but has now been pushed back to 2020.
 
“The key issue for Greece is that the benefits from these investments should have accrued already,” said George Burns, Eldorado’s chief executive.
 
Eldorado’s travails in Greece are often cited as a disincentive for investors worried about bureaucratic delays and the country’s tangled legal system. While Syriza lawmakers from the Skouries region claim that goldmining will cause irreversible environmental damage, the company’s proposals for the project have been upheld in 18 cases heard by expert judges at the council of state, Greece’s highest administrative court.
 
source:  The Financial Times Limited 2017, 29/8/2017 Kerin Hope, Athens
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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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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 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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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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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 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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