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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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 “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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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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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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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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