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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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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