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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Eldorado Gold Announces Amended Investment Plans in Greece

TSX: ELD NYSE: EGO                                                                          

VANCOUVER, Sept. 11, 2017 /CNW/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado” or the “Company”) today announces plans to suspend investment at its operating mines, development projects and exploration assets in Greece.

Despite repeated attempts by Eldorado and its Greek subsidiary, Hellas Gold, to engage constructively with the Greek government, the Ministry of Energy and Environment (the “Ministry”) and other government agencies, delays continue in issuing routine permits and licences for the construction and development of the Skouries and Olympias projects in Halkidiki, northern Greece. These permitting delays have negatively impacted Eldorado’s project schedules and costs, ultimately hindering the Company’s ability to effectively advance development and operation of these assets.

With the exception of a care and maintenance program and necessary environmental safeguarding costs, Eldorado and its Board of Directors have decided that under present conditions no additional investment will be made into the Kassandra Mines (Olympias, Skouries, Stratoni) in Halkidiki, the Perama Hill and Sapes projects in Thrace, and any exploration activity in the country.  Funds that were budgeted to be invested into community spending and infrastructure development will be phased out.  Similarly, tax revenues at the municipal, regional and national levels will also be affected.

Actions will be taken to place the Skouries and Olympias projects and the Stratoni mine on care and maintenance starting on September 22, 2017.  Suspension and termination of contractors and employees will be done in accordance with applicable labour regulations in Greece.  Environmental protection works and care and maintenance activities will continue in order to safeguard the environment and the assets. The Company estimates that a total of US$30 million will be spent to prepare for care and maintenance activities, with sustaining maintenance costs of approximately US$25 million annually.

The Company is also awaiting additional detail from the Greek government regarding the pending arbitration process.  Eldorado has not yet received formal notification of arbitration but is confident that any potential arbitration will again demonstrate the Company’s adherence to all applicable laws and regulations.  The Council of State (Greece’s highest court on environmental and administrative matters) has repeatedly confirmed the legitimacy of our permits and actions with 18 decisions in the Company’s favour.

The Company would re-assess its investment options in Greece upon approval and receipt of the required permits, coupled with a supportive government open to discussions surrounding the use and implementation of best available technologies.

George Burns, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado Gold, commented:

“It is extremely unfortunate to find ourselves at this impasse when we should be advancing an important commercial project in partnership with Greece and adding another 1,200 jobs to our current workforce of approximately 2,400 people in Greece.  Eldorado’s investment in Greece is about building a world-class operation that can exist as a long-term partner to Greece and has the ability to promote advanced skills and training for its people and deliver well-paying jobs to sustain families and local businesses.  Of equal importance, as a commercial partner, this business can provide much-needed tax and export revenue for generations.”

“Eldorado has been a committed, responsible and patient partner to the Greek government and the people of Greece.  Since acquiring the Kassandra Mines for nearly $2 billion in 2012, Eldorado has invested an additional $1 billion in the country.  That figure would double if Eldorado were able to fully develop its Olympias, Skouries and Perama Hill assets.  However, as a result of the delay in issuing permits by the Greek government, Eldorado is unable to continue investing in the country.  We have a responsibility to our shareholders to allocate capital to projects not only with the best rates of return, but also in locations where host governments are supportive of our investment and work with us to grow a sustainable future.  As such, Eldorado cannot continue to put capital at risk without these permits and will pursue all avenues to advance its investment and contractual rights.”

“Should the Greek government wish to work within the framework of its contractual obligations with Hellas Gold, issue permits in a timely manner and support the investment, Eldorado will then be in a position to re-evaluate its investment plans in the country.”

Skouries Project (Halkidiki)

Construction and development activities at the Skouries project, with over $350 million invested to-date and a current workforce of 530 people including contractors, will be suspended effective September 22, 2017. 

Olympias Project (Halkidiki)

The refurbished Olympias processing plant is close to completing the commissioning phase and commercial production from Phase 2 was planned during the fourth quarter 2017.  Current headcount at Olympias is approximately 950 people including contractors.  Commissioning work and further development activity will be suspended effective September 22, 2017.  To date, Eldorado has invested over $400 million at Olympias. 

Stratoni Mine (Halkidiki)

The Stratoni Mine currently employs approximately 830 people including contractors and had a life of mine of approximately one year based on known proven and probable reserves at the beginning of 2017.  Geological potential exists to expand resources and extend mine life and Eldorado is currently undertaking a drilling campaign to test the lower portion of the Mavres Petres orebody.  Additional investment would be required over the next two years to further delineate additional resources. All mining operations and exploration activities will be suspended effective September 22, 2017.

Perama Hill and Sapes Projects (Thrace)

Perama Hill and Sapes are currently on care and maintenance pending approvals by the Ministry of Energy and the Environment for Perama Hill’s Environmental Impact Study and for Sapes’s drilling permit, both of which have been pending for over three years. 

Press Conference

George Burns, President & CEO of Eldorado Gold will host a press conference at the Athens Hilton Hotel today, September 11, 2017 at 11:00 AM local time (GMT+2) to discuss Eldorado’s amended investment plans in Greece.  His speech will be available shortly after the press conference at www.eldoradogold.com. 

Conference Call

George Burns will host a conference call today, September 11, 2017 at 8:00 AM ET (5:00 AM PT) to discuss Eldorado’s amended investment plans in Greece.  The call will be webcast and can be accessed at www.eldoradogold.com.

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Eldorado mine arbitration to start in September

Greece plans to start an arbitration process this month to settle its differences with Canada’s Eldorado Gold Corp over its gold mine development plans in northern Greece, its energy minister said on Thursday.

Greece had previously planned to start the process last month. “We have decided to resort to arbitration to stop the tug of war which has been going on for many years and have things cleared up,” Energy Minister Giorgos Stathakis told Greek state television.

Stathakis said the arbitration process will begin on September 15 and will last three months. Eldorado is developing the Skouries and Olympias projects in northern Greece, where it also operates the Stratoni mine. Skouries has been a particular flash point with the authorities, with differences lasting for years over testing methods applied to comply with environmental regulations. [Reuters]

source: ekathimerini.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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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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Two years of labour peace at the Cassandra Mines

Despite the current economic circumstances, Hellas Gold ensures stability in wages and provides additional public holidays

After negotiations, the company Hellas Gold SA and two business associations [a) Association of Technicians and Employees of the companies Aktor SA- Hellas Gold “Agia Varvara” and b) Professional Association of Miners in the Underground Cassandra Mines in Halkidiki] agreed upon labour peace for the biennium 2016-2017..

The agreement which was signed on 01.02.2016 provides for the stabilization of the existing wages at the level of 31.12.2015, which is the expiration date of the first corporate collective agreement, as well as the maintenance of automatic salary increases due to maturation. There are also provisions for marriage, special circumstances and seniority benefits. In addition to this the following days were introduced as additional public holidays: January 1, January 6, Clean Monday, Holy Friday, December 4 and December 26, beside the official public holidays. Finally it was agreed that those who are entitled to full retirement due to old age can receive 100% of the authorized compensation in case of termination.

It should be noted that the minimum gross monthly wage for unskilled workers working  above ground amounts to €999, while for those working below ground it amounts to 1,215€.

It is worth adding that although the company had to suspend its work in the Skouries region due to delays in the issuance of “routine” licenses, it actively reinforces the efforts for peace within its labour force with its stance.

The CEO of the company Mr. Michalis Theodorakopoulos said: “The signing of the Corporate Agreement is a particularly important step for the company’s relationships with its employees and is the result of mutual trust and constant cooperation with the business associations in a particularly difficult economic environment where most companies are forced to perform pay cuts”. Mr. Theodorakopoulos also said that there are efforts being made for the prompt and effective resolution of any occurring issues.

 

SOURCE: Hellas Gold

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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

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Eldorado Gold Announces Amended Investment Plans in Greece

VANCOUVER , Jan. 11, 2016 /PRNewswire/ – Eldorado Gold Corporation (“Eldorado” or the “Company”) confirms that it will implement significant changes to its investment plans in Greece going forward.
In order to complete the construction and development of its mining projects (the “Kassandra Mines”) in Halkidiki, northern Greece , Hellas Gold , a Greek 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 Energy and Environment (the “Ministry”).
Hellas Gold received approval for its Environmental Impact Study in 2011, yet 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. In addition, during 2015, the Ministry revoked or suspended certain permits of Hellas Gold ( news releases dated: March 2, 2015 & August 19, 2015 ), which has had a negative impact on the Company’s schedule and budget to develop its assets.
Hellas Gold has been forced to seek remedy in the courts of law in order to address these permitting delays and various court decisions have been made in the Company’s favour, and others remain outstanding. A building permit, that would allow Hellas Gold to complete the construction of the Skouries processing plant, has been delayed for over three years.
Hellas Gold is presently unable to complete its 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, which is not only a legal responsibility, but also a contractual obligation of the Greek State.
Skouries Project (Halkidiki)
Construction and development activities at the Skouries Project (with over US$300 million invested to-date), will be suspended. Environmental protection works and care and maintenance activities will continue to be performed in order to safeguard the environment and the assets of the Company at site at a cost of approximately US$1 million per month.
Olympias Project (Halkidiki)
As part of Phase 2 of the Olympias Project , the underground mine is being readied to produce ore at a mining rate of approximately 385,000 tonnes per year. As of the first quarter 2017, ore from the mine will then be treated at the Olympias mill, where refurbishment at a cost of approximately US$55 million is expected to be completed in 2016. However, refurbishment plans are dependent on the Ministry granting the required installation permit. In December 2015 , Hellas Gold submitted all necessary documentation to the Ministry required to obtain this permit, which must be granted within 60 days from the time of submission according to the Greek mining regulations. Should the Ministry fail to issue the installation permit by the end of the first quarter 2016, Hellas Gold will also be forced to suspend all construction and development activities at its Olympias Project . There are currently approximately 500 people working on the Olympias Project .
Stratoni Mine (Halkidiki)
The Stratoni Mine currently has a life of mine of approximately three years based on the known proven and probable reserves. Geological potential exists to expand resources 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 US$25 million over the next three years, assuming timely issuance of any permits that may be required.
Eldorado is currently evaluating the merits of implementing this programme in light of the current investment climate in Greece .
Perama Hill and Sapes Projects (Thrace)
Approvals by the Ministry for the Perama Hill Project’s Environmental Impact Study and for a drilling permit required at the Sapes Project in Thrace, northeastern Greece , have been pending for over two years. The Company has decided to put both projects on care and maintenance with expenditures being kept at the minimum level required to preserve the title and rights to both projects.
Paul N. Wright , President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado Gold , commented:
“Eldorado Gold has been, and remains, a committed, responsible and patient partner to the Greek government and to the people of the communities in which we operate. The projects have considerable potential with demonstrated economic and social benefits. At this time, we would instead prefer to be creating additional employment in Greece and advancing the construction and development of our Skouries and Olympias Projects in Halkidiki, as well as our assets in Thrace. However, we have a duty to all our stakeholders and the significant time and process risks created by Greece ‘s Ministry of Energy and Environment have left us with no choice but to reduce activities and personnel.
Since 2012, we have created approximately 2,000 direct jobs in the country and invested in excess of US$700 million towards development of the Skouries and Olympias projects – including tax payments in excess of €120 million to the Greek government. In Halkidiki, we have the support of the vast majority of the local stakeholders. Furthermore, we have had numerous decisions of the Council of State , Greece ‘s Supreme Court on administrative and environmental matters, confirming the integrity of our permits. However, since the beginning of 2015, the Ministry has adopted an openly confrontational attitude towards our business and investments, which has had a detrimental impact on our schedule and budget to develop our mineral assets in Halkidiki.
We have operated in good faith and Hellas Gold has complied with all of its contractual obligations, but given the adverse circumstances mentioned above, it is prudent to reduce our capital allocation to Greece at this time. We wish to recommence the suspended activities and our investment plans in Greece upon the timely issuance of the necessary permits and the establishment of a truly collaborative partnership, within the framework of the contractual obligations between Hellas Gold and the Greek State.”
2016 Guidance Release Date
Eldorado will provide additional capital and operational figures for its Greek assets during disclosure of its 2015 Operating Results and 2016 Guidance, which will be issued on January 25, 2016 .
Press Conference
Paul Wright and senior management from Hellas Gold will host a press conference at the Athens Hilton Hotel on Tuesday, January 12, 2015 at 11:00 AM local time (GMT+2) to discuss Eldorado’s amended investment plans in Greece . Paul’s speech will be available shortly after the press conference at www.eldoradogold.com .
Conference Call
Paul Wright will host a conference call on Tuesday, January 12, 2015 at 8:00 AM ET ( 5:00 AM PT ) to discuss Eldorado’s amended investment plans in Greece. The call will be webcast and can be accessed at www.eldoradogold.com .
Participants may join the call by dialing toll-free: 1 888 231 8191 or 647 427 7450. A replay will be available until January 19, 2015 by dialing toll-free: 1 855 859 2056 or 416 849 0833 (pass code 2437 9146).

SOURCE: Eldorado Gold Corporation

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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]

 

 

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