Council of State reportedly overrules Greek Energy Minister’s stoppage of Mining in Northern Greece

The Council of State (CoS), Greece ’s highest administrative court, on Monday abrogated a ministerial decision by former productive reconstruction, environment and energy minister Panos Skourletis to revoke the operating license of the Hellas Gold mining company in Halkidiki prefecture of northern Greece, according to sources.

However, responding later to the report, the president of the CoS said the final decision has not been issued yet. “On the case of Hellas Gold … no decisions have been issued yet. The conference on these cases has not been completed. Any other report does not reflect reality,” Nikolaos Sakellariou said in a statement.

Revocation of the gold mining license was based on the fact that the company did not conduct tests on deposits from the Olympiada and Skouries sites on its premises, but rather at a facility in Finland. The CoS ruled that this was not justification enough for revoking the license. The publication of the ruling is pending. The ministerial decision was announced in September.

Hellas Gold is a subsidiary of Canadian multinational Eldorado Gold.
(Source: ANA-MPA)

By Anastassios Adamopoulos – Nov 3, 2015,

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Greek State Council suspends Skourletis’ decision to close Skouries Mine

The Council of State temporarily suspended the decision of Greek former Productive Reconstruction Minister Panos Skourletis (August 19, 2015), which recalled the decision that approved the engineering design of the mining facilities in Skouries, as submitted by Hellas Gold, claiming that the design violated the technical studies’ terms.

In particular, the Council of State Suspensions Department ordered the suspension Skourletis decision, until the issuing of a final decision regarding the main action which was discussed today in the Council of State plenary.

The council member weighed the harm that the mine workers claim to have experienced and the public interest invoked by the Greek government and eventually decided on the decision’s suspension.

By Ioanna Zikakou – Oct 2,

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CEO: Eldorado Gold aims to resolve mining issues with Greek Government

The chief executive of Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD; NYSE: EGO) said the company wants to build a better relationship with the government of Greece to resolve issues over plans to mine gold in the country, rather than just relying on the courts.

The country’s leftist government last month said it was revoking a permit for technical studies for a $1 billion project, alleging that Eldorado violated contractual terms over technical studies. Eldorado’s Greek subsidiary, Hellas Gold S.A., suspended operations during a legal challenge. The suspension affected the Stratoni Mine as well as the Skouries and Olympias projects.

“I am quietly optimistic that we will get there with the government. But if we don’t, then we’re going to have to take alternative action,” said Paul Wright, chief executive officer of Eldorado, during an appearance at the Denver Gold Forum Tuesday.

If the differences cannot be resolved, the company cannot continue investing in the country, he suggested.

“Our expectation is we will again prevail, as we have done now on 13 separate occasions in rulings by the Council of State,” Wright said. “However, our challenge in Greece is to get to a much better place as it relates to the relationship with a government of the country that is truly collaborative and recognizes the value of this investment to the country. We look forward to further engagement when the new government is formed in the next couple of days.”

The party of Alexis Tsipras, who was prime minister, was re-elected over the weekend.

The company is developing the Skouries and Olympicas projects. Eldorado has spent $450 million on the projects since 2012 and has over 2,000 direct employees. Eldorado estimates that it would pay $1 billion in direct taxes to the Greek government in the next 20 years.

Eldorado is seeking injunctive relief, which the court deferred until after the election. A decision could come as early as this week, Wright said. Meanwhile, a court hearing on the main issue – the government’s decision to recall Eldorado’s permit — is set for Oct. 2.

Wright was asked if Eldorado would resume work right away if it prevails in the court system.

“Our approach to this will be to put people back to work if we are legally entitled to,” Wright answered. “But I just want to emphasize for us, it’s not about the legality. It is about the model of not having a supportive government that just doesn’t work for us.”

He pointed out that the mining issue was the No. 3 topic of debate going into the Greek elections, with many candidates expressing support for mining investment in the country. Allen Sykora of Kitco News;

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Hellas Gold takes action against ex-minister Skourletis

Hellas Gold and four unions representing workers at the Halkidiki mines it manages on behalf of Canadian giant Eldorado took legal action on Friday against the recent ministerial decision that led to the suspension of work at the sites.

Hellas Gold argues in the complaint filed at the Council of State that the decision taken on August 19 by then energy minister Panos Skourletis (photo) to suspend the technical study for the mines’ processing plant went against the Greek Constitution.

The company says the Greek government’s decision to put the project on ice violated the principles of good administration and the separation of the judicial and executive powers.

The firm and the unions, which represent some 2,000 miners, argue that Skourletis’s decision should be suspended, allowing work at the Skouries and Olympiada sites to continue.

BUSINESS 28.08.2015 ,

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Vindication for Hellas Gold

The decision of the Council of State on the legality of the Hellas Gold investment was a slap in the face for the former Minister of Reconstruction of Production, Environment and Energy (YPAPEN), Panos Skourletis. This is the 10th in succession vindication decision for Hellas Gold from the Council of State on various issues relating to the legality of the investment and environmental protection, which raises questions about the handling of foreign investments in our country. Hellas Gold had appealed at the Council of State in April against the YPAPEN for the omission of legal actions and specifically the statutory obligation to adopt within 60 days of their submission, the submission of technical studies of gold mining, copper and the new enrichment plant in Madem Lakkos. The YPAPEN argued that the appendices had shortcomings and thus revoked the technical studies. One of the shortcomings cited by the YPAPEN was that the company did not carry out the test program in a semi-industrial plant in the area of the project, but in a research center in Fori, Finland, which was also the basis of the recent decision of Mr. Skourletis that caused the cessation of work in the mines and the suspension of 2,000 workers.

The Council of State emphasizes in its decision that the allegations of the YPAPEN are rejected and unfounded, and also determines that the non adoption of the Addendum filed by the company was based primarily on inadequate reasoning and concludes that the contested act should be annulled in its entirety and the case should be remitted to the management for new legal judgement. It also notes that file return for technical studies is only allowed under the Article 102 KMLE for reasons of inadequacy or inaccuracy of the data submitted. The decision of the Council of State, although not directly related to the recent decision of Mr. Skourletis, invalidates the legal basis on which it is based and anticipates its future cancellation given that it is the next administrative act that will be appealed at the Council of State by Hellas Gold.

Although he was vulnerable after the decision, Mr. Skourletis preferred to ignore it. Yesterday the YPAPEN stressed in its announcement that “the decision cancels the act of the former minister, dated 28.4.2015 on the grounds of inadequate reasoning. The YPAPEN is unwilling and unable to make judgments or comments on the content of judicial decisions. It states, however, in every direction that it will exhaust the limits of its institutional responsibilities and any means provided by the law for absolute and uncompromising protection of the environment and to fully safeguard the public interest“, the announcement concludes.

Hellas Gold requests the alignment of the YPAPEN and the competent minister with the decision of justice via an announcement published on the occasion of the decision of the Council of the State. “Today’s no. 3191 2015 Decision of the Council of State (regarding the metallurgical copper, gold and sulfuric acid unit of Madem Lakkos) constitutes a vindication of Hellas Gold and proves beyond doubt that it’s operation is based on the legality and fulfillment of all its contractual obligations. It is now clear that if there are responsibilities for shortcomings they should be seeked elsewhere … Now it is time for the YPAPEN and the competent minister to align with the decision of justice as stated in the announcement of the company. ”

The decision of the Council of State was viewed in positive light by the employees. They state, however, that the problem remains and they will continue their protests until they return to work. With an announcement they invite the Minister to promptly re-evaluate his decision to revoke the authorizations of the technical studies and the company to proceed immediately following the revocation of the decision of the Minister with the cessation of the suspension and to ensure the immediate reinstatement of their dismissed colleagues working with partner contractors. The Association of Mining Industries (SME) is also concerned about the developments in the Cassandra Mines of Hellas Gold and it proposes a  trilateral meeting (YPAPEN, SME and Hellas Gold) to find a solution.

KATHIMERINI, 28/08/2015



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Council of the State: The concession of public forest areas to Hellas Gold SA is legal

The concession (in use and ownership)  of sections of public forest areas to the company “HELLAS GOLD SA”, stretching over ​​3,273 acres in 2012 in the areas of Skouries and Madem Lakos in the Municipality of Aristoteli, was considered constitutional by the Fifth Division of the Council of State for the sake of public interest

Yesterday, the Council of State decided on the appeals pending on harvesting issues in the site of Skouries. The residents of Halkidiki had turned to the Council of State seeking an annulment of the decision of the General Secretary of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia – Thrace, according to which the disputed public forest sections were granted to the company “Hellas Gold SA”. The applicants argued that the concession violated a series of constitutional provisions and community directives on the sustainable development of forest protection and cultural environment.

The Council of State ruled that the ministerial decision took into account the rarity and quality of the ore, the mining for the sake of public interest and the economy and the impact of intervention on the forest ecosystem of the area corresponding to 0.44% of the wider study area. In particular, it accepted that the use of forest land for mining activities is constitutionally tolerable if alternatives have been considered, as in this case, and that those needs could not be met without sacrificing a portion of the forest.

There was also another decision regarding the applications for the annulment of the signs of the forest inspector of Arnea which were issued in March to put a halt to the mining operations in Skouries. The applications were submitted in the Labour Centre of Halkidiki and other professional associations of miners, of the company, etc. The recess was requested by the Ministry of Productive Environment Reconstruction and Energy, namely by the Deputy Minister Gianni Tsironis to check the legality and conduct a retesting.

The Council of State ruled that in the document of the Deputy Minister ” no delinquency is attributed to the logging operations or the Forest Service document and therefore the indefinite interruption is unjustified and that the contested decision must be annulled, since it was noted in the ministry’s website that checks concluded the legality of the issued protocols.”




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