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: english

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Greece says Eldorado must resume mining operations before talks on investment can continue

Greece has asked Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corp to reverse its decision to halt much of its Greek mining operations and safeguard jobs as a condition for the two parties to continue talks on the country’s biggest foreign investment.

The Vancouver-based miner has been in a dispute with the Greek government after Energy Minister Panos Skourletis in August revoked the company’s permit to further develop its Skouries mine in a forested area of northern Greece on environmental concerns.

The case is widely seen as a test of the leftist government’s approach to foreign investment.

On Monday Eldorado said it would suspend construction at the Skouries project, putting more than 600 jobs at risk. It also warned it would do the same at its Olympias mine, risking another 500 jobs in northern Greece, if it didn’t secure necessary permits by the end of March.

Skourletis met Eldorado Chief Executive Officer Paul Wright on Wednesday.

“I told him that a condition for any talks from now own is the company taking back its decision,” the minister said after the meeting.

“We can’t discuss while being blackmailed,” he said.

Eldorado went to Greece’s top administrative court to annul the government’s decision to revoke its mining permit and a majority of judges in the court ruled in its favor in November, but the official decision is still pending.

The government has also delayed several other licenses Eldorado needs to develop its projects on the Halkidiki peninsula.

Greece needs investment to spur its economy but the leftist government has shown a reticence to allow foreign ownership of big projects.

Eldorado has created around 2,000 direct and indirect jobs in Greece, which suffers from a jobless rate of 25 percent, the highest in the euro zone.

The Canadian company has spent more than $700 million since 2012 when it took over the project on the Halkidiki peninsula and planned to invest another $1 billion in its quest for gold, copper and zinc at the Olympias and Skouries sites.

[Reuters], ANGELIKI KOUTANTOU, 14.01.2016

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Hellas Gold calls for talks on mines

Hellas Gold, the company managing the Halkidiki mines where work has been suspended, urged the government to enter a dialogue after it described Energy Minister Panos Skourletis’s criticism of the firm’s activities as “lacking truth and scientific accuracy.”

Skourletis, who has suspended the technical studies for one of the mines, claimed on Tuesday that the firm shipped “highly toxic” metals from Thessaloniki to China when they should have been transported from a specially constructed harbor in Stratoni.

Hellas Gold denied this was the case and called for talks over what it described as “vitally important” investment for Greece.

Miners who have been suspended from work until the affair has been settled staged protests Tuedsay in the tunnels leading to the mines where they worked.

BUSINESS 25.08.2015 : 22:50

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