New Democracy Speeds Restart of Stalled Gold Mine

In this undated photo provided on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, by Hellas Gold company, employees work inside a gold mine complex in Skouries, in the Halkidiki peninsula, northern Greece. (Hellas Gold via AP)

ATHENS – Moving to kick start projects stalled by the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA, Greece’s new New Democracy government is set to soon issue permits for Canada’s Eldorado Gold’s Skouries gold mine project near Thessaloniki, the Energy Ministry said.

The Vancouver-based Eldorado has two operating mines and two development projects in northern Greece has battled for years to get permits and was repeatedly stymied by environmentalists, protesters fearing it would hurt tourism, and hard-core elements in the former Leftist government not wanting any foreign companies in Greece.

Eldorado stopped construction in November 2017 at Skouries, which has reserves of 3.7 million ounces of gold and 1.7 billion pounds of copper, citing mainly environmental permit delays, but now seems set to begin again, the news agency Reuters and the Greek business newspaper Naftemporiki said.

The energy ministry said it would fully conform with rulings by the country’s top administrative court and a ministry official told Reuters the rulings concerned permits for the installation of equipment for an enrichment plant in Skouries through its Greek subsidiary Hellas Gold.

In a shot at the previous government of then-Premier Alexis Tsipras, the ministry statement added that, “…the SYRIZA government, with its persistence and obsessions, acted as a constant obstacle to the promotion of investments and new job creation.”

Greece’s Council of State (CoS), the highest administrative court in the country, referred to three rulings that accepts Hellas Gold’s appeals of three previous ministry decisions against the mining company.

“These rulings have validated the criticism aimed at the previous government over its position regarding Skouries, which was negative in terms of the investment, the company’s workers and the wider region…the ministry’s new leadership will immediately and fully comply with the CoS rulings, and issue licenses,” the statement also read.