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Eldorado Gold Claims Arbitration Win Over SYRIZA Mine Opposition

April 5, 2018

A Canadian company and its Greek subsidiary have again won claims against the ruling Radical Left SYRIZA that has tried to stop a gold mine operation at the same time the government said it really wants foreign investors.

Eldorado Gold, which runs Hellas Gold, said that an arbitration panel ruled its favor in its dispute with the government over a mining unit at Madem Lakkos after the two sides late in 2017 agreed to arbitration after the company said it otherwise would shut down the project and put 2400 people out of work.

The panel turned down allegations that a technical study was deficient and in violation of a transfer contract and the environmental terms of the project, the company said, according to Kathimerini.

“We believe this decision provides a foundation to allow us to advance dialogue with the Greek government in order to define a mutually-agreeable and clear path forward for our Kassandra investments,” Eldorado Chief Executive George Burns said in a statement.

“We look to the Greek state to fulfil its obligations under the transfer contract including issuing the outstanding permits for the Skouries project. The full, efficient and responsible development of the Kassandra assets will benefit the Greek state and its citizens, the local communities, our shareholders and our teams of Greek employees,” he said.

In January, the Environment Ministry appealed a court decision annulling a 1.7-million-euro ($2.06 million) fine it had slapped on the firm.

The ministry said the Athens court ruling did not dispute the findings of an environmental inspection at two of the Canadian company’s sites in northern Greece. Instead, it said the court decided that the ministry had taken too long to impose the fines for alleged breaches of Greek environmental protection laws.

Hellas Gold wanted the SYRIZA-led coalition, which opposes the project at the same time it’s wooing foreign investors to separate the issue of pending licenses for the Skouries gold mine in Halkidiki, separating them from the arbitration process.

“There is no legal or contractual reason for the non-issuing of licenses for the Skouries project,” the company stated, citing the contract to back up its opinion, said Kathimerini.

Hellas Gold had fulfilled all the necessary actions for the Skouries permits that are still pending and said the licenses are legitimate, the company said in a statement in September, 2017, adding that only secondary permits are outstanding.

The government began arbitration with the company on Sept. 14, days after Eldorado threatened to suspend all investments in Greece on Sept. 22 and conduct only maintenance and environmental work in its locations in northern Greece over what it said were delays in receiving permits.

The government counters that the company hadn’t provided some required information for the pending permits, and officials accused it of attempting to apply political pressure on the government.

The mine has faced violent opposition from locals fearing effects on tourism and the environment and the government has been blocking it at the same time Tsipras said it’s not and that he wants foreign investors loathe to take a chance on Greece during a crushing economic crisis and after the Premier imposed an avalanche of taxes on orders of the country’s European creditors putting up a third bailout, this one for 86 billion euros ($100.88 billion) he said he would never seek nor accept but did both.

He blamed Hellas Gold for being impatient and not putting up with years of protests and delays, adding that, the “investing company cannot show patience for a few more months, and is instead proceeding with pressure that makes no sense.”

He also claimed that main opposition New Democracy (ND) party is attempting to take advantage of the situation by peddling a “scenario” entitled “SYRIZA (the ruling party) is allergic to (foreign) investments”.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this report)

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