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Politics

Greece Goes All Out to Support More Mining, Aluminum Sources Focus

After the former ruling Radical Left SYRIZA stymied a gold mine operation and was often anti-business, Greece’s Deputy Environment and Energy Minister Alexandra Sdoukou said the New Democracy government wants more mining.

Speaking at the Delphi Economic Forum she said the administration, that is wooing as many foreign investors as it can get, had a four-pillar strategy to bolster the mining industry, but would ensure environmental safeguards.

They are to:

  • Update a 50-year-old Mining Code
  • Cut the waiting time for licenses with a maximum of two years
  • Re-evaluate digging in Natura environmentally-protected areas
  • Find more raw mineral resources

“The mining industry cannot develop at the expense of the environment, but a great range of mineral resources are tied up in these areas without prospects of development, especially critical minerals like bauxite,” Sdoukou stated.

That contains aluminum which is a valuable asset for exports, but other resources will also be explored as Greece has moved toward becoming business-friendly and cutting the red tape of its notoriously slow bureaucracy.

SYRIZA blocked continued work in northern Greece at the Skouries gold mine site conducted by the Canadian firm Eldorado Gold through a Greek subsidiary, the Leftists opposed to foreign interests in the country.

New Democracy changed that after ousting SYRIZA in 2019 elections and routed the Leftists again in 2023, the Conservatives now having a stranglehold on the Parliament with a majority and able to pass any legislation it wants.

In July 2023, Eldorado Gold announced the restart of operations for the development of the Skouries site, which also contains copper, after securing €680 million ($725 million) in funding.

The aim is to begin commercial production by the end of 2025 or early 2026 at the mine, which has reserves of 3.7 million ounces of gold and 1.7 billion pounds of copper, work stopped from 2017-21 over government delays and local opposition.

Work began in 2017 and was half done after an initial investment of $550 million before New Democracy was able to get it restarted, ensuring the environment would be protected.

Christos Balaskas, Managing Director of Eldorado Greece and Vice-President for Greece, said that the combined operation of all mining fields in Kassandra will make Greece the third-largest gold producer in Europe with annual production of 215,000 ounces, after Sweden (260,421) and Finland (247,560).

Completion will need investments of €1.9 billion ($2.03 billion) to produce €11 billion ($11.73 billion) in exports, need €2 billion ($2.13 billion) in aid, create 5,000 jobs, and draw an environment of €120 million ($128 million.)

In October 2023, Eldorado Gold CEO said the company’s assets in Greece are key to its strategic development plans and that the copper deposits are so vast that the mine will be one of the biggest producers in the European Union and bring a bonanza for the company and Greece.

“We currently have 12 million ounces of gold in proven and probable reserves, 41% of those within Greece,” he told the Toronto Economic Forum II, organized by the Delphi Economic Forum with the Hellenic Initiative Canada.

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