Mines un­der ar­bi­tra­tion

Gov’t move to set­tle score with El­do­rado in lat­est chap­ter of tense re­la­tions

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece’s de­ci­sion to start an ar­bi­tra­tion process with El­do­rado Gold Cor­po­ra­tion over a gold mine de­vel­op­ment could un­der­mine the Cana­dian com­pany’s 2.8-bil­lion-dol­lar in­vest­ment project and cost hun­dred of jobs.

The de­ci­sion – an­nounced by En­ergy Min­is­ter Gior­gos Stathakis af­ter his meet­ing Wed­nes­day with the man­age­ment of El­do­rado’s unit in Greece, Hel­las Gold – will take ef­fect at the end of Au­gust and is seen as the lat­est round of ten­sion be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the com­pany in a re­la­tion­ship which has been un­easy since SYRIZA came to power.

El­do­rado is de­vel­op­ing projects at Sk­ouries and Olympias in north­ern Greece. Ac­cord­ing to the min­istry, li­cens­ing for Olympias is in the fi­nal stage, while per­mits for Sk­ouries are pend­ing. The mine at Sk­ouries has been a source of fric­tion in re­cent years over the test­ing meth­ods used and en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions.

The gov­ern­ment’s crit­ics say that the Sk­ouries mine and the is­sue of ed­u­ca­tion are con­sid­ered the last bas­tions in the left­ist-led coali­tion’s bid to save face and atone for sign­ing on to harsh aus­ter­ity with the coun­try’s cred­i­tors. Rais­ing ob­sta­cles to the project may also jeop­ar­dize hun­dreds of jobs. “If per­mits are not given for the Sk­ouries project, the fac­tory can­not con­tinue to op­er­ate and 1,200 work­ers will be fired,” sources from Hel­las Gold told Kathimerini yes- ter­day, while de­scrib­ing the gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion for ar­bi­tra­tion as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated.

Mean­while, El­do­rado Gold pres­i­dent and CEO Ge­orge Burns said the com­pany had not been for­mally in­formed, and that the gov­ern­ment’s state­ment did not re­sult in any ad­di­tional clar­ity re­gard­ing the details of the in­tended ar­bi­tra­tion.“To be clear, we have not yet re­ceived for­mal no­tice of ar­bi­tra­tion and per­mits ap­plied for re­main unis­sued. We con­tinue to eval­u­ate all cap­i­tal spend­ing and de­vel­op­ment time­lines at our projects in Greece,” he said, adding that, at this time, “com­mis­sion­ing at Olympias and re­duced de­vel­op­ment works at Sk­ouries are con­tin­u­ing.”

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