Greek block of Canadian project ‘inappropriate’: firm
Canada’s Eldorado Gold on Thursday called a decision by Greece to block expansion work on a disputed goldmine “entirely inappropriate,” and warned of a full halt of its activities.
“We are most disappointed and perplexed by this entirely inappropriate decision,” Eldorado Gold chief executive officer Paul Wright said in a statement reacting to the decision disrupting the group’s plans in the northern Halkidiki peninsula.
He added that the company’s Greek subsidiary Hellas Gold “may be forced to suspend all its mining and development activities in Halkidiki due to this rash decision.”
Greece’s environment minister announced the halt on Wednesday over alleged contract violations.
Energy Minister Panos Skourletis said he had ordered a “temporary” suspension of an expansion dig on the mountain of Skouries because it “violated the terms of its technical studies.”
Wright said the dispute was over flash smelting tests conducted in Finland, and which the Greek ministry wanted done onsite in Halkidiki.
“We have received numerous favorable decisions of the Council of State — Greece’s Supreme Court on administrative and environmental matters — over the course of the last three years, which confirm the legality of our activities in Halkidiki,” Wright said.
“We will once more take legal action... to safeguard the rights of Eldorado, Hellas Gold, our Greek employees and the communities and stakeholders that support our projects in Halkidiki,” he said.
The investment by Hellas Gold, which already operates other mines in the area, has deeply divided the local inhabitants, many of whom welcome the jobs created by the project.
Wright said the suspension had put 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in Greece at risk.
Anti-mine protesters claim the project will cause irreversible harm to the environment, draining and contaminating local water reserves and filling the air with hazardous chemicals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury.