Eldorado Gold Corporation puts Greek mining operations on hold

By Sudarshan Sitaula

In recent months several major mining and exploration companies have pumped the brakes on projects in Canada due to industry issues and commodity prices. This week a Canadian mining company is similarly slowing down operations overseas. Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold Corporation announced that, in light of conflicts over permits and licensing, its Hellas Gold subsidiary is suspending construction and development activities on its projects in the Halkidiki region of northern Greece.  

Eldorado Gold Corporation states that, while Hellas Gold had its Environmental Impact Study approved in 2011, Greece’s Ministry of Energy and Environment has failed to come through on its end with permitting and licensing necessary to complete construction of its Skouries processing plant—which in turn has delayed and complicated Hellas Gold’s scheduling and yearly budgets. After three years of impasse, the company states that it remains unable to progress with construction and is electing to put the projects on hold.

"Eldorado Gold has been, and remains, a committed, responsible and patient partner to the Greek government and to the people of the communities in which we operate,” said Paul N. Wright, President and Chief Executive Officer of Eldorado Gold, in the company’s press statement. “The projects have considerable potential with demonstrated economic and social benefits. At this time, we would instead prefer to be creating additional employment in Greece and advancing the construction and development of our Skouries and Olympias Projects in Halkidiki, as well as our assets in Thrace. However, we have a duty to all our stakeholders and the significant time and process risks created by Greece's Ministry of Energy and Environment have left us with no choice but to reduce activities and personnel.”

Wright asserted that the company has long held the support of a majority of local stakeholders, and has invested upwards of $700 million into its Skouries and Olympias projects (including significant tax payments to the Greek government). With this in mind he cites the Ministry’s “openly confrontational attitude towards our businesses and investments,” along with acquiescence to the lobbying efforts of antidevelopment interest groups, as key drivers in this ultimate decision to shelve the projects.

“We have operated in good faith and Hellas Gold has complied with all of its contractual obligations, but given the adverse circumstances mentioned above, it is prudent to reduce our capital allocation to Greece at this time,” he added. “We wish to recommence the suspended activities and our investment plans in Greece upon the timely issuance of the necessary permits and the establishment of a truly collaborative partnership, within the framework of the contractual obligations between Hellas Gold and the Greek State."

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