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Police fire tear gas at Skouries gold mine protesters

Police fired tear gas to fend off protesters who had gathered in the Skouries area of Halkidiki, northern Greece, on Sunday to protest gold mining activity.

Dozens of residents of the nearby village of Ierissos, as well as protesters who arrived by coaches and cars from Thessaloniki, approached the forest in Skouries, where Hellenic Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold, has begun mining activity that locals are appealing against.

Protesters accused the police of making heavy use of tear gas, causing a fire in the woods, and of chopping down trees to prevent demonstrators from approaching the mine.

There were reports of several people being arrested and detained at Ierissos police station. Several people were also injured, including SYRIZA MP Vangelis Diamantopoulos.

Hellenic Gold has been awarded an area of 26,400 hectares, of which 410 is forest land. Almost all the trees in the forest will be cut down as part of the mining firm’s plan to extract gold. The company says it will replant trees when it finishes its work.

Opponents of the mine argue it would lead to the destruction of the local forest and irreversible damage to the ecosystem.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday September 9, 2012 (21:52)  
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