Gov’t hopes to resolve impasse as miners continue hunger strike

The government said yesterday it will be in a position next week to announce a solution to the long impasse over the future of the Stratoniki basic metals mine in Halkidiki, Macedonia, that is threatening the jobs of about 500 people. «The workers should have no doubts that we shall have a positive outcome next week,» said Development Minister Akis Tsohadzopoulos after a conferring with junior ministers. About 120 miners are now into the fifth day of a hunger strike 230 meters below ground in the mine, demanding assurances for their jobs after the operating company, TVX Hellas, recently acquired by Canada’s Kinross Gold Corporation, decided to file for bankruptcy. «We want to be absolutely certain of a credible, broadly based scheme that will undertake to continue the operation of the Stratoniki mine but also attempt to implement a more general mining policy in the area,» Tsochadzopoulos said. The salvaging scheme is said to include public mining firm LARKO, an unnamed large construction company, a number of local government organizations in the area, and TVX Hellas itself; a company spokesman said on Thursday that Kinross was prepared to put up $10 million toward the new company’s working capital should the scheme materialize. Sources said the new scheme will need an initial capital of 30 million euros.

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