Red tape plagues gold mine

Canadian gold-mining firm Frontier Pacific is in talks with US-based NewMont and Greece’s S&B Industrial Minerals with a view to buying Thrace Gold Mines in Perama, Evros. The two present owners, who hold 80 and 20 percent stakes respectively in the mine which was founded in 1991, are said to want to withdraw mainly due to endless bureaucratic procedures and strong reactions from local residents. Talks are expected to be completed by March at the earliest. Thrace Gold Mines has filed a suit with a local administrative court against the local prefect, charging him with undue delays in publishing the tender for the sale. The company says all necessary licensing and technical studies have been completed and the delays are therefore unjustified. The case will be heard on January 12, 2004. Separately, Deputy Environment and Public Works Minister Yiannis Tsaklidis told a conference in the town of Drama, northern Greece, over the weekend, that local reactions against mining schemes are often excessive and are harmful to development. «It is a mistake to adopt an a priori dismissive stance against all cases of metal mining and quarrying activity, to which the future of many areas in northern Greece is tied. Such a stance can often lead to a peculiar self-punishment of local communities and impedes sustainable development,» he said. Development Ministry officials told the conference that the legal framework governing the metal mining and quarrying industries required certain changes, particularly as regards procedures for obtaining mining rights and the relevant licenses, in order to provide a stable basis in coming decades. Canada’s TVX Gold has had to abandon a large mining investment in Halkidiki, northern Greece, due to local reactions.