TVX Hellas executives are due to meet with Deputy Development Minister Alekos Kalafatis today to discuss the issue of a permit for the company’s extended drilling at the base metal mine in Stratoni in northern Greece following the submission of an environmental study on the expansion yesterday. A ministry spokeswoman said the minister is expected to issue a decision either tomorrow or Thursday on whether the mining company can proceed with extended drilling. Parent company TVX Gold last week threatened to suspend operations at the Greek subsidiary today after a local mining inspector told the company to put off drilling, claiming that the work had gone beyond the specified boundary. TVX Gold said its decision to suspend operations was based on force majeure and would affect some 500 employees. It also expressed its frustration at the bureaucratic hurdles, arbitrary acts of officials and the lack of progress due to the non-adherence to timetables and procedures specified under Greek law. TVX Gold Chief Executive Sean Harvey also pointed to the Greek government’s delay in approving the extension of mining operations at Stratoni, work which he said is crucial to the continued viability of the mine beyond the end of this year. He said the company would revoke its suspension order in the event the Greek State issues a permit for the extended work and fulfills its contractual obligations. Since the Canadian mining group took over the Cassandra Mines in 1995, work has been marked by protests from local residents concerned about the impact on the environment and official delays. TVX Gold has injected more than $250 million into the Greek operation, making it of the country’s largest ever foreign investment project.