Gold mine projects move ahead

European Goldfields, part-owned by Greek construction company Aktor, won preliminary approval to develop a project in northeastern Greece which is expected to increase its gold production fivefold, it said yesterday. The project focuses on two locations located east of Thessaloniki. The Canada-based company sees its Olympias mine entering production in mid-2010 and the other site at Skouries reaching full production from the beginning of 2012. «With these approvals we can now start building these projects and exploring for more,» said David Reading, chief executive officer, noting the company produces about 70,000 ounces of gold a year. «Our 420,000 ounces of gold from 2012 onward would double current European gold production,» he said. Reading said the permit process in Greece was 80 percent complete and he expected it to be concluded in the next quarter or in January. European Goldfields, which is 19.7 percent-held by Aktor, has spent $120 million on the project and needs a further $330 million to bring everything to production by 2012. Reading said the company expects to fund the development through project finance loans from banks. Gold prices surged to an 18-month peak yesterday.