ECONOMY

In Brief

Mining industry calls for balance in investment solutions Greek gold deposits, mainly located in Macedonia and Thrace, are estimated at 16 million ounces, which could place the country among the world’s 10 largest producers if production was unhindered, officials of the Geological and Mining Research Institute (IGME) said. However, the mining industry faces two considerable obstacles, the EU’s Natura iniative, on the basis of which about 20 percent of the area of Greece is exempt from such activities, and increasingly strong reactions from local communities to mining schemes. Industry representatives at a conference of the metallurgy industry in Thessaloniki said a balance between the industry and environmental protection was possible under modern production and waste-management methods. They said working out acceptable solutions in a comprehensive framework was important for attracting foreign investment in mining, noting that Greece had slipped into last position among 49 countries in this respect in 2002 from 29th in 2001. «It is necessary for local interests to back down vis-a-vis the general public interest sometimes… Excessive reliance on tourism is dangerous for the economy as a whole,» said Giorgos Georgiadis, chairman of the Mining Enterprises Association. IGME officials said investment plans under way could produce 450 tons of gold in coming decades. French firm seeks total control of Halyps Ciment Francais yesterday offered to buy the outstanding common and preferred stock of Athens bourse-listed Halyps cement company, of which it already owns 94.75 and 88.6 percent respectively. The price offered, 9 euros per share, is 42.8 and 46.5 percent higher than the respective average prices of common and preferred stock in the last 12 months. The offer is effective as of today as regards Halyps’s common stock, while the purchase of preferred shares will require the pending approval of a relevant prospectus. Ciment Francais intends to delist Halyps from the Athens bourse. Distinction for airport Athens International Airport has been rated second in Europe after Helsinki and third after Dubai in 2001 for «overall customer satisfaction» in a survey of the International Air Transport Association for 52 airports handling up to 15 million passengers annually. It was also rated first in Europe for orientation and signposting inside the airport, catering areas, parking facilities, passport control, connecting flight facilities and comfort in waiting areas. CSF III European Union investment subsidies under the Third Community Support Framework (CSF III) will start being disbursed through banks after mid-October, the Economy and Finance Ministry said. Banks will replace existing intermediary agencies and will initially handle 270 million euros and their role will be expanded if judged successful. Underwear-swimwear The underwear market in Greece grew at an average rate of 5.7 percent in the previous three years and is projected to rise by 3-4 percent annually in the 2002-2004 period, according to a study by the ICAP business research company; swimwear sales grew 13.3 percent annually and are projected to rise by 5-7 percent a year in 2002-2004.