TVX Gold to suspend work next week

One of the biggest foreign investments in Greece is in danger of coming to nothing, following an announcement yesterday by the Canadian mining group TVX Gold that it would suspend all activities by its Greek subsidiary at the base metal mine at Stratoni in northern Greece on December 11, citing force majeure. The company’s president, Sean Harvey, complained of bureaucratic blocks, arbitrary official actions and a lack of progress regarding timetables and procedures specified under Greek law. In a separate case, TVX is in a legal dispute over plans to start gold production near the village of Olympiada, also part of the Cassandra Mines region. A leaked report from the Council of State in May said the country’s highest administrative court would revoke government permits for the gold mining project. The decision has still not been announced. In Toronto, the company said TVX Hellas has been prevented from operating the mine, despite holding a legitimate permit, due to a suspension order from the northern Greece mining inspector. The statement said that 500 people will lose their jobs at Stratoni unless the inspector’s suspension order is lifted and the government approves plans to expand operations there. Exploration at Stratoni that went beneath a local village led to the suspension order. TVX spokesman Carl Hansen said TVX agreed to halt the exploration but the suspension order covered a larger part of the mining operation. A deadline to lift the suspension passed on November 26, TVX said. A man who faked a broken Greek accent (but who was described as having a rich vocabulary) spoke with the father 20 times, agreeing to lower an initial demand of 1 billion drachmas (about $2.6 million) to the $1.15 million in dollars. From Friday to Monday the kidnappers instructed the father to drive out with the ransom money each day, keeping in touch with mobile phones whose cards they would discard after each call in order not to be traced. On Monday they finally instructed Costas Zonas to drop off the money under a bridge.

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