Hundreds of workers at the gold mines in Kassandra on northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula were marching onto the prime minister’s office in downtown Athens on Thursday, causing traffic chaos in and around the city center.
The miners rode to the capital by bus overnight to stage the first part of their protest against delays in the licenses for mining to proceed at Skouries outside the Environment and Energy Ministry in northern Athens. They then headed south on foot to the city center, closing major thoroughfares – including Mesogeion and Vassilissis Sofias avenues – along the way.
“It appears that a major effort is being made by both sides to resolve the dispute and we honestly believe that a solution will be found soon,” said Christos Zafeiroudas, the head representative of the miners, who fear that the current deadlock between the Greek government and Canada’s Eldorado Gold could result in them losing their jobs.
“An honorable and honest dialogue is being held with the company,” the unionist added after meeting with the ministry’s general secretary, Michalis Verriopoulos. “Unfortunately, it will take time before we see tangible results, so we must continue our struggle. Nothing is finished yet.”
Eldorado Gold earlier this month gave the Greek government until September 22 to resolve the issue with the pending licenses, threatening to pull the plug on its operations in Halkidiki.
Speaking on Skai TV on Thursday, however, the chief executive of the company’s Greek unit said he is optimistic of a breakthrough.
“Communication (between the government and Eldorado) started at the beginning of the week… we have exchanged letters and made efforts for a solution,” Hellas Gold CEO Dimitris Dimitriadis said. “Hopefully, these efforts will be fruitful.”