Eldorado calls truce with gov’t but Elliniko project still up in air


Following the launch of a “constructive dialogue” with the government, Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold said on Thursday that it would not suspend its operations in northern Greece as it had threatened earlier this month.

Eldorado’s statement came as hundreds of employees of Hellas Gold, the company’s Greek subsidiary, rallied in central Athens, urging the government to grant the company the reassurances it requires to continue its operations.

When the news was announced, the protesters who had gathered outside the Environment Ministry broke into cheers. Worker representative had been meeting inside the ministry with general secretary Michalis Verriopoulos, who relayed the development.

In the statement, Eldorado president George Burns expressed satisfaction at the decision by the government last week to issue “several long-overdue routine permits” for one of the company’s plants in Halkidiki.

However, he said the company still reserved the right to suspend operations should their talks with the ministry “prove unsuccessful.”

The company had threatened to suspend its operations in Greece if pending permits were not issued by today. Such a move would have put around 2,000 jobs on the line.

Other points of dispute between the government and Eldorado are being handled by a formal arbitration process launched by the Greek state last week.

The dialogue referred to by Burns is expected to start in earnest when Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis returns from Crete, where he Thursday accompanied Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras for the government’s third regional “growth conference.”

Speaking in Iraklio, Tsipras underlined the importance of investments to create jobs but said it must be “fair growth.”

Meanwhile another major project – the development of the plot of the capital’s former airport at Elliniko – hangs in the balance.

The country’s Central Archaeological Council has already held two meetings to determine whether a section of the plot should be declared of archaeological interest.

Both meetings were inconclusive and a new one is likely next week. Sources said the Culture Ministry and Elliniko SA, the company developing the site, have signed an agreement foreseeing strict adherence to laws for the protection of antiquities.