A long history of mining

Mining activity in the area has a long history and dates back to antiquity and the reign of Philip II. During Ottoman rule the mines flourished. After the modern Greek state was established, the Greek Company for Chemical Products and Fertilizers (AEEXPL) took over the mines in 1912. In 1947 the company was bought by the Bodossakis Institute, which ran it until 1992 when financial problems arose due to a slump in gold prices. The company was liquidated and in 1995 it was sold by auction to the Canadian-based company TVX-Gold, which was granted a permit to operate a gold mine in Olympiada. The local inhabitants protested and were for years in conflict with riot police that have settled permanently in the area. An appeal was made to the Council of State. After 2000 the company exploited the metals found under the village of Stratonike. Many cracks appeared in buildings and further protests were staged which led to arrests and court cases. At the beginning of 2002 the Council ruled against investments in gold mining as a result of the considerable damage caused to the environment. In another ruling the same year, the Council declared mining activity under Stratonike to be illegal. The company filed an application for bankruptcy in 2003. With the deputy finance minister acting as an intermediary, the company was given a new structure and renamed «Hellas Gold.» Plans for the creation of two new gold mines and waste deposit pits were proposed. In September 2005 mining began again under Stratonike. The inhabitants appealed once again to the Council of State but the case was deferred until November 2, 2007. The comments of the Public Works Ministry on the environmental study submitted by Hellas Gold are still pending.