Mining company loses court case to Halkidiki people


The Stratoni mine (file photo)

The Council of State has ordered an international gold producer to stop cutting trees on its mining and exploration properties in the Halkidiki forest region.

The state’s supreme administrative court decided against Hellas Gold and its principal shareholder El Dorado Gold Corporation, following a lawsuit last May. The plaintiff had filed a petition last month to stop the company from cutting trees.

The court ruled in favour of the people of Halkidiki, who challenged the legality of the decision of the Ministry of Environment to sign the permission for the company’s environmental study.

After announcing the news on Wednesday, the company saw its shares tumble almost 7 per cent.

The order prevents the company from cutting trees in the Halkidiki forest region, where the Vancouver-based company operates the Stratoni silver-lead mine and is developing the Skouries and Olympias gold projects.

Other exploration and operational activities at the projects were not affected by the order, the company said.

Located less than 100 km from Thessaloniki, the Stratoni project was acquired from the state in 2004 by Hellas Gold (95% Eldorado Gold and 5% Aktor). The company’s property in the area covers a total of 317 square km.

The area has a long history of mining, dating back to 600BC, but residents have been concerned with the environmental destruction and the health implications that the mining activities may have on them.

Numerous protests have been held by Halkidiki residents and environmental activists over the years, with mine workers reportedly attacking protesting residents on two occasions. The latest violent incident took place last week, leaving three people injured.

Speaking to Avgi newspaper last month, Syriza MP for the area Katerina Inglesi said that workers had turned violent because the company had put pressure on them by saying that if the project does not go ahead they will be fired.

In a written statement, the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) expressed its strong disagreement with the court’s decision, which it says has left hundreds of workers at the Halkidiki mines unemployed and has weakened the area’s growth prospects.

El Dorado says it is working with government ministries to show it has all the permits needed to legally continue cutting trees in Halkidiki and it expects the order to be revoked once it files the required documents with the court. (Athens News/ Reuters)


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