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NEWS: Vancouver-based mining company threatens Greece’s water, trees under austerity measures


A Vancouver-based mining company is threatening forests, water, and ecosystems in Greece; this made possible because of austerity measures prompting ‘fast-track’ approvals by the Greek environment ministry. Bloomberg reports, “(Vancouver-based) Eldorado is developing European Goldfields’ Skouries and Olympias mines (in Halkidiki in Central Macedonia) and the Perama Hill project (in Eastern Macedonia) that it already owned. Gold mining is gathering momentum after Greece began what it called a ‘fast-track’ approvals programme. In 2011, Greece implemented the Fast Track programme to spur investment in projects of national importance, including gold mines. The environment ministry has accelerated the issue of permits.” A Forex Pros article notes, “There are those who fear that mining will degrade the environment, ruin tourism and their livelihood, and leave behind, after the gold is depleted, untold damage. They’re worried that sodium cyanide will be used to extract the gold from the ore, which could contaminate the drinking water and the air.” They report, “Local residence associations, cooperatives, and professional groups filed six appeals with the Council of State, Greece’s highest court, to stop further mining activity, arguing that it would destroy local forests and the ecosystem.” And they note, “Tensions flared up in late March when protesters occupied the road leading to the Skouries quarry on Mount Kakkavos and scuffled with workers who were trying to get through. Then, in the nearby village of Ierissos, a municipal council meeting that had convened to discuss the project was broken up by protesters who overturned cars and fought street battles with riot police that had been brought in to keep things under control. A member of the protesting committee later told the paper Kathimerini, ‘A complete cessation of mining is the only action we are prepared to accept from the state’. On August 6, riot police that had once again been brought in fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters who marched from the village of Ierissos towards the Skouries mine, where workers had begun chopping down trees. On September 9, events took a nasty turn when protesters—some local, some bused in from Thessaloniki—tried to reach the mine. Police fired teargas. Protestors threw flares and Molotov cocktails. A number of fires broke out. People were injured. Police arrested several protestors and confiscated more than 50 firebombs.” Campaign blogs on this situation are at http://canadians.org/blog/?p=16502 and http://canadians.org/blog/?p=14295.