Today (Saturday, November 9) is the International Action Day Against Gold Mines in Halkidiki.
This day of action is in opposition to Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold pursuing its Skouries project – a processing plant and open pit gold-copper mine near the town of Ierissos in the Halkidiki peninsula of northern Greece – which is set to open in 2015.
The call to action for states, “In August 2013, it was officially announced that the water in the local Neohori village is not potable due to toxic level concentration of arsenic, the State did not examine possible connections between this incident and the presence of Eldorado Gold drillings at a short distance from the village water resources.” And the company says the project has mineral reserves of 3.6 million ounces of gold (1 ounce = .028 kilograms) and 736 kilotons of copper. A fact sheet has noted that 691 cubic metres of water is required for each kilogram of gold produced. That means a massive amount of the limited freshwater in the Halkidiki peninsula would be required for this mine. It can be argued that the Greek state is violating the United Nations-recognized human right to water by not ‘respecting the right’ (refraining from interfering directly or indirectly with the right), nor is it ‘protecting the right’ (ensuring that third parties do not interfere with or violate the right).
Greek media has reported that Panos Skourletis, a spokesperson for the official opposition party SYRIZA, “said the party would cancel the gold mine contract if it comes to power.” If the Canada-European Union ‘free trade’ agreement were ratified with the investor-state provision intact, Eldorado Gold could sue Greece for millions of dollars in lost profits should a SYRIZA government revoke the company’s license in defence of the right to water, the land, and forests. Kriton Arsenis, a Greek Member of the European Parliament, has been outspoken about the threat posed by a CETA investor-state clause to European communities fighting unwanted and damaging resource-extraction projects, such as the Skouries mine. He has written, “The adverse effect of investor-state dispute settlement clause on environment and public health laws is already evident. In recent years, investor-state arbitration has become a powerful tool giving standing to private commercial entities to bring actions against states in order to circumvent any law restrictions. This clause if finally included in the EU-Canada trade agreement will end up to being an easy way to bypass democracy.”
As a gesture of solidarity with our Greek friends and allies, please watch and share this informative and moving 60-minute documentary. If you live in the Montreal area, we’ve just found out that there will be a gathering at 2 pm today in Μόντρεαλ/Montreal at boul. René-Lévesque Ouest Complexe Guy-Favreau.
For our blogs on this situation, see: