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Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold suspends its controversial Skouries mine in northern Greece

Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold has suspended work on its controversial Skouries mine.

The Associated Press reports, “[Eldorado Gold CEO Paul] Wright accused the Greek government of using the mining project as a ‘political toy’…” The company has also threatened that Phase 2 of its Olympias mine could also be suspended if it doesn’t receive a needed permit by the end of March. The news report adds, “Eldorado says it will provide further plans for 2016 on Jan. 25.”

Mining.com reports, “The decision comes after a year of confrontations with the Greek government that included permits being revoked and delayed by the state multiple times. The straw that broke the camel’s back, however, was Greece’s recent decision to delay for over three years a building permit that would allow the company complete construction of the Skouries processing plant.”

But Greek environment minister Panos Skoutletis says, “The government will not be blackmailed. The decisions it takes will be based on public interest, environmental protection, and will be taken after studying all the facts.” He has also stated, “No business, Greek or foreign, can blackmail the Greek state, ignore the laws and the issues relating to environmental protection.”

The AP news report notes, “[The environment ministry has imposed] a total 1.7 million euros (US$1.84 million) in fines on Hellas Gold, a Greek subsidiary of the company, for a total 21 alleged breaches of environmental safety regulations [for infractions that took place between 2012 and 2014].”

The Wall Street Journal adds, “Greece’s ruling Syriza party has opposed the gold mine in Skouries, in the Thrace region, siding with many local residents who say that it will destroy the environment and harm the area’s tourism potential.”

The Council of Canadians and Blue Planet Project have worked with Greek allies to oppose this mine since meeting with them outside the World Water Forum in Marseille, France in March 2012.

In May 2013, we helped support a tour with three people from Greece to highlight their concerns about the mine with people in Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. Just a couple months earlier, our friend Maria Kadoglou, one of the speakers on this tour, spoke against the mine on CBC Radio’s As It Happens. We also encouraged our supporters to watch this documentary for the International Action Day Against Gold Mines in Halkidiki. And we supported their interventions at the World Social Forum as well as posting numerous campaign blogs on the situation there, including one highlighting that 15,000 people had marched on the Canadian consulate in Thessaloniki in opposition to this gold mine.

We have also argued that if the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) were already in place, the Vancouver-based company could use the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision in the agreement to sue the democratically-elected Greek government for the future profits related to this mine.

For numerous blogs on this situation, please click here.