Greek court annuls Govt. decision to revoke Eldorado Gold licence
Greece's top administrative court ruled Wednesday that last year’s government decision to revoke Canada's Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD) (NYSE:EGO) mining licence in the country’s north was baseless, Reuters reports.
The Vancouver-based company had appeal appealed Greece’s energy and environment ministry order that forced the company to temporarily halt operations in August. An October decision let the miner resume operations, but a final ruling was pending.
After months of waiting for a resolution, Eldorado Gold halted last week most operations at its Skouries gold mine, putting about 600 jobs on the line. The company also warned it would do the same at its Olympias mine, risking another 500 jobs, if it didn't secure necessary permits by the end of March.
Today’s ruling comes only a few days after Greece’s left-wing government accused the mining company of staging a “political show” and “blackmailing” authorities by cancelling work at Skouries, the country's biggest foreign investment.
It also follows over a year of confrontations between Eldorado and the government of Greece, which included permits being revoked and delayed by the state multiple times.
The country’s ruling Syriza party has opposed the gold project, in the Thrace region, siding with many local residents who have staged several demonstrations. They claim the mine will destroy the environment and harm the area’s tourism potential.
There have also been both pro-mine protests, including a demonstration threat by the company’s local employees announced Monday and a march in April 2015, which attracted an estimated 4,000 supporters, forcing police to shut down major roads in Athens for several hours.
The company is not the first miner to struggle in Greece. In the 1990s, the Skouries and Olympias projects belonged to TVX Gold Inc., which failed to develop them because of local opposition. Eldorado has said it believed it could do better, in part because of its experience in developing mines in both neighbouring Turkey and China.
Currently the company employs 2,000 workers in an area with an unemployment rate above 30%.