Close to 40 masked intruders stormed into the facilities of a gold mine project in northern Greece Sunday morning, setting machinery and offices on fire, AP reports.
The Skouries project in the Halkidiki peninsula, run by a subsidiary of Canadian Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD) (NYSE:EGO), has been the target of numerous and —at times— violent protests by locals and activists who strongly oppose the gold-copper mine being built. They claim Hellas Gold’s operation, a firm 95% owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado, would devastate ancient forests and drive tourists away from the region.
Police said the attackers entered Hellas’ facility around 12.40 a.m. (2240 GMT), causing extensive damage with firebombs and flammable liquid. So far 27 people have been detained.
Despite ongoing opposition, Greek authorities support the endeavour, as it will create jobs and bring hundreds of millions into the struggling economy.
“In this difficult time — but also regardless of the circumstances — we owe it to ourselves to ensure the best possible exploitation of wealth this country has to offer to drive growth and bolster the economy,” AP quoted Deputy Energy and Environment Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou in January.
Opponents are not only worried about potential pollution. They also argue that unlike many other countries, the Greek state doesn’t get any royalties from mine concessions, so stands to gain only taxes and jobs.
Permits granted in 2004 for Stratoni, one of the Halkidiki mines currently operating and which is near Skouries, expire in 2026 but can be renewed twice for 25 years each time, free of charge.
Currently Eldorado is involved in four gold projects, all of them located in northern Greece.
Three of the mining prospects are at the planning stage. The fourth and largest, in the Halkidiki peninsula, was carried out more than 10 years ago another Canadian firm, TVX.
(Image of a protest in 2012, by Teacher Dude)