Thousands stand up for Canadian mine threatened with closure in Greece

Thousands stand up for Canadian mine threatened with closure in Greece

About 4,000 people marched Thursday in Athens against the government decision to revoke Canada's Eldorado Gold Corp.'s licence to develop a gold mine in Skouries. (Image: Screenshot via YouTube)

Close to 4,000 people protested Thursday in Greece against the looming closure of a gold mine owned by Canada's Eldorado Gold Corp. (TSX:ELD) (NYSE:EGO), the biggest foreign investor in the country.

The mine supporters fear massive job losses because the new radical left-led government decided to revoke the company's licence to develop the project in Skouries, northern Greece, on environmental and financial grounds.

Police, reports Reuters, closed main roads as angry miners marched to the ministry responsible for environment and development Thursday, where they shouted slogans and banged their hard hats on the ground.

The ruling Syriza party has accused the mining company of encouraging the protests.

Eldorado said last month that it believed there was no legal basis for the government to revoke permission to complete construction of a key ore enrichment plant at the Skouries mine. It also warned the ministry’s decision could force it to reconsider its investment plans.

Divisive issue

Skouries has had locals divided since early 2011, when the Eldorado’s subsidiary Hellenic Gold received government approval to mine in the northern peninsula.

Some claim the mine, owned 95% by Eldorado, may hurt tourism and the environment, while others believe the operation is good news for Greece because it will generate new jobs and bring hundreds of millions into the struggling economy.

Truth is Skouries was the flagship project of the last government’s foreign investment drive and, for many, remains a test case that would reveal whether Greece is able to protect foreign investors despite local opposition.

Eldorado has invested more than $450 million since 2012 on construction and development of the Skouries and Olympias mines in Greece, and had planned to invest another $200 million this year to advance construction at Skouries.