Greek govt 'about-face' over troubled mining concession, promises 3 licenses by Thur., faster arbitration to resolve pending issues

Wednesday, 13 September 2017 12:56
UPD:13:11
ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ/ΑΛΕΞΑΝΔΡΟΣ ΒΛΑΧΟΣ

Relevant Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis made the abrupt announcement moments after exited an unscheduled meeting with a group of protesting Hellas Gold miners.

The embattled Greek government on Wednesday said three pending licenses for the Olympiada mining complex will be issued the next day, a significant development that comes after Canadian multinational Eldorado Gold threatened to suspend operations in the country if regulatory and licensing hurdles weren't overcome.

Relevant Environment Minister Giorgos Stathakis made the abrupt announcement moments after exited an unscheduled meeting with a group of protesting Hellas Gold miners. Hellas Gold is Eldorado's subsidiary in Greece.The latter had issued a Sept. 21 deadline to get necessary licenses to continue operations in northern Greece.

"... we reached a common framework in which we'll maneuver ... three licenses for Olympiada will be issued by tomorrow (Thursday) for its full operation," was the comment by Stathakis.

Only a day earlier, the same minister accused Eldorado of not knowing how to operate in a European country, echoing the government's claims of "blackmail" by the company, which threatened to shutdown costly operations and leave thousands of people jobless.

Stathakis also said arbitration over the prospective metallurgical method used to process mined gold at the Skouries site, which along with Olympiada lies in eastern Halkidiki prefecture, will have a three-month duration. "We hope this (arbitration) will resolve all pending issues," he said.

Hellas Gold and its parent company emphasized this week that they are not opposed to arbitration pitting them against the Greek state, per se, but reminded that no arbitration case in Greece had concluded in less than a year. Company officials had requested a fast-track process to overcome the state's objections to the metallurgical process envisioned for Skouries.

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