“We are witnesses of an unprecedented event, a company CEO speaking in news conferences and judging prime ministers, cabinet ministers and political parties in Greece. It is rather clear that the company is not used to operating in European countries,” Environment and Energy Minister George Stathakis said on Monday, commenting on an Eldorado Gold decision to suspend operations in Greece.
Stathakis underlined that according to the contract between Hellas Gold and the Greek State, this investment must “First, ensure that there will be no negative environmental and ecological footprint that will affect the health of residents and the economic activities of the wider region and dozens of investments, especially in the tourism sector, which offer employment and income to the inhabitants and second, that Hellas Gold proceeds to a full vertical integration, with the production of pure gold and other metals in Greece, and does not concentrate on the extraction of condensates.”
“De facto,” he noted, “the environmental licensing system includes detailed procedures for each individual activity in order to comply with current European and national legislation. The most basic pending issue is the completion of the company’s investment plan to full vertical production. The State Council rejected the first proposal on the use of cyanide in gold production. The company’s second proposal, which uses the flash smelting method, has been returned by the ministry almost one year ago with technical observations and a re-submission is expected.”
As Stathakis explained, in the settlement of the outstanding issues, the company proposed a technical dialogue with the ministry. The ministry has recommended the most authoritative method of arbitration. Recourse to arbitration has been announced since last May by the prime minister. Then, in July, the ministry initiated the necessary administrative procedures at the State Legal Council, and the latter would officially launch its process by September 15th.
With regard to the alleged licensing delays by the ministry, Stathakis said that so far 60 pct of the Skouries sub-project and the Olympiada project have been licensed.
“The pending licenses for Olympiada, as announced by the ministry a month ago, would be approved by mid-September, a timetable known by the company. This is the six-month license to run the Olympiada project in order to proceed smoothly until the arbitration expires. The company’s choices with respect to its employees are obviously its own responsibility,” Stathakis added.