Mining the depths of frustration in Halkidiki [Greece] – by Yannis Palaiologos ( – April 9, 2015)

Eldorado Gold CEO Paul Wright talks to Kathimerini about the Canadian firm’s major investment in Greece and the difficulties it is facing

“I have never encountered anything like it.” Paul Wright, chief executive officer of Hellas Gold’s parent company Eldorado Gold, has difficulty understanding the quagmire in which the firm’s large investment in Halkidiki has found itself.

In an interview with Kathimerini, Wright says that the project in northern Greece bolsters employment, exports and tax revenues for the Greek state during what is a very difficult period. He also points out that the project has survived a number of court challenges. “And yet the government wants to stop it.”

We met at the company’s Athens headquarters. Wright was visiting the country for a third time since the January election in a bid to reach some sort of understanding with the new government. Despite efforts made by the company, as well as Canada’s government, his contacts with Greek government officials have proved difficult.

“It is uncertain what the government’s intentions are. We are receiving mixed signals. There has been interference, negative statements about the investment,” he said. Have there also been some positive signals? “I am probably being a bit generous when I talk about mixed signals. It’s been negative rather than positive. And that’s been noted by our marketplace.”

Wright says that for the time being he has no clear picture about how the government’s thinking on the project is developing. He says that one of the reasons he met with Panayiotis Lafazanis, minister of production reconstruction, when he visited Athens last week, was to find out more about what the new administration thinks.

As he sees it, “this project is held through a contract with the government, a legally binding contract that obliges the parties to fulfill obligations. These obligations are binding both on us and on the state.”

“We believe fundamentally in this project, we believe in the society, and we believe that it is in the best interest of the Greek state,” Wright said.

In his view, there is a lot of “misinformation” about the company’s activities, which also seems to have affected the stance of the new government.

“We will continue to try to clarify things to the government. However, as a corporation, we cannot in the medium to long term work in an environment in which the government does not support the project. The actions that have been taken are affecting our productivity, they are affecting our costs. Inevitably, unless these situations are remedied, it would be likely that we would have to curtail further development.”

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