ATHENS – The development of Eldorado Gold’s mining projects in Greece have been exercises in misery.
In 2012, the Skouries mining site in northern Greece, the centrepiece of the Canadian company’s European gold portfolio, was besieged by protesters who said the mine would be an environmental disaster. A year later, the site was firebombed. In mid-2015, the new, far-left Syriza government revoked the permits that Eldorado needed to put Skouries into production and the project was suspended.
Today, after striking peace agreements with the Syriza government, Eldorado is sinking more than $1-billion (U.S.) into three projects in Greece, dominated by Skouries, that will drive the company’s growth in the next decade. Propelled by the Greek mines, Eldorado expects to produce more than 800,000 ounces of gold in 2020, up 110 per cent from forecast production in 2017.
“We’ve been through a very tiring, energy-sapping period in our history,” Paul Wright, Eldorado’s president and chief executive officer, said Tuesday from its Greek office in central Athens. “But now the majority of the permitting process is behind us. The government, we now believe, recognizes the necessity for job creation and growth in Greece and these projects help achieve that goal.”
The expansion of the Greek mines, which employ about 2,000 workers, makes Eldorado one of the biggest foreign investors in Greece, perhaps the biggest. The only recent investment that comes close is China COSCO Holdings’s investment in the port of Piraeus, just outside Athens, that is valued at more than €500-million ($713-million) over the next five years.
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