Hooded protesters firebomb Greek mining site
ATHENS (AFP) – Dozens of hooded men early Sunday firebombed the premises of a Greek subsidiary of a Canadian gold mining company opposed by environmentalists, injuring a guard and damaging equipment, police said.
The group of 40 to 50 men threw molotov cocktails and set fire to equipment at the Hellenic Gold site in the northern region of Halkidiki at around 1:00 am local time, damaging containers and trucks, a police source told AFP.
The site has faced opposition from citizens’ groups who fear the project will cause irreversible harm to the local environment.
One of the guards was taken to hospital with respiratory problems and light injuries, while 27 people were initially detained and later released.
Later in the day, police reportedly detained another four persons and were in the process of carrying out DNA tests based on evidence found on the scene, such as unused mototov cocktails, bottles, a hood, cigarette butts and blood drops.
State broadcaster Net said police are seeking another four persons.
The company released a statement appealing to the authorities to defend legality and protect efforts to invest in Greece.
“All of the company’s activities in the region take place in accordance with legal procedures… the measures taken to protect natural environment more than cover the terms set by Greek and European law,” the statement said.
The citizens’ groups have been trying to halt the project since 2011, when the Greek government allowed Hellenic Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian company Eldorado Gold, to dig in the region.
Another Canadian company, TVX, began an operation in Halkidiki nearly two decades ago before pulling out in 2003.
The protesters are backed by the radical leftwing opposition party Syriza, now the second largest group in parliament.
In January, hundreds of people demonstrated in Athens, with some carrying felled oak and beech trunks on biers and wearing decontamination suits.
The mayor of Thessaloniki and local authorities support the new project, which is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the recession-hit country, whose unemployment rate has topped 26 percent.
Critics say the project will not only drain and contaminate local water reserves but also fill the air with hazardous chemicals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury.
A picturesque and forested peninsula, Halkidiki is a popular tourist destination, particularly for Russia and the neighbouring Balkan states.
Arsonists attack Hellas gold mine in northern Greece
Dozens of masked intruders have raided a gold mining operation in northern Greece, officials say.
The attackers used petrol bombs and flammable liquid to set fire to machinery, vehicles and containers, police told the Associated Press.
The Hellas Gold site is due to open in 2015 and expected to create new jobs in the recession-hit Halkidiki region.
But it has faced protests from environmentalists who say development would cause irreversible damage.
Citizens’ groups have been trying to halt the project since 2011, when the Greek government allowed Hellenic Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian company Eldorado Gold, to dig in the region.
In January, hundreds of Greeks took to the streets of Athens to demonstrate against the new mine.
‘Barely exploited’Up to 50 intruders raided the complex at Skouries after midnight on Sunday, fire fighters and police told AP on Sunday.
The arson attack caused extensive damage to machines, trucks and containers used as offices, authorities said.
A security guard was reported to have been injured in the attack.
Police detained 27 people, who were later released.
The Halkidiki area has a long history of mining for gold and other minerals, making it the centre of frequent bitter debates between residents and politicians.
Eldorado boss Eduardo Moura said the Hellas Gold project would “generate approximately 5,000 direct and indirect jobs in Greece”.
Authorities hope it will help to fight the crippling unemployment in the region as the country heads into its sixth year of recession.
“No-one doubts any longer that northern Greece is a source of mineral wealth, with a total wealth in metals exceeding 20bn euros (£17bn),” Deputy Energy and Environment Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou said in a recent parliamentary debate on mining operations in Halkidiki.
“We can no longer accept this being left unexploited or barely exploited.”
Critics, however, say the mining operation will destroy forests in the area, contaminate groundwater and pollute the air with chemical substances like lead, mercury and arsenic.
Opponents argue this will drive away tourism and damage farming and fishing.
Last year, residents launched legal proceedings to try and to stop the project.
But the country’s highest administrative court ruled in favour of Eldorado, citing Halkidiki’s high unemployment rate.
Judges also said there were no environmental concerns stemming from the investment.
Masked trespassers attack Eldorado’s subsidiary project in Greece, set machinery on fire
Close to 40 masked intruders stormed into the facilities of a gold mine project in northern Greece Sunday morning, setting machinery and offices on fire, AP reports.
The Skouries project in the Halkidiki peninsula, run by a subsidiary of Canadian Eldorado Gold (TSX: ELD) (NYSE:EGO), has been the target of numerous and —at times— violent protests by locals and activists who strongly oppose the gold-copper mine being built. They claim Hellas Gold’s operation, a firm 95% owned by Vancouver-based Eldorado, would devastate ancient forests and drive tourists away from the region.
Police said the attackers entered Hellas’ facility around 12.40 a.m. (2240 GMT), causing extensive damage with firebombs and flammable liquid. So far 27 people have been detained.
Despite ongoing opposition, Greek authorities support the endeavour, as it will create jobs and bring hundreds of millions into the struggling economy.
“In this difficult time — but also regardless of the circumstances — we owe it to ourselves to ensure the best possible exploitation of wealth this country has to offer to drive growth and bolster the economy,” AP quoted Deputy Energy and Environment Minister Asimakis Papageorgiou in January.
Opponents are not only worried about potential pollution. They also argue that unlike many other countries, the Greek state doesn’t get any royalties from mine concessions, so stands to gain only taxes and jobs.
Permits granted in 2004 for Stratoni, one of the Halkidiki mines currently operating and which is near Skouries, expire in 2026 but can be renewed twice for 25 years each time, free of charge.
Currently Eldorado is involved in four gold projects, all of them located in northern Greece.
Three of the mining prospects are at the planning stage. The fourth and largest, in the Halkidiki peninsula, was carried out more than 10 years ago another Canadian firm, TVX.
Thousands march in Greece against Eldorado Gold projects
Thousands of protesters marched Saturday in the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki against what they believe are environment-threatening gold mining projects, owned by Canadian Eldorado Gold Corp, (TSX:ELD) (NYSE:EGO).
According to Associated Press, riot police barred the about 3,000 people intended route to the Canadian Consulate.
While no incidents were reported, locals are divided about the company’s planned operations.
Currently, Vancouver-based Eldorado is involved in four gold projects, all of them located in northern Greece.
AP reports that three of the mining endeavours are at the planning stage. The fourth and largest, in the Halkidiki peninsula, was carried out more than 10 years ago another Canadian firm, TVX.