VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Canadian gold producer Eldorado Gold confirmed on Wednesday that it had received the Olympias operating permit, as well as the modified electromechanical installation permit for the tailings management facility at Kokkinolakkas, from the Greek Ministry of Energy and Environment.
The permits were issued in the wake of mounting pressure on the Greek government to expedite permit approvals for the Kassandra mines, which include the Skouries and Olympias projects, as well as the operating Stratoni mine, in Halkidiki.
The announcement followed on the heels of Eldorado on Monday threatening to halt further investment at its Greek development projects, and mere days before the company and the Greek government head to arbitration on Friday.
The Olympias operating permit is valid for three years from the date of issue. Eldorado employs about 950 people at Olympias.
However, the Vancouver-based company advised that it was still awaiting approval of the technical study for the old Olympias mine closure and the installation permits for the paste plants at Olympias, as well as the amended electromechanical installation permit for the Skouries flotation plant, and to hear on other matters including, but not limited to, the relocation of antiquities at the Skouries site.
Eldorado advised that it was also awaiting further detail from the Greek government regarding the pending arbitration process; the government has publicly indicated that formal notification will be issued for this on Friday. Eldorado said it was confident that any potential arbitration will once more demonstrate that the company had adhered to all applicable laws and regulations.
The company, which maintains a TSX and NYSE listing, said it would reassess its investment options in Greece after it had received approval and receipt of all the required permits, as well as clarity around the arbitration process and support from a government open to discussions surrounding the use and implementation of best available technologies.
"This is a positive step forward; however, we are still waiting on other permits. The company would prefer open dialogue with the government rather than legal recourse and arbitration, but we are confident that any potential arbitration will again demonstrate Eldorado's adherence to all applicable laws and regulations and its commitment to developing its Greek assets safely, responsibly and with utmost care for the environment,” stated Eldorado president and CEO George Burns.
Burns said on Monday that the miner would not continue to “put capital at risk” without the necessary permits and licences for the construction and development of the Skouries and Olympias projects, in which it had already invested $750-million to date.
Eldorado paid nearly $2-billion for the Kassandra mines in 2012 and Burns said that, since the acquisition, the group had invested an additional $1-billion in Greece.
In addition to the Kassandra and Stratoni mines, Eldorado also owns the Perama Hill and Sapes projects, in Thrace. These assets are already on care and maintenance, pending approvals for an environmental impact study for Perama Hill and a drilling permit for Sapes.
The positive news sent the company's TSX-listed stock soaring 23% in early trading on Wednesday, to C$2.97 apiece.