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Concerns about Skouries mine highlighted at World Social Forum

While in Tunisia (just across the Mediterranean Sea from Greece), the Blue Planet Project met with Greek activists Maria Kanelopoulo and Theo Karyotis. They are concerned about Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold pursuing its Skouries project — a processing plant and open pit gold mine — near the town of Ierissos in the Halkidiki peninsula of Greece, which is set to open by 2015.

The New York Times reports, “Only 10 years ago, (opponents of the mine) point out, Greece’s highest court ruled that the amount of environmental damage that mining would do here was not worth the economic gain.” Already hundreds of acres of forest have been flattened by bulldozers in preparation for the mine. “Opponents (also) worry about dust and ground water pollution.” Those worried about the impact of the mine on local tourism say that the dust from the mine means “there will be no goats or olives or bees here.”

While it has been argued that Greece is really now governed by the troika of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission, and that it has been forced by these creditors to streamline environmental approval processes for mines and other environmentally damaging projects, at the same time, “the government failed to make sure that Greece received a percentage of the earnings (from the Eldorado mine), a common practice in mining contracts.”

In Greece, the minister of Energy and Climate Change is the country’s former finance minister George Papaconstantinou. “(He) is now embroiled in a scandal over whether he removed family members from a list of Greeks with Swiss bank accounts. Shortly after his appointment, the permit for Eldorado’s mining plans was issued, though it is still under review in the courts.”

The New York Times article is here.

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