UPDATE 2-Greek judges annul government ban on Eldorado's mining licence

Mon Nov 2, 2015 1:37pm EST
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(Adds statement by court president in paragraph 4)

ATHENS Nov 2 (Reuters) - Greece's top administrative court ruled by majority it would annul a government decision which revoked Canada's Eldorado Gold mining licence in northern Greece, court officials said on Monday.

The Vancouver-based gold miner had appealed to Greece's top court to overturn a ban on its plans to develop a gold mine in a forested area of northern Greece, in a case widely seen as a test of the leftist government's approach to foreign investment.

"The court ruled that the reasons cited by the energy ministry to suspend Eldorado's licence - of failing to carry out laboratory safety tests in Greece - was not sufficient to revoke its permit," a court official said on Monday.

Although court officials said the majority of the judges ruled in favour of overturning the government decision on Eldorado, a statement from the President of the Court later said consultations on the matter would continue.

Eldorado has put in more than $600 million since 2012 and plans to invest another $1 billion in its quest for gold, copper and zinc in Halkidiki.

But Greece's left-wing government revoked its permit in August, saying that the tests for a so-called flash-melting method the company will use to ensure that there will be no environmental damage did not take place on the spot but outside Greece.

Eldorado then suspended all its activities at the mine and made two thirds of its 1,300 workers temporarily redundant but resumed work after a favourable temporary court ruling last month. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; editing by Susan Thomas)