Greece says Eldorado must resume mining operations before talks on investment can continue

Thu Jan 14, 2016 4:11am EST
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ATHENS Jan 14 (Reuters) - Greece has asked Canadian miner Eldorado Gold Corp to reverse its decision to halt much of its Greek mining operations and safeguard jobs as a condition for the two parties to continue talks on the country's biggest foreign investment.

The Vancouver-based miner has been in a dispute with the Greek government after Energy Minister Panos Skourletis in August revoked the company's permit to further develop its Skouries mine in a forested area of northern Greece on environmental concerns.

The case is widely seen as a test of the leftist government's approach to foreign investment.

On Monday Eldorado said it would suspend construction at the Skouries project, putting more than 600 jobs at risk. It also warned it would do the same at its Olympias mine, risking another 500 jobs in northern Greece, if it didn't secure necessary permits by the end of March.

Skourletis met Eldorado Chief Executive Officer Paul Wright on Wednesday.

"I told him that a condition for any talks from now own is the company taking back its decision," the minister said after the meeting.

"We can't discuss while being blackmailed," he said.

Eldorado went to Greece's top administrative court to annul the government's decision to revoke its mining permit and a majority of judges in the court ruled in its favour in November, but the official decision is still pending.

The government has also delayed several other licences Eldorado needs to develop its projects on the Halkidiki peninsula.   Continued...