November 18, 2016 / 5:27 PM / 2 years ago

UPDATE 1-Greece approves permit for Eldorado's Skouries gold mine -source

(Adds company comment.)

ATHENS, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Greece has approved a permit application by Canadian gold miner Eldorado to build a plant at its Skouries gold mine in northern Greece, a senior Greek energy ministry source said on Friday.

After years of confrontation with the Greek government over environmental concerns, Vancouver-based Eldorado halted development at its project in the forested Halkidiki peninsula in January. It laid off most of its 600 workers, saying the government had been delaying necessary permits.

The miner resumed preparatory work for construction at the site in June after it received approval of an updated technical study. It plans to start production in 2019.

In an emailed statement on Friday, a company spokeswoman said the ministry had approved an amendment to a technical study of the Skouries plant but declined to say whether that meant the permit was approved.

A source at the energy ministry said Greece approved Eldorado’s amended plan to build an enrichment plant in Skouries earlier this month.

Asked about suggestions that the government has changed its stance toward the investment, the source said: “Nothing has changed in our policy.”

“If we hadn’t approved this licence, the company would have taken the case to the (country’s top administrative court)Council of State.”

Eldorado still needs a town planning permit for the Skouries plant, the source added. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Additional reporting by Allison Martell in Toronto; Editing by Alexander Smith and Dan Grebler)

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