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Greece chases a fool’s golden rescue to their crisis

“The model of wasteful consumption, environmental destruction and collusion between economic interests and politics led the country to bankruptcy,” said Chrysogelos. “Strengthening this model in the name of crisis is not the solution.”

Greek protest against gold miningGreek protest against gold mining

Gold mining in the northern Chalkidiki peninsula of Greece, will have catastrophic effects on the local environment and tourism economy, according to Green spokespeople, including Green MEP Nikos Chrysogelos speaking at a press conference in the European Parliament on January 24.  

Chalkidiki is a popular vacation spot for many Greeks and is well-known for its natural beauty.  The mine development plans include razing 420 acres of forests that have stood for hundreds of years.

Ten years ago, Greece’s highest court ruled that the amount of environmental damage that mining in the Chalkidiki area would cause was not worth the economic gain.  

“This whole area is a forest which holds the largest water reserves in Chalkidiki,” said activist Apostolos Papageorgiou at the press conference. “The forest and aquifers will be irreparably damaged by the activities that the mining company has already commenced in the area, all these who have caused environmental damage so far, have been indemnified by law by the former Deputy Minister of Finance, while the new company that recently took over the mines has been relieved of all liability in advance even for future damages.”  

Speaking alongside Papageorgiou  were George Zoumpas and Athanasios Krommidas – together, three activists fighting to stop further progress on the mine, which covers roughly 317 square kilometres. 

©European Greens - Nikos Chrysogelos (MEP)©European Greens - Nikos Chrysogelos (MEP) has been adamant in his opposition to the gold mining developments in the northern Chalkidiki peninsula of Greece. "“The model of wasteful consumption, environmental destruction and collusion between economic interests and politics led the country to bankruptcy"
“We cannot close our eyes to the impact on the environment, the local economy and society – all well documented by scientific institutions – of a gigantic project that will destroy Chalkidiki and other parts of the country,” said Papageorgiou

The licence for the mine, which was awarded to Canadian firm Eldorado Gold Corporation, is seen as some as proof positive of Greece’s willingness to sell off her assets to service their national debt, without any consideration of the consequences. 

The economic returns to Greece from the mine are likely to be minimum. The area has a proven mineral wealth of €25 billion.  But, the licence was granted without any guarantee of a percentage of the earnings for Greece.  The mine is based in a densely populated area that hosts a range of economic activities that are incompatible with mining.  According to Zoumpas, “Instead of protecting the basic rights of the citizens, the Greek state… is protecting the interests of a private corporation.”

“The model of wasteful consumption, environmental destruction and collusion between economic interests and politics led the country to bankruptcy,” said Chrysogelos. “Strengthening this model in the name of crisis is not the solution.”

The Greens in Greece recognise that gold mining companies are using the crisis to achieve their short-term goals, ignoring alternative ways to develop local economies. The Chalkidiki mines are expected to operate  between ten and 15 years – what then?

“The national interest is best served by protecting the unique biodiversity and turn our economy towards sustainable activities that still manages to develop precious metals,” said Chrysogelos.  “There are many alternatives to hazardous primary extraction of precious metals. 

“The Belgian company Umicore focuses on sustainable and genuinely green alternatives. [Umicore] extracts metals, like gold, from hazardous electronic waste, from the mountains of discarded televisions, computers and mobile phones produced by European consumers every year, while describing [their] own activities as ‘aboveground mining,’”   

Selling off state assets to mining companies is not the answer. Ensuring that local economies see appropriate investment in sustainable industry is the best way to fight unemployment.  


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Comments

NeaRoda Tourist

About 4 years ago

You are so right. I am just on vacation here and see many demonstrations in the little villages and the people desperately fighting for this space, which should concern so many more people! I spoke to many greek people here and I cannot imagine the damage this gold operation would do not only do to the stunning landscape around here, but also to the people and the environmental heritage they have with these green hills, which will never be the same once El Dorado would start digging through this beauty. Please keep on fighting against it! I know how hard it is to convince everyone that economic gain is not only a short pleasure but also nothing sustainable. The greek workers that they might employ for digging will soon be on the road again, once the dirt work is done. Isn't there anything I can do from my perpective as a citizen of the European Union? Please, European Greens, give us something we can do to stop this nonsense!

 

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