What is going on with the goldmines in Halkidiki?

‘The mines of Halkidiki are a golden opportunity that should not go wasted’

11.000.000 euro: The price that Hellas Gold paid to obtain the mining rights of an area of 317.000 acres in northern Halkidiki (also Chalkidike). The contract was signed with the Greek State after the intervention of Mr. Pachtas, the then under-secretary of Finance and now mayor of Aristoteles municipality. There was no competition prior to the contract. There was a direct commission instead to a company that had only been established two days before (a company with a stock capital of 60.000 euro!). Moreover, according to the terms of the contract, the company was exempt from any obligation regarding the reparations that were due because of the ecological damage that the Canadian TVX Gold had caused in the area (the latter company disappeared one night into thin air leaving 472 workers without pay; in total the company’s debt towards workers was 17 million euro).

95.700.000 euro: The profit that Leonidas Bobolas, Dimitrios Koutras and Frank Timiş (the main stockholders of Hellas Gold) made after they gradually broke the company in fragments and then sold them to the mother multinational European Goldfields.

408.000.000 euro: The market value of the mines according to the estimate that a global financial services firm gave six months after their signing over by the Greek State, which means that the value grew 37 times higher than the price paid. This did not stop the then government to subsidize Hellas Gold with 15.000.000 euro.

2.300.000.000 euro: Today’s value of the mines in the Toronto Stock Exchange, after the takeover of European Goldfields by Eldorado Gold Corporation, which now controls 95% of Hellas Gold shares. Eldorado Gold is a Canada-based multinational corporation and its main investors are funds and banks like J.P.Morgan and Goldman Sachs.

15.436.000.000 (!) euro: The value of the minerals that lie in the mines of Halkidiki.

0 euro: The profit of the Greek State. According to the Mining Code, the ore resources and deposits of mines belong exclusively to the companies that exploit them, and there is no clause of rendering any mining rights to the State due to their exploitation. This is reason why the IMF/ECB/EU Troika refused to accept the proposal of the Greek government, which offered the Halkidiki mines as a guaranty during negotiations for the loan agreement.

‘Those who react are provocateurs and stand against progress’

Many people probably think that Eldorado Gold intends to construct underground mines with shafts, digging tunnels, etc. But this is not the case. The mega-project is going to focus on a process of extraction of the gold, a surface pit, which involves the extensive use of toxic cyanide. The cyanide concentration will turn the soil into garbage leaving behind toxic waste, mainly cyanide, arsenic and sulfuric acid.

0.8 grams: This is the amount of gold they can extract per ton in this area.

18 tons: That’s how many tons of waste rock will be excavated to yield one gold ring.

2 km: This is the length that the open pit is going to have in diameter, plus the waste lakes (pools of poison) where the toxic fluids are going to be ‘contained’.

3.000 acres of forest is going to be destroyed before the mining project can commence.

200 million tons: According to the company’s plan, this is the number of tons that are going to be extracted in the next few years. In the 2.500 years that mines have been operational in Halkidiki, only 30 million tons were mined; out of this number, the 20 million tons were extracted since 1927 by the businessman Bodossakis.

15.000.000 cubic meters of water is now pumped out in the mining area per year, the equivalent of a year’s water consumption for the entire Halkidiki Peninsula.

691.000 liters: The average consumption of water for one kilo of extracted gold. It is not however only the waste of water resources that is incalculable but also the danger and the consequences of an accident. In a goldmine of the Baia Mare region, Romania, in the year 2000 there was a leakage of 100.000 cubic meters of water with high concentrations of cyanide and other heavy metals. This contaminated water reached the Tesla River and then the Danube, causing pollution beyond Romania, Hungary and Serbia, poisoning drinking water resources, killing dozens of thousands of fish and inflicting the death of the neighboring ecosystems. This environmental accident in Baia Mare is considered the most catastrophic one in the history of the European continent, second only to the Chernobyl disaster. Thus, the destructiveness of the mines in the Skouries region in Halkidiki is not something that should concern only the inhabitants of the neighboring villages but the Halkidiki Peninsula as whole (since the groundwater supplies will inevitably be contaminated). In case of an accident it will definitely affect the densely populated area of Thessaloniki, too, and there is no telling where such a disaster will end…

‘Silence is gold’

Multinationals, bankers and local bosses are preparing themselves to put 15 billion euro in their pocket, to return only a few hundred temporary jobs, to some hundred employees that will be discarded when the company will be gone, leaving a dead place behind it.

Whoever is silent is an accomplice to the crime…


Open Coordinative of Thessaloniki against the goldmines

*translation by the Translation Counter-Information Network Contra Info

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