On June 23, Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May arrives in northern Greece at the invitation of the Ecologist Greens, the Greek equivalent of the Green Party, as they request Canadian GPC support to stop two proposed Canadian mining projects.
Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold Corporation plans to establish the Skouries gold mine in Halkidiki – the birthplace of Aristotle – and the Perama Hill gold mine in Thrace.
For the past year, thousands have been opposing the mines by holding large demonstrations and protests. Concerns focus on the impact the mines will have on water, old-growth forests, agriculture, tourism, and the social cohesion of their communities.
Funding for these proposed mines is coming from Export Development Canada, mutual funds, and public pensions. Eldorado Gold is currently the largest foreign investor in Greece.
Perama Hill will require the crushing of one million tonnes of rock in an open-pit mine (an average of 20 tonnes must be crushed for one gold ring about 1/3 of an ounce.) This rock will then be sprayed with cyanide, which often seeps into the water table. Local mayors in the region oppose this project.
The Skouries project will extract gold and copper from both open-pit and underground mines. There has been mining in Halkidiki for about 2500 years, but, until now, it has been small-scale and underground.
As Tolis Papageorgiou of Halkidiki, who was recently on a cross-Canada tour to inform Canadians of their struggle, said: “Our place is too small for this kind of development. It is not we who are saying ‘no’ to mining. It is the trees, the streams, the land itself that says “no”.
For now, the environmental assessment for the Perama Hill project has been suspended. The Skouries project has a general environmental approval, but still requires other specific permits. Eldorado Gold has started work, installing razor wire around the site, bulldozing trees, and digging up two streams to construct a tailings pond.
Before leaving Canada, Elizabeth May met with representatives of Eldorado Gold. She will also visit its Greek sites to hear the company’s viewpoint and speak to employees. She will participate in a press conference with the Green Ecologists on Thursday, June 27.
May will also travel to Athens to meet with government ministers responsible for mining-related activities. While there, she will investigate the possibility of corporate lawsuits against Canada under the proposed Canada-EU trade deal (CETA).