Cyprus Mail

Greece aims to halt gold mine, cancel development of former airport

By Angeliki Koutantou

Greece’s new government will take steps to halt a Canadian-run gold mine project and aims to cancel a development scheme at Athens’ former airport, pressing ahead with plans to roll back the country’s privatisation programme.

The government is dominated by the left-wing Syriza party, which has for years opposed the Skouries gold mine in northern Greece, operated by Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold Corp.

It argues that the project, among the biggest foreign investments in the country, is harming the environment.

“We are against the gold investment in Skouries and we will use all possible legal means to back our position,” Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told lawmakers on Tuesday, reinforcing signals that the government will stick to anti-privatisation pledges made during campaigning for last month’s vote.

Lafazanis, who represents Syriza’s more radical wing, said the government would also look to annul development plans for the capital’s former airport at Hellenikon.

“The plans for developing Hellenikon are extremely destructive to the environment,” Lafazanis said. “We will review this scandalous purchase with the aim to cancel it.”

Greece agreed last year to sell the Hellenikon site to Greek developer Lamda, backed by China’s Fosun and an Abu Dhabi-based firm, for 915 mln euro, pending parliamentary approval.

Investors were expected to spend about 6 billion euros turning the abandoned area into a tourist and business centre.

The government has already said it will cancel the sale of a stake in Greece’s two biggest ports, Piraeus and Thessaloniki, and in power grid operator ADMIE.

A finance ministry official was quoted by local media as saying that Greece was in favour of privatisating Piraeus Port. But the finance ministry dismissed the reports on Tuesday.

The privatisations of the country’s dominant power utility PPC and state natural gas company DEPA have also been halted.

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