Greek police fired tear gas at dozens of Eldorado Gold workers rallying outside the energy ministry in Athens on Wednesday to protest against potential job losses after the Canadian company threatened to suspend investment at its Greek mines.
Eldorado Gold Corp announced the possible suspension on Monday, blaming delays in getting permits, only days after the leftist-led government urged investors to show confidence in Greece as it emerges from crisis.
About 100 workers, in yellow vests, rallied outside the ministry early on Wednesday unfurling a banner reading “Occupation” in front of a police cordon. Some of them stormed into the building, according to one police official.
Police later fired some rounds of tear gas at the protesters.
The company blames the government for not granting it all the necessary permits for its Skouries and Olympias projects, which represent one of the biggest foreign investments in the country. It says it employs about 2,000 people in Greece, where unemployment stands at 21.2 per cent, the eurozone’s highest.
The projects have provoked violent protests by locals who fear they will ruin the northern region of Halkidiki, a landscape of pristine beaches and lush forests.
The case has been a flashpoint with the authorities and a test of Greece’s resolve to push ahead with foreign investments.
It is sensitive for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ Syriza party, which strongly opposed the investment before coming to power in 2015. The government now says it wants the project as long as it is “environmentally and economically sound”.
Differences have dragged on for years over testing methods to comply with environmental regulations. An arbitration process is expected to begin this week.