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Environmentalists will not allow gold mining in Halkidiki

08 March 2013 / 22:03:19  GRReporter
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The exploitation of gold deposits in Halkidiki has caused serious clashes between the residents of the region and the central government. On the one hand, the investor Hellas Gold Ltd. supported by the government insists that the mining activities are environmentally safe and that they have no serious negative impacts on the flora and fauna of the region. The residents of Halkidiki supported by political and environmental organizations, on the other hand, insist on terminating the gold mining project because it is a threat to the waters of the region.

Neither of the two parties gives way to the pressure which has increased the tension. Last month, 50 people attacked and burned the mines of Hellas Gold Ltd. Genetic material of seven of them was found and lead to their arrest provoked violent clashes between the local people and the police forces that had come to search the region of Skouries village, Halkidiki. Despite the damage, the company does not give up its investment in northern Greece. Local people, in turn, are worried that the use of a large amount of the water resources of the region in the processing process will destroy the ecosystem.

"There is a danger of the state of the waters in the area. The investor itself recognizes this," states the Callisto organization.

"There is a danger of the state of the waters in the area. The investor itself recognizes this. It states that the regional waters will be used for the extraction of gold," Spiros Psaroudas, head of the Callisto organization for wild life and nature told GRReporter.

"In their research reports, the investors cannot prove that the exploitation of the mine will be compatible with the maintenance of the natural balance and agriculture in the area. The agricultural school in Thessaloniki conducted a study recently that has proved the assertion that gold mining will not allow the parallel development of agriculture, stock-breeding and beekeeping."

Psaroudas makes it clear that the natural resources of the region do not allow maintaining the sustainable state of the environment and the settlements if gold mining is triggered because it will exhaust almost the entire amount of local water resources.

The Callisto organization studied the change in the lives and environment of wolves and jackals in the area of ​​Halkidiki, and the population status of otters in the same area. "Jackals and wolves below the 31st parallel are strictly protected species according to a decision of the European Commission. No investment or industrial projects can be developed unless the European Commission gives a specific permission for them. None of the Greek government was able to obtain permission from the European authorities for the project in Halkidiki" stresses Spiros Psaroudas before GRReporter.

He explains that the otter has a special status in the measurement of the stability of a specific region. Its population in the area around the mines has been affected because the activities of the mining company have diverted the natural waters. "If there is a problem with the species, as in this case, the project investors are obliged to offer before the industrial activity starts an alternative model of activity that will allow the protected species to restore its normal population," states the specialist.

The members of the environmental organization are of the opinion that the companies and the contractors rarely follow the recommendations, which are in line with the findings of the researches on the environment. The state, in turn, does not have the necessary capacity and willingness to supervise the investors as a result of which the environment and local communities are the major victims of the lack of control. The state, in turn, does not have the necessary capacity and willingness to supervise the investors as a result of which the environment and local communities are the major victims of the lack of control. "This investment should not and will not be made," says the environmentalist. According to him, there are no alternative and friendlier methods to the environment that can be used in the gold mining process. Although the company has pledged not to use cyanide in the processing activities, the environmentalists are not convinced that this method will not be applied in practice.
 
"The main issue of concern of the residents of the area is that natural water resources will be destroyed. Secondly, gold mining without cyanide will be applied for the first time in the mines of Halkidiki. Residents and scientists express our serious concerns that if the new method fails, the company will inevitably resort to the traditional method that uses cyanide."

The sharp conflict between the local people and the government has burst forth in the most inopportune time as commented by Greek economic observers. The government is making all efforts to convince foreign investors that Greece is finally ready to develop new projects and new investments. At the same time, the reality shows that investors, which are already established in the Greek market are not threatened with failure due to lack of control. There are some talks in the public space that the public pressure is the result of specific interests. The argument of people, however, remains strong. They are adamant that they will not prefer the devastation of the region to the extraction of the precious metal.

 

Tags: Crime newsSocietySkouriesGold minesHalkidikiProtests
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