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Orthodox priest Christodoulos Aggelouglou has joined the protesters. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP)
Orthodox priest Christodoulos Aggelouglou has joined the protesters. (Nikolas Giakoumidis/AP)

Eldorado Gold’s big Greek mining problem Add to ...

Eldorado now has 1,200 workers at its sites; employment will peak at 2,500 during the construction phase then fall to 1,500 to 1,800 during the 27-year working life of the projects. Workers’ after-tax pay will range from €1,000 to €1,500 a month, a small fortune when local hotel jobs in the depressed economy pay only about €500.

Given the job creation opportunity, the approved EIA and Eldorado’s scandal-free history of mining development elsewhere, the company is astounded by the ferocity of the opposition, even if they know more locals support the mines’ development than not – 12 of the 16 villages are in favour of the expansion.

Even an influential priest from the local Orthodox church, Christodoulos Aggelouglou, 52, has joined the protesters. He said he does not believe the state and company claims that the mine will shower benefits on the region.

“The state has bankrupted the economy,” he said. “Now the same state is telling us that this project will create so many jobs?”

For its part, Eldorado is confident the mine development won’t be interrupted and will, as advertised, revive an economically moribund region. “It’s the key to foreign investment here,” Mr. Pitcher said. “If they can’t do it [with this investment], how will that influence other foreign investors?”

And the opponents? They vow to keep fighting as they appeal court decisions that have all gone in favour of the project. More mass protests seem inevitable and each is praying the gold price will fall to the point that Eldorado will scale back or kill its glittering enterprise.

“We live in paradise and I’m worried they will turn it into hell,” said Ms. Panagiotopoulou, the woman arrested in the Oct. 21 battle, as she gestured to the anti-Canada banner across the street.

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Eldorado snapshot

    

Eldorado Gold Corp. acquired Skouries and related properties in Greece through the 2011 takeover of European Goldfields for about $2.5-billion (U.S.) in shares in late 2011, while gold prices were flying high.

The company has doubled its production and reserves in the past five years though an ambitious acquisition and development program and now boasts proven and probable reserves of 25.7 million ounces of gold and 72.3 million ounces of silver. Eldorado has a target of more than doubling production to 1.5 million ounces a year by 2015. But shares have recently been caught in the downdraft of falling gold markets, and its key Greece gold development project is the target of intense protest.

About Eldorado

Headquarters:

Vancouver

Producing mines in Turkey, Brazil, Romania and China and Greece.

2012 results

Gold production:

656,324 ounces

Total cash costs per ounce:

$554

Revenue:

$1.15-billion

Profit:

$305.3-million

Earnings per share:

44 cents

Editor's note: A hill-side banner depicted in a photo in the accompanying gallery was earlier incorrectly translated as "water, mountain, health, future, negotiable." The current version has been corrected to read "water, mountain, health, future, non-negotiatable."

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