March 22, 2016 / 12:21 PM / 4 years ago

Eldorado Gold gets permit for Olympias mine in Greece

A general view of the construction site of a mine of Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Eldorado Gold Corp, in Skouries, in the Halkidiki region, northern Greece February 15, 2015. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

ATHENS (Reuters) - Canadian miner Eldorado Gold’s (ELD.TO) Greek unit Hellas Gold has been granted a license by Greece’s environment ministry for its Olympias mine, it said on Tuesday, removing a hurdle to develop its project in the north of the country.

The Vancouver-based miner had been in a dispute with the Greek government over plans to develop gold mines in a forested area in northern Greece, with the leftist government voicing environmental concerns over the project.

The government revoked Eldorado’s permit in August over environmental tests on the project but Greece’s top administrative court annulled the government’s decision in January.

Tensions came to a head that month, when Eldorado said Athens was delaying the necessary permits and halted construction of its Skouries mine in Halkidiki. It warned it would do the same at its Olympias mine if it did not secure necessary permits by the end of March.

The permit granted on Tuesday allows Eldorado to set up a processing plant in Olympias, which is crucial for the development of the mine.

“The project can now continue so that from the first quarter of 2017 the ore that will be produced at the mine will be processed at the Olympias facility,” Hellas Gold said in a statement.

Hellas Gold is still awaiting another license for the Skouries mine, which will determine whether construction work will restart at the site. Eldorado halted the Skouries project in January, laying off some 500 workers.

It has invested about $700 million to develop the Skouries and Olympias mines since 2012 and plans to invest another $1 billion in the projects.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, writing by George Georgiopoulos; editing by Susan Thomas

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