Greece is desperate for sources of new revenues and new jobs. Mining for precious metals may provide both.
Canada’s El Dorado Gold Corporation has already begun bulldozing hundreds of acres for an open pit gold mine, also opening mines for copper, zinc, and lead from the hills close by.
The activity could create 1500 jobs by 2015. It also is likely to leave environmental devastation.
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Greece’s highest court ruled 10 years ago that the environmental cost of precious metals mining was not worth the economic benefits.
But for a country so desperate for resources, the promise of a new business that could bring in revenues for 10 to 15 years is hard to ignore.
The mining may not last that long if the price of gold drops. But there are plans to sell off areas of the country for solar fields and to allow oil companies to conduct exploration close to delicate ecosystems.
The environmentalists see laws getting rolled back in an effort to reduce impediments to investing.
Mandatory environmental impact reviews have been reduced and Greece’s $1 billion environmental fund is likely to be absorbed into the general budget.
Some of the rollbacks were mandated
by Greece’s troika of creditors. But no other revenue-producing project has caused the outcry from the public than the resumption of mining operations in Greece’s mineral-rich hills.
The public anger is yet another reflection of the distrust of the Greek government by its citizens, primarily over the process the government uses to award contracts.