Greece okays disputed gold mining project

Greece on Wednesday gave a controversial Canadian gold mining project the final go-ahead, despite local protests saying it will cause irreversible damage to the environment.

Greece's highest administrative court ruled that the 29 complaints lodged by villagers against the project in the northeastern region of Halkidiki were "unfounded".

Citizens' groups have been trying to halt the project since 2011, when the Greek government gave Hellenic Gold -- a subsidiary of Canadian firm Eldorado Gold -- permission to dig in the region.

In recent months, several rallies have been held to protest the mining, and in February, activists firebombed the mining worksite, injuring a guard and damaging equipment.

The latest protests were held in Athens and Greece's second-largest city Thessaloniki on Saturday, drawing some 3,500 people.

While the investment is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the recession-hit country -- where the unemployment rate has topped 27 percent -- opponents say it will drain and contaminate local water reserves and fill the air with hazardous chemicals including lead, cadmium, arsenic and mercury.

Halkidiki, a picturesque and forested peninsula, is a popular destination for tourists, especially from Russia and the neighbouring Balkan states.


Eldorado Gold