Greece is entering its sixth year of recession, and needles to say it is still in big trouble. Under massive pressure from its three main creditors, the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission, it has worked to reduce the number of hurdles that projects need to overcome in order to gain approval. Many Greeks are fearful that this reduction will only lead to shortcuts that in the long run will harm the environment and cost far more to the people.
One such project that has been approved despite environmental opposition is the new mining site being developed by the Eldorado Gold Corporation of Canada (EGO). Bulldozers have already begun to clear hundreds of acres of forests in preparation for a giant open pit mine and gold processing plant. Eldorado has already opened other ageing mines in the same area, looking to extract copper, zinc, and lead from the hills in the northeast of the country, where Alexander the Great also once mined for gold.
The gold mine is expected to be finished within two years, and it is predicted that the project will create 1,500 local jobs by 2015 and provide an influx of money to the failing economy. Although many locals are not positive that the economic gain will be as great as forecast, claiming that it all depends on a constant high price for gold.
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Christos Adamidis, a local hotel owner, has stated that, “this will be a business for 10, maybe 15 years, and then this company will just disappear, leaving all the pollution behind like all the others did. If the price of gold drops, it might not even last that long. And in the meantime, the dust this will create will be killing off the leaves. There will be no goats or olives or bees here.”
Environmentalists have battled the construction of the mine from the beginning. Just ten years ago Greece’s highest court ruled that the mine was uneconomical in terms of the profit that would be gained from it compared to the damage to the environment that it would inevitably cause. The fact that the mine has now been approved is a sign that the Greek government will approve any development that may help their economy, no matter the cost to the environment. Other examples of Greece’s flexible morality when it comes to the choice between the economy and the environment can be seen in the decisions to sell thousands of acres to develop solar fields, and allow oil exploration activities close to precious ecosystems.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com