May 22, 2018 / 1:52 PM / 6 months ago

Greece aims to resolve Eldorado standoff over metallurgy plant soon

FILE PHOTO: An excavator moves next to a tree line at 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) - Greece aims to resolve a long-standing standoff with Canada’s Eldorado Gold Corp. (ELD.TO) over its development plans in the coming weeks, the energy ministry said on Tuesday.

The differences between Eldorado and the government over the miner’s plans to produce gold and other metals in the northern Greek region of Halkidiki have dragged on for years, mainly over environmental regulations.

Eldorado blames Greece for long delays in issuing necessary permits, while Athens says the company has submitted a deficient plan to build a metallurgical plant that will process ores mined in Skouries and Olympias.

The Vancouver-based miner last month received a positive ruling from arbitrators on its planned metallurgy plant in Greece but said it was still awaiting some permits for the project.

Greek Energy minister George Stathakis discussed the ruling with workers from Eldorado’s Greek unit on Tuesday.

“The main aim is to reach an agreement in the coming weeks within the spirit of the arbitration ruling,” the energy ministry quoted Stathakis as saying without elaborating.

The ministry did not specify what such an agreement will entail but said that the ruling meant that Greece had to make sure that Eldorado will produce pure gold, silver and zinc in the country.

An energy ministry official said the arbitration panel ruled that Eldorado has not violated its contractual obligations so far, however, the government wanted the miner to undertake specific commitments, including a timetable for when it will submit pending reports on the metallurgy plant.

Eldorado froze investment and suspended operations at its Skouries project last November, citing years of permit delays.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou, editing by Louise Heavens

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