Skouries project is expected to produce an aggregate of 140,000oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper per annum
Canadian firm Eldorado Gold has signed a mandate letter for a credit-committee-sanctioned €680m finance facility from Greek banks to develop the Skouries project in northern Greece.
The mandate letter, which is subject to negotiation of definitive loan documentation and other conditions, includes a long-form term sheet comprising customary terms and conditions.
According to the feasibility study, the project is expected to cost $845m for development.
Eldorado president and CEO George Burns said: “We believe that Skouries is a world-class project that will have a lasting positive economic and social impact for Greece, the communities we work in, and other stakeholders.
“We remain confident in the feasibility study capital cost estimate of $845m, and with the project finance facility in place, the company has the balance sheet capacity to fund the remaining capital cost for completion of the project.
“We also continue to evaluate opportunities for complementary sources of financing. A final decision to re-start construction remains subject to board approval, which we expect to seek in the second half of 2022.”
Part of the Kassandra Mines Complex, the Skouries project is a gold-copper porphyry deposit located within the Halkidiki Peninsula of Northern Greece.
With an anticipated operational life of 20 years, the project is expected to produce an aggregate of 140,000oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper per annum.
The deposit is planned to be mined using a combination of conventional open pit and underground mining techniques, Eldorado said.
Through its first production, the project is expected to pay back the costs within less than four years and generate an average free cash flow of $215m per year in the first five years, Mining Technology writes.
Greek Kassandra gold mines got approval for amended environmental report
Hellas Gold announced that Greek Environment and Energy Ministry has approved the amended environmental impact assessment report for the Kassandra goldmines in northern part of the country. It said the development opens the way for the use of the dry deposition method in safe storage of mining residue at the Skouries mines in Halkidiki.
“This particular technology includes removing water from the mining activity residue, and then compressing and collecting them in specially prepared deposition areas,” Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Eldorado Gold said, underlining that the method will contribute to reducing the environmental impact in Skouries.
President and CEO of Eldorado Gold George Burns said the approval is a milestone for the Skouries project and the method is one the company applies in most of its mines. The dry deposition investment at Skouries shows the company’s commitment to making facilities and activities safer for people and the environment, he added.
Eldorado Gold investment contract revision with Greece
The new contract between Eldorado’s subsidiary Hellas Gold and Greece replaces a 2004 transfer agreement between the parties, securing continued operation and further development. Canada’s Eldorado Gold said it had inked an amended investment agreement with the Greek government covering the miner’s operations in the north of the country.
Hailed as a “new beginning”, the agreement covers the Vancouver-based company’s Skouries, Olympias and Stratoni/Mavres Petres mines and facilities in the country, collectively known as the “Kassandra Mines.” President and CEO George Burns said the agreement was mutually beneficial.
“For Eldorado, it provides investor protection mechanisms including a permitting framework similar to other large-scale foreign investment agreements in Greece.
“For the Hellenic Republic, it provides enhanced fiscal revenues, environmental benefits, and community development opportunities,” he said in a media statement.
Total investment committed has been increased to $3.1 billion from $1.4 billion. “All the three mines will remain open and will be upgraded, while a total of 3,070 of workers will be employed, up from 1,650 today,” Greek Energy Minister Kostas Skrekas said. The deal will allow the company to finish construction at Skouries and transition the project into production. It would also help it expand production at the Olympias gold-silver-lead-zinc mine to 650,000 tonnes a year. The revised plan covers upgrades to the port facilities at Stratoni to allow for bulk shipment of concentrates and boost of exploration work at Mavres Petres deposit, part of the company’s Stratoni project. Eldorado has also committed to continue studying on-site gold processing methods in order to reduce the operations’ environmental footprint.
The company’s projects in northern Greece have repeatedly stalled over licensing hold ups and environmental concerns. In 2017, the miner halted all operations in the country due to government delays in issuing permits for Skouries and Olympias, two of the company’s key assets. While Eldorado resumed activities shortly after, progress at its projects has also been hindered by community opposition revolving around the possible environmental impacts of gold mining in a densely forested area. The company has submitted revised proposals since, focusing on the use of best-available techniques (BAT) at the European Union level, as well as global best practices, such as dry-stack tailings. The country’s government has responded by granting the miner some key permits.
Greece and Eldorado, the country’s biggest foreign investor, have been negotiating the new investment contract for over a year, as the state seeks higher royalties from mining projects and job creation. The agreement will now be formally submitted to the Greek Parliament for ratification, with a vote expected to take place in an upcoming Parliamentary session. The nation’s conservative government has vowed to attract foreign investment to boost an economy that shrank by a quarter during a decade-long financial crisis.
Eldorado Gold signs new deal with Greece
In order to govern the further development, construction and operation of the Skouries, Olympias and Stratoni/Mavres Petres mines and facilities in northern Greece, collectively the Kassandra Mines, Hellas Gold SA has entered into an amended Investment Agreement with the Hellenic Republic, Eldorado Gold Corporation has announced. Hellas Gold is wholly-owned subsidiary of Eldorado. The Agreement amends the 2004 Transfer Agreement between Hellas Gold SA and the Hellenic Republic, and provides a modernised legal and financial framework to allow for the advancement of Eldorado’s investment in the Kassandra Mines.
Eldorado stated: “The Agreement is mutually beneficial to Eldorado and the Hellenic Republic. For Eldorado, it provides investor protection mechanisms including a permitting framework similar to other large-scale foreign investment agreements in Greece. For the Hellenic Republic, it provides enhanced fiscal revenues, environmental benefits, and community development opportunities.”
The Agreement includes an optimised Investment Plan for the Kassandra Mines which will allow for:
-Completion of construction at Skouries and transition of the project into production;
-Expansion of Olympias to 650,000 t/y;
-Upgrades to the port facilities at Stratoni to allow for bulk shipment of concentrates;
-Further investment in exploration at Mavres Petres-Stratoni;
-Continued study of on-site gold processing methods.
The Agreement will be formally submitted to the Greek Parliament for ratification, with a vote expected to take place in an upcoming parliamentary session. The Agreement takes effect once published in the Greek Government Gazette, which follows parliamentary ratification.
“Today is a major milestone, marking a new beginning for the Kassandra Mines and for Eldorado Gold in Greece,” said George Burns, President and CEO. “This agreement is the culmination of dedicated, determined efforts and reflects a true desire from both parties to deliver a commercial framework that can realise the potential of the Kassandra Mines for all stakeholders. Both Olympias and Skouries have the potential to be tier-one assets that, when combined with the rest of our portfolio, will be transformational for Eldorado.
“We now have a modernised investment agreement that will provide a stable, commercial path for Eldorado in Greece, as well as a strong precedent for future investment in the country once ratified by the Greek Parliament. Together, we are building a positive legacy for generations to come as we continue to commit to operating responsibly and with care for local communities and the environment.”
Key benefits of the agreement
-Investor protection mechanisms, similar to other large-scale foreign investment agreements in Greece;
-A permitting framework allowing for a clear path to production and stable operations;
-Increased fiscal revenues for all levels of government, including a 10% increase in royalty rates for all contained metals;
-Enhanced opportunities for local communities, including the creation of approximately 3,000 jobs and an $80 million commitment to community projects over the life of the mines; and
-Reduced environmental footprint through the use of best-available techniques (BAT) at the EU level, as well as global best practices, such as dry-stack tailings, improved water management systems and other design and monitoring improvements.
Next steps at Skouries
The company is advancing several key pieces of technical work on the Skouries project, including additional engineering and feasibility-level updates to the capital cost estimate. An application for dry-stack tailings was submitted to the Ministry of Energy & Environment in late 2020 with approval expected once the Ministry has completed its review. The Company is continuing to evaluate financing options for Skouries. Once re-started, the company expects to complete construction in approximately 2.5 years.
Skouries is a high-grade gold-copper porphyry project that is partially constructed and currently in care and maintenance. Skouries is expected to operate for approximately 23 years based on current reserves, initially as an open pit and underground mine, followed by underground mining only.
Highlights of the project as outlined in the Technical Report for Skouries dated January 1, 2018 include:
-Proven and Probable reserves of 3.8 million ounces of gold at 0.74 g/t Au and 1.7 billion pounds of copper at 0.49% Cu, support a 23 year mine life at an average annual production of 140,000 oz of gold and 67 million pounds of copper with production from both open-pit and underground
-Estimated capital cost of $689.2 million, including $87 million in contingency, to fully develop both the open pit and Phase I of the Skouries underground, generating an estimated after-tax project NPV $925 million at a 5% discount rate, an internal rate of return of 21.2%, and a payback period of 3.4 years (at a gold price of $1,300/oz and a copper price of $2.75/lb).
-The project design specifies a dramatically-reduced environmental footprint reflecting some of the best-available control technology, and utilisation of filtered dry stack tailings.
Olympias is a gold-silver-lead-zinc mine that Eldorado refurbished and put back into production at the end of 2017. Olympias produced over 58,000 oz of gold in 2020. The company’s current guidance shows production increasing to between 65,000 and 70,000 oz of gold a year in 2023. Olympias has a mine life of 21 years based on current reserves and outlined in the most-recent Technical Report.
Eldorado reports drilling results in Turkey and Greece mines
Eldorado, the Vancouver-based miner said the latest results of its brownfields exploration drilling programs in Turkey and Greece also extended known mineralization near current or planned development.
At Efemcukuru, in Turkey, the miner will continue its resource expansion drilling for the remainder of the year, focusing on the Kokarpinar vein system. A resource conversion drilling program is planned for 2021.
In Greece, Eldorado disclosed it had recently experienced a short-term reduction in operations at its Olympias mine, caused by limited workforce availability due to the global pandemic. The miner noted its Stratoni facility remains temporarily closed, but it said is going ahead with a technical study for test drilling at its Mavres Petres deposit, part of Stratoni. The gold miner, through its local subsidiary Hellas Gold, acquired Kassandra mines from the state in 2004. The property includes the Stratoni silver-lead-zinc mine, which is made up of two deposits: Madem Lakkos and Mavres Petres.
Greece and Eldorado have been in talks over a revised investment plan that would bring the government higher royalties from mining projects. It is also expected to boost jobs.
The company also has mining, development and exploration operations in Romania and Brazil.
Eldorado Gold got permission for test drilling in northern Greece
Mavres Petres deposit test drilling is a part of the Eldorado Gold’s Stratoni project, in the northern Greece. Greece has given Canada’s company the green light to conduct a technical study for test drilling at Mavres Petres.
The Vancouver-based miner, through its local subsidiary Hellas Gold, acquired Kassandra mines form the state in 2004. The property includes the Stratoni silver-lead-zinc mine, which is made up of two deposits: Madem Lakkos and Mavres Petres.
The approved study involves some 59 drills to further explore Mavres Petres. It seeks to determine whether Stratoni mine’s life can be extended, Greece’s Minister of Environment and Energy, Kostis Hatzidakis, told local news outlet Iefimerida.
Greece and Eldorado have been in talks over a revised investment plan that would bring the government higher royalties from mining projects. It is also expected to boost jobs.
Stratoni is slated to process 230,000 tonnes of ore at grades of 6% lead, 8% zinc and 157 grams per tonne silver this year. Capital investment Stratoni is expected to be between $5 and $10 million including equipment purchases and facilities upgrades.
Greece Larco Mining one step from closure
After entering receivership status in March to be sold to a private investor or declare bankruptcy, the Larco General Mining and Metallurgical Company is one step from closure.
The problematic state company suffers losses of $8,000 per ton of nickel output, and with a daily output of 15 tons, the company is posting losses of $120,000 every day.
However, it has been paying some of its employees’ salaries normally associated with profit-making multinationals: There have been cases of workers who received handouts if they worked on their leave days, while one person collected handouts both as a director and as a supervisor.
Greece’s Council of State in favor of the Hellas Gold mining company
The overturn of a 2016 development ministry decision to derisively reject a necessary technical study
Hellas Gold, a subsidiary of Canadian mining giant Eldorado Gold, submitted the study in order to begin operation of its metallurgical unit at the Skouries gold mining concession, in the eastern part of Halkidiki prefecture.
At the time, the leftist SYRIZA government and relevant energy minister Panos Skourletis returned the study, without approval, to the firm “for reasons of substantive deficiency and inaccuracy.”
Four years later, and now with pro-market and pro-business New Democracy (ND) party in government, a majority of CoS justices again ruled in favor of Hellas Gold – the latest legal victory for the concessionaire, which has racked up consecutive legal judgments in its favor against the central government, regional authorities and numerous lawsuits by individuals and groups of plaintiffs.
The metallurgical unit in question is the principal processing plant, where mined deposits yield the final raw material, gold in this case.
Greek lawmakers approved a restructuring plan for nickel producer Larco
The European Commission said it was taking Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its failure to recover €135.8-million of illegal state aid to Larco which is struggling under heavy debt.
Larco, which is 55% owned by the state, is floundering under half a billion euros in debt owed to suppliers, contractors, banks and pension funds, including €350-million in arrears to power utility Public Power Corp.
The Greek parliament cleared an amendment which stipulates the appointment of an administrator in March to liquidate Larco, cut wage costs by an average 25% and push ahead with a fast-track tender to sell a smelting plant and some of its mines.
“This plan is Larco’s last chance,” Energy Minister Kostis Hatzidakis told lawmakers who debated the law. “I hope this effort succeeds and a reliable investor is found.”
If the administrator fails to sell 75% of Larco assets within 12 months from appointment, Larco will have to file an application for bankruptcy, according to the new legislation.
Industry sources have said private equity fund Global Special Opportunities might be interested in Larco, which employs about 1 000 people in Greece.
EU Takes Greece to Court Over Illegal State Aid to Mining Company Larco
The European Commission announced that it will bring Greece to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for failing to recover state aid once given to Greek mining company Larco.
Athens failed to comply with a 2017 ruling by the Union’s Supreme Court which condemned Greece for its failure to implement the Commission’s 2014 decision requiring it to recover €135.8 million of illegal aid granted to Larco General Mining & Metallurgical Company.
The 2014 decision by the Commission ruled that Larco had indeed received state aid which resulted in the company having an undue advantage over its competitors, in breach of European Union state aid rules.
The European Commission is now asking the ECJ to impose on Greece a lump sum fine amounting to approximately €3,709 per day for the period between November 9, 2017 and the date Greece complies with the Court’s ruling, or alternatively, the date of delivery of the Court’s second ruling.
The minimum fine that Athens would now have to pay would not be lower than €1.3 million.
Larco is a ferronickel production company which operates mines in the regions of Euboea, Neo Kokkino, Kastoria and Servia in Greece.