Gold, Molotov Cocktails, Rubber Bullets, Teargas: A Rift In Greece

Wolf Richter's picture

Wolf Richter

A Greek economist’s terse sarcasm: “GDP has decreased by €47 billion in the last five years. Economy is expected to contract by 3.8% in 2013, the 6th straight year of recession! Unemployment has reached 24.7%. Youth unemployment... 55.4%! No worries though—we have the sun, the sea, our cultural background.” And they have something else: GOLD. 

Last year, the Canadian company Eldorado Gold Corp. shelled out $2.4 billion to acquire European Goldfields, which had been struggling for years to develop its Skouries and Olympias gold mines in Greece. Eldorado also owns the Perama Hill project. The three mines are expected to produce 345,000 ounces a year. The Australian company Glory Resources Ltd. is developing its Sapes mine with an expected production of 80,000 ounces a year. The four mines together would produce 425,000 ounces of gold by 2016, or about $750 million at today’s price—making Greece the largest gold producer in Europe.

Alas, development has been blocked for a decade by bureaucratic impossibilities, environmental groups, leftist political parties, and local residents—despite the manna of tax revenues, royalties, and jobs. Well, 1,700 jobs for 1.17 million unemployed.

But they’re just scratching the surface, so to speak. “We think Greece has the potential to be a major gold producer,” said Glory Chairman Jeremy Wrathall. He found it “bizarre” that the country was “virtually unexplored,” and he was full of hope that it had “woken up to the potential of the mining industry.”

Eduardo Moure, Eldorado’s general manager for Greece, had similar visions. “I think people realize we are part of the solution,” he said, convinced that they would “come to realize that mining can be a positive force for change.”

Operations are most advanced at Eldorado’s Olympias and Skouries mines in Halkidiki, a peninsula in Northern Greece marked by its three “fingers”—including Athos, whose Mount Athos is a world heritage site. Tourism is by far the largest industry and employer. And in July 2011, the Environment Ministry awarded the licenses to mine gold.

Tensions flared up in late March when protesters occupied the road leading to the Skouries quarry on Mount Kakkavos and scuffled with workers who were trying to get through. Then, in the nearby village of Ierissos, a municipal council meeting that had convened to discuss the project was broken up by protesters who overturned cars and fought street battles with riot police that had been brought in to keep things under control. A member of the protesting committee later told the paper Kathimerini, “A complete cessation of mining is the only action we are prepared to accept from the state.”

Local residence associations, cooperatives, and professional groups filed six appeals with the Council of State, Greece’s highest court, to stop further mining activity, arguing that it would destroy local forests and the ecosystem. On July 24, the court threw out the first appeal on the grounds that the investment would be “very beneficial for the economy.”

On August 6, riot police that had once again been brought in fired rubber bullets and teargas at protesters who marched from the village of Ierissos towards the Skouries mine, where workers had begun chopping down trees. On September 9, events took a nasty turn when protesters—some local, some bused in from Thessaloniki—tried to reach the mine. Police fired teargas. Protestors threw flares and Molotov cocktails. A number of fires broke out. People were injured. Police arrested several protestors and confiscated more than 50 firebombs.

The issue has split the community in two. Both sides brandish reports in support of their points of view. There are those who fear that mining will degrade the environment, ruin tourism and their livelihood, and leave behind, after the gold is depleted, untold damage. They’re worried that sodium cyanide will be used to extract the gold from the ore, which could contaminate the drinking water and the air. They’re backed by the left-wing SYRIZA, the Alternative Ecologists, the Green Ecologists, and other leftist groups.

And there are those, including many local minors, who see the economic benefits of the mines and believe that the environmental concerns are overblown. They say that new technologies won’t require cyanide to extract the gold. And Eldorado continues to emphasize that it adheres to all environmental and other regulations.

The whole debacle has laid bare one of the fundamental problems of Greece: utter lack of trust in its institutions. Nick Malkoutzis lamented “the murky way that public sector contracts have been handed out and the impunity enjoyed by companies that have violated all kinds of regulations. While the wealth and influence of this minority has grown, people’s confidence has withered.” And now, “every scheme tendered by the government” is greeted “with suspicion.” He called it “a social affliction brought on by years of graft.”

So, when an acquaintance of mine in Greece had dinner with an official at the Bank of Greece, the discussion inevitably came around to the Troika—and how Greece should send them packing. “Of course,” the central banker said, “it would help considerably if we actually had a functioning government these past 182 years.” Read....  Merkel Hides Behind The Troika Report, The Greeks Seethe, And The Drachma Beckons.

And here is SILVER: In July, Japan decided that utilities would be paid three times more for electricity from solar sources than from conventional sources. That premium will ignite the installation of solar panels—which use a lot of silver! Read....  The Solar Silver Thrust.

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Zero Govt's picture

"...Molotov Cocktails, Rubber Bullets, Teargas..."

just the everyday calm respectful interaction of public with their public representatives

Democratic Govt, gotta love the same results over and over, country after country

steve from virginia's picture




It is more likely the 'problems' of extracting minerals in Greece right now have more to do with profitability than anything else. The 'trend' in 2012 is to blame everything on environmentalists, today's commie rat-finks.


There 'might have been' millions of ounces @ Bre-X's fabulous gold field in Busang, Indonesia ... then again, maybe not!


Funny, all these 'resource discoveries' arrive just when Greece goes down for the third time. Blub, blub blub ... anything to distract the rubes from the truth -slash- separate what few suckers remain from the last of their savings.


Let's say Greece actually has some gold in 'them thar hills': the EU/Wall Street creditors will get all of it while some of Greece's massive liabilities are reduced a smidgeon. Some slaves will get the chance to labor in Greek pits for a short period of time, until the gold runs out. Greece will become transformed into a toxic waste dump ... more than it is already. None of this requires imagination to determine, one only has to look at the business looters' record.


It is okay to mine and refine gold as long as someone other than businessmen do it.


Instead of digging for gold in Greece they should be digging graves for bankers and politicians, industrialists and mining company executives.

janus's picture


please excuse me while i use your space to grind an axe.  you see, a young man was murdered in alabama over the weekend.  i knew this young man.  and i consider the following my duty.

before i begin... thank you, pierce morgan.  until now, i could call you the greatest competetor, far and away, on 'the apprentice'.  i don't mean this as a back-handed insult, either.  my family loved the show.  sunday night was the only day our restaurant was closed; and it was customary to gather round and watch 'the don' "Fire" (trademark) those who displeased him or happened to intersect his unpredictable caprice.  mr. morgan was able to both draw 'the don's ire and win the show.  he did it by being far better than anyone else -- quantitatively and qualitatively so.  (yes, i'm that much of a nerd...i analyze 'reality' shows).  like i was saying, until now you were an intrepid and clever charecter that flitted about the transom of my interest in pop-culture; now i can say you are a gentleman.

to wit:

the video is embedded in the huffpost article.  opps, that's piers (won't happen again, mr. morgan).

now, let's review things as they stand... Gil Collar update:

i told you they wouldn't find any drugs in his system from the toxicology report; and so they've substituted 'witness testamony' for the science of gas-chromatography.  funny how the family learned the results from the media instead of the baldwin county police.  but you don't ask questions in alabama; lest you end up shot -- or worse.  i'm not joking!  there were no drugs found in his system, yet they float this fanciful 'witness testamony' of his drug consumption when all else fails.  in this case, science was the failure; not their theory.  they don't much like science in alabama -- dat's da devil's work. 

now, i'd like to know what drugs this security guard was/is on.  that's arousing far more curiosity than almost anything else.  and if he is on psychotropic drugs (indicating mental defect); why is he carrying around a gun?  i'd love to take a look at those medical records.  i can assure you, at some point they will become relavant.

and regarding that 'witness testamony', let me tell you what happened to ole janus right before he was arrested and then illegally transported to the montgomery county jail by campus security (for the high crime of telling a professor that she sucks, as such).  they knew they had already fucked up major-like; and so they put this form before me, and offered me a check for double my tuition back.  all i had to do was sign the form and withdraw from school, and i would have a nice fat check and everybody would be happy.  they didn't imagine that there was a man of charecter left on this earth.  men of charecter don't sign their names to lies; no matter the bribe.  after i refused to sign; i was immediatly cuffed.  this is the God's Honest Truth (well, i don't have to convince you if you live in alabama). anyway, i suppose i can't hold these young college students to such high-standards.  there's no telling what these menacing cops threatened or bribed these young people with.  there's no depths to which these swine won't sink.  alabama cops and the power network in that state are an abomination.  oh, the stories i could tell.  actually, i think i will soon start to tell them.

for now i'll focus on the case.

did you notice that they quite cavalierly stated that they will not be releasing the video to the general public...that only select (meaning maleable) 'media' will be allowed to view it...and this in spite of the family's wishes?  i don't think i have to say much on this one...this is raw, in-your-face facisim.  it's just an overt FUCK YOU...we's da po-lice; we do what the fuck we want (think of a bunch of over-grown eric cartmans with redneck accents; and there you have the quintesential alabama po-lice...sometimes stereotypes are painfully true). 

you'll also notice that they fabricated a few stories about Gil attacking and biting people earlier in the day.  really?  really?  when was the last time a crazed teen attacked someone at a public venue and no one called the police.  multiple times; or so were told.  and there are no 911 calls. no police reports.  again, only 'witness statements' -- as always, after the fact, by un named witnesses...cherry picked by the department itself.

so they fully intend to destroy this young man's reputation and demolish this family to save the pension of some fart-sniffing security gurard and the prestige of the most august southern alabama university. 

you know what, wolf...i had a dream the other night, and the title of your article reminded me of it.

i had a dream about this fourth-rate university somewhere down south.  some member of their 'security' department did something egregious...can't remember what it was or the exact name of the university.  anyway, in this dream, i saw hordes of students banging on the windows of this security building...i saw their eyes ablaze with the fire of righteous indignation.  i saw justice being subverted somewhere in the background; and, at the same time, i saw a fierceness in the aspect of these students.  i saw it; i studied it; it did transmit a singular and visceral message: Not This Time. 

these students, as if by the inate wisdom that lives in all of us, recognized the cleansing and spectacular nature of fire.  they did that day discover it.  fire has a way of rendering property unusable.  they didn't want to hurt anyone; but they had to let them know they were serious.

before you knew it, every single crusier in that university's department was streaking columns of purifying fire into the heavens.  for you see, the university just would not get it.  they thought, up until that point, that the students were there for them; for their profit; for their pension; to abet their idle and wasteful lifestyle.

i certainly hope that universities figure out that they are there for the students.  i hope they learn it soon.

what a wonderful dream.

he cocked his rifle and began to shout/

are you that travlin salesman i've heard so much about/

i said no no no; i'm a doctor and it's true/

i'm a clean cut kid, and i've been to college too,


AnAnonymous's picture

If in Alabama, white kids, even if he were an ethnical french, are shot by the Police, everything is lost.

Where are the good old times gone, when the Police would shoot negroes as it should be?

Signed: an American.

akak's picture


Where are the good old times gone, when flush toiletism would impinge on traditional Chinese roadside shitizenism as it should be?


covert's picture

greece and america are going the way of russia/


RSBriggs's picture

Sadly, universities have been taken over by the liberals, and they are nothing more than indoctrination centers that people take out enormous loans to attend.  Hows that for a brainwash job?

LawsofPhysics's picture

Don't be a complete idiot. I'd argue that it depends what side of campus you are on.  I collaborate with some engineers at a local University.  They are not very fond of many of their colleagues however.

janus's picture

they're just fucking doomed.  one of their prominent forebearers once declared, 'there is no justice; only Fate.'  and here they are, like rabid dogs leaping at the lash, barking for 'justice' and biting their own tail.  a good measure of patience is required if one wishes to manage a rabid dog with the taste for its own tail...most folks i know would just shoot it (that's what you call Fate) -- and the average german is far colder than most folks i know.  whatever happens with the common currency or the relative advantages of game-theory and exit strategy, one thing is now abundantly clear: greece is going to loose and loose big.  eurypidese (sp?) would luv to have a front-row seat for dis''s gonna be some kinda tragiocomic helter-skelter fest.   

good luck with that democracy, oh ye fathers of the same.  yes, let's let 'the people' decide -- there is simply no way to loose with a panic-stricken and hapless mob. 

correct me if i'm wrong, but didn't golden dawn's polling spike immediately after that fascist thug slapped that fish-eyed commie bitch?  janus is no friend of the commie (fish-eyed or no); but you don't evah slap a bitch...not for no reason (unless of course she's gone rabid and goes after her tail, as if to gnaw on it).  that's democracy for ya: slap a woman during a political debate, and you win...debate-schmate; this fascist knows the secret formula: add one part jingonistic diatribe, one part fearmongering viz. some ethnic group (oh, i don't know...pick one -- americans claim the muslim; so you greeks will have to find another one.  who? the jews...naw, they already did that one, too), add one part threat of wide-scale violence, and one part actual display of beastial, in-yo-face violence (preferably against something manifestly weaker than you are...good for demonstrating one's potential for savagery and hooliganism.  yes, in this case a woman will do just fine).  now, simmer till the lid is bout to explode; schedule a vote; spread lies and demonize whatever ethnic group you choose; hold election...voila!  you have yourself the tastiest demo-fascist jumbalaya. mmm. mmm. mmm.  satan himself couldn't do bettah (oh, and save him a portion; demo-fascist jumbalaya is his favorite -- twas his momma's recipie). 

democracy -- the devil trusts it; and so should you.

keep her good and drunk and goosey/

all the time-time-time.../

keep my skillet good and greasy/

all the time-time-time,


autonomos's picture

didn't the bitch slap him first?

Hobbleknee's picture

Until they pull it out of the ground, it's all talk.

AnAnonymous's picture

The continuation of 'american' economics, with Smithian economics at the core.

Transfering to an interior from an exterior. Greece thought they were part of the interior, that would live off eternally from draining an exterior.

Alas, alas, alas, fourth time alas, with the planet being finite, it appeared quite fast that Greece was not part of the club and was doomed to be pushed on the side of peripherical nations, destined to be drained so that the 'american' nations center can keep their standards of life.

Now one could speculate whether the IMF will be used as a proxy to transfer greek gold (if existing) from Greece to 'american' nations, as the IMF plays the part for South Africa.

'American' economics...

BigJim's picture

How's the peripheralization of Tibet coming along, Han citizen? Shot any protestors in the back of the head lately?

AnAnonymous's picture

An 'american' world is about specialization and by such, this kind of job must go to 'americans' who have proven their superiority in all kinds of manner when it comes to carry out those tasks.

Lets see what an 'american' has to tell about that:

"Kids should get out of the way and let the true professionals do the job as we, Americans, have shown the rest of the world what can be done in a matter of 200 years. As long as you let us, Americans', in charge."

Signed: an 'American'

AnAnonymous's picture

'Americanism' is all about submission. For 'americans' domination is all. They can not exist without being the dominant part.

A few articles back, one has to learn that the japanese house wife, who hold purse's strings in Japan, is notorious for making the wrong choice. Example: selling gold. Reinforced by a pompous sentencing of it: you do not grow richer by selling your gold.

Today's article hints at Greece mining for their domestic gold and selling it as a way to solve their situation.

Go figure it, 'american' style, it never takes long for 'americans' to say one thing and a contrary in order to declare domination. This thing has to be that way not because it is that way but because 'americans' dominate and decide what way it is.

Welcome to 'american' freedom.

Element's picture

I've come to the conclusion you're really just mentally handicapped.

AnAnonymous's picture

So be it. It would only mean that even mentally handicapped people can see through 'americanism' and report about it.

And that 'americans' are unable to prove any counter argumentation to points from people they consider as mentally handicapped.

Others than 'americans' would have get the situation and acknowledge that the song has grown too old to be sung.

But nope, 'americans' keep clinging to the song. And as their last resort, ad hominems and name calling.

Oh, by the way, it is also comes as a reinforcement that for 'americans', there is no way out but clinging to power.

Power is the only thing that can preserve 'americans' at the moment. See first comment.

TheFourthStooge-ing's picture

Mentally handicapped indeed, as well as excrementally ill.

akak's picture

In Chinese Shitizenism, the poop is all, and the roadside-squatting ass is the king class.

BigJim's picture

Han citizen is Han-dicapped!

Make me laugh! 

anonnn's picture

"They’re worried that sodium cyanide will be used to extract the gold from the ore..."

"They say that new technologies won’t require cyanide to extract the gold...."

It's pretty obvious that toxics [e.g. cyanide leaching] will be used. Otherwise, miners would guarantee no toxics, no CN leaching, etc. Also, they would be delighted to state their process specifics.

Any non-toxic process developed anywhere in the world and suitable for Greece' ores would have made big headlines in the mining trade.

Have been to Barrick's operations [similar to nearby Newmont's] north of Carlin, Nevada. You can see the results on Google Satellite pix.

The general area is wasteland and still, contamination is a threat + mile-around holes + mountains of tailings + leach drainage pits.  I only exaggerate a little.

 Greece is decidedly not a wasteland.

P.S. Met the geologist for another Canadian miner outside northwest corner of Yosemite. Showed me the most beautiful core-sample of "pure" solid wire-gold in hardrock., as they awaited permissions to go git it. Permissions were refused [ late-1990s?]due to operational contamination fears and threat to Yosemite and water supplies. The Canadian miner got a exorbitant payoff from US Gov due to a loophole in Fed mining law and departed joyfully.

Element's picture

Canadian And Australian mining companies are the best there are and if/when they screw up a project it makes big news at home--no one lets them off the hook, and the respective Govts and mining councils do get involved in making them pull up their socks.  But the Greek's concerns are also not baseless, serious accidents so occur, as in this case:

The Greeks probably figure tourism is a renewable resource, and mining that spoils the landscape isn't. But as long as it's underground mining, and it's surface expression is limited at the planning and regulation level, it's not going to be particularly visible.  But corruption would indeed be the problem there.  And when you have ancient monasteries perched on cliff tops etc., due to the area's imbued beauty and 'sacredness', I can understand why no one wants the area disturbed by new roads, trucks, underground blasting a couple of times a day, and mine workers, dust and heavy equipment. No matter what anyone says gold processing is an environmentally dirty business that needs strict controls and monitoring.  And a broke and desperate and notoriously corrupt country like Greece is very likely to turn a blind-eye to unedifying practices.

At the moment the gold mines production may look negligible next to the deficit, but that is no reason to not do this, especially when the story highlights the prospective terrain for becoming a 'major' producer.  Sounds like talk from mining execs trolling out a bit of bait.  Greece would be a small producer, nothing more.   It's laughable to suggest Greece could become a "major gold producer", as it would mean comparably matching Australian and Russian gold production (not to mention the more recent surge in China). Their production is huge and sustained because they're huge land areas.

But Greece needs every bit of foreign investment it can attract right now, they need to reverse outflows ASAP.  And they had better hope the gold price remains near records and higher because when it finally falls lower, these companies are not going to be much interested in exploration mapping, or investing long-term to open new mines there any more.  This is very much a limited-time and huge economic opportunity, to begin to turn things around.  And the engineering benefits and spin-offs that from a growing mining industry setting up new mines and support industries will power employment much more than that employment figure given suggests.

Plus if the country does turn out to have a lot of economically extractable and longer-term viable (which is a big if) gold reserves, this means banks will become much more willing to lend into that sector of the Greek economy again.  And to its workers. And to the shop keepers, etc.  And those workers will help their families and will buy new homes, etc.

Joe A's picture

As you say, Greece will not likely be a big producer of gold. Nevertheless, for the little amount that there is, the Greek government, mining companies, etc. are willing to completely destoy the nature and ecosystems there and once they are gone, so is tourism, water supply (Greece needs a lot of water for household use, tourism, agriculture and to fight forest fires). You say that mining could be done relatively harmless. That won't happen in Greece because there are greedy bastards there who are willing to sacrifice long term interest for short term profit. At Mount Olympus (sacret to many Greeks) there is already a quarry that looks like a lunar surface. On top of this, there are plans to dump tonnes of chemical waste. See (under Olympus)

Knowing Greece, Greek politians and Greek business people, they will turn the area in one desolate place and the gold will go somewhere else, to the robberbarons.

Peter Pan's picture

About 2500 years ago the Athenians made a chance discovery of a further silver vein near Athens and were able due to the insistence of one man (Themistocles) to use the money to build a fleet with which they trounced the Persian fleet. At that time, the bulk of the citizens simply wanted a stimulus handout to each and every citizen only. Luckily they failed otherwise Greece and probably Europe would be covered in minarets now.

The point is that Greece has a great many mineral deposits right across the board but if it isn't bureaucracy stuffing things up it will be the government wasting the revenue at the other end even if they develop their mineral deposits.

Right now you can still buy junk silver (i.e. silver coins from 1960-1964) for melt value.

Is there a Themistocles anywhere that can take control?

Tango in the Blight's picture

Europe IS covered in minarets now.

AnAnonymous's picture

Europe IS covered in minarets now.

That explains the real estate bubble. Good pick.

Ghordius's picture

sure. and my four wifes want new chadors. just look at the ratio between churchbells and minarets, or try to find one in most cities

Imminent Crucible's picture

"the ratio between churchbells and minarets"

Don't forget to look at the ratio between Greek Orthodox suicide bombers and Minaretski suicide bombers.

FeralSerf's picture

Behind many, if not most, of those "Minaretski suicide bombers" is a covert Mossad or CIA operative brain-washing, encouraging, financing and otherwise enabling the bomber to do what "he believes is patriotic and right" in order to keep the international shit stirred up so the bankers and the MIC can get richer and more powerful.

If you believe that suicide bombers exist in a vacuum, you're an idiot.  If you're just trying to convince us of that, you're a treasonous ADL tool.

Ghordius's picture

well, to be frank using dupes and/or doping them for political self-immolation goes back to the hashishins of the 11th Century in the Middle East

fascinating read if you have never heard about them

AnAnonymous's picture

Dont forget to look at the ratio between christian dropped nuclear bombs and minaretski dropped nuclear bombs...

'Americanism' or how to level up the playing ground...

akak's picture

Dont forget to look at the ratio between Chinese dropped roadside bombs and American dropped flush toilet bombs...

Chinese Shitizenism, or how to level up the nightsoil-poor roadsides ...

Peter Pan's picture

I am aware of what you are saying but so as not to put too fine a point on this, you will note I said, "today" rather than "then". I was simply trying to make the point that the whole complexion and history may have been otally different today if the outcome of the Persian invasion was different.

BigJim's picture

Hmmm. Would I rather live in Greece... or Iran?

Suggesting that if the ancient Persians had conquered ancient Greece,  it would now be Islamic, is appealing but shallow. Alexander the Great conquered Persia, India, Egypt around 150 years after Themistocles... are they now covered in churches?

Themistocles, ironically, was later ostracised by the Greeks and went to serve under Artaxerxes... the Persian king.

Ghordius's picture

I fear you have to spell it out: there was no Christendom and no Islam at the time of Themistocles - this war was between what we call pagans

AnAnonymous's picture

Pagans, which are all of them people to be eliminated according to abrahamic religions (judaism, christianism and muslimism)

akak's picture

Or, one might also just label them all as "foreign devils", as is traditionally done in China regarding all non-Chinese.

pocatello's picture

What?  What did you say?  I cannot hear you!


Oh well, it is a moot point anyway.

zorba THE GREEK's picture

The amount of gold expected to be mined in Greece over the next 4 years

would not pay for 2 months of their deficit spending. It's a mute point.

NotApplicable's picture

So, you're saying that it's falling on deaf ears?

jballz's picture


There is no deficit.

There is only bankers on welfare.

revolution baby!

3rdgrader's picture

The trick is to get one of the cops away from the herd and snap it's neck, then get another one and repeat. Eventually there'll be no more fucking stupid cops to defend the evil Bankers and the real fun can begin 

Vigilante's picture

No mate..

The trick is to wring every leftie's neck in Greece..

The last Soviet Republic...lost in the mists of socialism