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02 March, 2002
The Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, on Friday ruled against a ministry decision that endorsed the environmental terms of construction and operation of a gold mine in the north belonging to a subsidiary of TVX Gold, a quoted Canadian miner.
The case was brought by the municipality of Stayira Akanthos, Halkidiki, after years of protests by residents and environmentalists claiming that the operation would damage woodland and water deposits.
The protests included blockades of access roads to TVX Hellas' operation in Olympiada.
The court rejected arguments by TVX's management that anticipated benefits would outweigh damage to the environment as a breach of the principle of sustainable development.
Conversely, it appeared that the damage would outweigh the benefits of introduction of advanced technology for the mining and processing operation; and the benefits of a rise in employment in the area, the court added.
As a result, the decision by the secretary general of the public works, town planning and environment ministry was illegal and should be invalidated, it said.
In another twist in the case, the development ministry on February 15 approved a technical study by TVX Gold for its subsidiary to expand mining operations.
Under the terms of the ministry's approval, TVX must comply with environmental regulations and carry out a separate detailed study on repercussions of the mining operation.
In addition, an advisory committee of engineers, trade unionists, staff, residents and management is expected to be created to monitor the company's adherence to terms of operation set by the government.
Seven suits have been tabled with the Council of State by local residents and authorities demanding a reversal of approval granted to the environmental study, blueprints for the plant, a presidential decree allowing the installation of plant, and the opening of access roads.
The suits claimed that the project would damage the environment and archaeological sites in the area.
Source: Athens News Agency