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Pictures of Eldorado Gold's Greek mines and the protesters who resist them

The Vancouver company plans a major investment in the economically distressed country. But despite the needed jobs that will be created, a protest movement concerned about the environment and tourism is putting up stiff resistance.

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The first mobilizations against the expansion of the old mines in the Halkidiki peninsula, the birthplace of Aristotle in northeastern Greece, began in late 2011. That’s when Vancouver’s Eldorado Gold Corp. grabbed most of the local mining industry and unveiled plans for a €1-billion ($1.32-billion) development that would turn the recession-stricken region into a gold-producing powerhouse.

Nikolas Giakoumidis/The Globe and Mail

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But development skeptics asked: At what cost to the environment, tourism and agriculture? They concluded that the massive project, smack in the middle of a part of Greece that could pass for Tuscany, would do more harm than good and took to the streets. (An anti-mine banner says: “water, mountain, health, future, non-negotiable.”)

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Local Orthodox church, Christodoulos Aggelouglou, 52, has joined the protesters against the mine.

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An anti-Eldorado banner near the company’s mine in Stratoni, Greece.

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An anti-Eldorado banner in the village of Ierissos.

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Another anti-Eldorado banner in village of Ierissos.

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Eldorado Gold Corp. acquired Skouries and related properties in Greece through the 2011 takeover of European Goldfields for about $2.5-billion (U.S.) in shares in late 2011, while gold prices were flying high.

Nikolas Giakoumidis/The Globe and Mail

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Workers construct the eight-kilometre tunnel that will link Eldorado Gold’s Stratoni and Olympias developments.

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The eight-kilometre tunnel will transport ore via a conveyor belt.

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The Eldorado mill in the Stratoni development, where zinc, lead and silver are produced and shipped.

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The company has doubled its production and reserves in the past five years though an ambitious acquisition and development program and now boasts proven and probable reserves of 25.7 million ounces of gold and 72.3 million ounces of silver.

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Eldorado has a target of more than doubling production to 1.5 million ounces a year by 2015. But shares have recently been caught in the downdraft of falling gold markets, and its key Greece gold development project is the target of intense protest.

Nikolas Giakoumidis/The Globe and Mail

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The Eldorado mill in the Stratoni development.

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