Cassandra mines operate since 6th BC century and 33 million tons of gold were extracted.
In 2011, following a long story of ambiguous government decisions and scandalous agreements, European Goldfields Ltd sold its share (95%) of Hellas Gold S.A., that owned Cassandra Mines, to the Canadian Eldorado Gold Corporation.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for mining activities in Cassandra was submitted in 2010 to the Ministry of Environment, following an ostensible public consultation process. The Minister, Ms Mpirmpili denied endorsing it. The EIA was approved by Mr Papakonstantinou (former Minister of Finance) who came after Ms Mpirmpili, 11 months later.
The EIA has many deficiencies in the documentation, incomplete scientific data, misinterpretation of statutory limits of pollutants, etc. A part of the mining area belongs to a NATURA 2000 site.  In 2009 and 2011 two actions were filed before the Council of State against the mining company by the residents, while the company itself filed one action against the Municipality of Aristotle, because of a decision of the Urban Planning Directory that demanded the stopping of the activities in Skouries site. The actions were discussed in 2012, and the Council gave permission to the company for the continuation of the activities. [2, 3] The open-pit gold copper ore mine will result to the destruction of a primitive forest, the drainage of the aquifers and to the pollution of atmosphere and land. The method of “flash smelting” that will be used has never been used in industrial scale production in the past and there are fears that the company will finally implement the method of cyanation.
Several civil society objections were raised since 2007. Since early 2011, residents of the Municipality of Aristotle initiated a major campaign against the investment. The campaign consists of petitions, awareness raising, use of social media, demonstrations in the mining area, the villages and big cities, concerts, etc. Universities and institutes commented on the EIA and revealed the gaps and the negative impacts of the planned activities. A mass movement is now active in the area, being supported by several groups and institutions from Greece and abroad.
From the beginning, the Greek government neglected the opinion of the residents and supported the company. There was no consultation process on the EIA and the social movement in Skouries faces major repression .
In February 2013, unknown men attacked the worksite in Skouries, causing damages to company’s vehicles and equipment. This gave the pretext to the police to hit peaceful demonstrations with excessive use of teargases; criminalize the participation in the movement, arrest several residents on charges of participation in terrorist organization, proceed to DNA tests, invade in houses etc.
The company make donations to Municipalities located in the area in the framework of the corporate social responsibility. In the past it attempted to donate football teams in Thessaloniki, but there were major reactions by the team’s funs. Furthermore, it donated to the Greek Police, fact that provoked the reaction of Parliament Members who submitted parliamentary question to the competent ministry. [4, 5,6] The majority of mainstream media in Greece support the government and the private investors, presenting the mass movement as a minority that is against any kind of development, obscuring the scientific institutions’ reviews and giving the floor only to the company and her employees. International press covers the issue more objectively.