Gold Investment Projects and Dominantly Imposed Development Models in Local Communities. a Case of a Neoliberal Policy Applied in Mining Exploitation in Greece.

Thursday, 2 July 2015: 10:15 AM-11:45 AM
CLM.B.06 (Clement House)
Konstantinos Petrakos, NATIONAL TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS, Athens, Greece
This paper looks at the socio-economic and ecological impacts of the extractive industry. Large scale open-pit gold mining projects are increasing throughout European Territory, whilst the impacts of the economic crisis deepen in European societies. 

The paper focuses on the characteristic example of the implementation of these trends in Greece, which is the case of North East Chalkidiki. In that area a Canadian based multinational corporation aims at locating a large development mining project of gold and copper. This research happens while the company's activities are progressively consolidated and preparing for the first phase of mining.

By examining how a multinational corporation invests in that territory, we can gain insights into social and territorial changes provoked by extractive development procedures. The transformations of space in this territorial unity are investigated through the fact that the public land that has been granted by the Greek state for mineral exploitation and is now owned by the mining company, includes almost 43% of the whole land of the affected municipality. In addition, the relation between the austerity measures, the special status of Memorandum and the development of this large scale mining project, is thoroughly examined. An additional research question, based on the Chalkidikis’ case, investigates how the financial crisis offers an opportunity for multinational mining corporations to widespread their zones of exploitation in Europe, in conjunction with the high gold prices in the stock market.

The fieldwork research that follows aims at presenting the social impacts into local communities, the dispersion of dissensions within the local society, a fact that summarizes the exercise of state policy in the area.

The former conservative government has been extremely willing to connect the project development with “Job creation”.  On the other hand the new government of Greece has committed itself to cancelling the mining investment; commitment which creates expectations to the local movement who refuse the exploitation and tries to redefine the concept of development. This happens because the dominant concept includes forms of exploitation in economic relations among people, as well as violent spatial transformations in the geography of the area.

In addition to that, this research traces the evolution of mining multinational corporations in the European Territory and the interactions that develop between them and the local governments over time. This effort contains a mapping of open pit gold mines located in Europe. Furthermore, a deeper research is needed in order to provide a useful tool in academic literature and socio-economic research. Therefore, the classification of gold mines in three main categories is as follows:

1. Operating gold mines currently in production

2. Exploration and Development open pit Projects.

3. Cancelled gold mines.

Last but not least, the above map demonstrates the presence of social conflicts in each project. The concept is trying to find out whether the local resistance will be able to transform the imposed development projects, seeking for a different future, which is opposed to the environmental degradation and socio-economic controversy.