George Burns

CEO OF ELDORADO GOLD

Greece 2020  I  Economy  I  Interview

BIOGRAPHY he joined Eldorado in February 2017 and assumed the role of President and Chief Executive Officer in April 2017. Previously he was the Executive VP and COO at Goldcorp, where he also held the positions of Senior VP for Mexican Operations and VP for Canada and the United States respectively. He was ALSO Senior VP & COO of Centerra Gold Inc.

“ELDORADO IS ONE OF THE LARGEST FOREIGN INVESTORS IN GREECE. TO DATE, WE HAVE INVESTED OVER US$3 BILLION AND EXPECT TO INVEST A FURTHER US$1 BILLION IN COMPLETING SKOURIES AND DEVELOPING THE PERAMA HILL PROJECT.”

WHAT ARE THE MAIN OBJECTIVES FOR ELDORADO GOLD IN 2020?

We’ve had positive movement in 2019 on some of the key permits that were outstanding for our Olympias and Skouries projects, both located in the Halkidiki Peninsula in northern Greece. Olympias is a gold-silver-lead-zinc mine that we refurbished and put back into production at the end of 2017. Skouries is a gold-copper porphyry deposit that will operate as an open pit and underground mine followed by underground only later in its life. Skouries is approximately 50% constructed but is currently under care and maintenance. Both assets have mine lives in excess of 20 years.

 

We are now working with the Greek Government to update our Skouries mine design to use dry-stack tailings, a best-available technology that is safer and reduces the mine’s environmental footprint by 40%. This needs to go through the proper review and approval by the relevant Ministries. We had excellent drill results at Stratoni/Mavres Petres, also located in Halkidiki, that increased our reserves and resources, supporting a longer mine life for that asset.

 

Another area of focus for us is Perama Hill, a high-grade gold-silver deposit located in Thrace, in north-eastern Greece. Perama has been on hold since 2014 and requires modest capital – approximately US$250 million to develop. We are working with the Greek Government to unlock the Environmental Impact Assessment permit and on establishing a path forward, including engagement with local communities.

 

CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF YOUR INVESTMENT PLAN?

It’s true that Eldorado is one of the largest foreign investors in Greece. To date, we have invested over US$3 billion and expect to invest a further US$1 billion in completing Skouries and developing the Perama Hill project, subject to receipt of necessary permits and establishing investor protections. We employ some 1,600 people in Greece, actively support local suppliers and businesses and make investments in local communities. We contribute to State revenues through royalty and tax payments and exports. Our investment in Greece is about building safe, modern, world-class operations that will deliver significant value for all stakeholders.

"WE ARE PROUD TO BE A PART OF THE COMMUNITIES

WHERE WE OPERATE, AND BELIEVE THAT BEING

OPEN, TRANSPARENT AND ACCOUNTABLE HELPS

TO CREATE TRUST WITH OUR PARTNERS."

 

Greece has an estimated €72 billion of untapped mineral wealth. If developed responsibly and with care for the environment, as we are doing, mining could be a key industry for the country, helping to produce the raw materials that will underpin our global shift to a lower-carbon future. Copper, in particular, will be a sought-after raw material as we electrify vehicles, energy systems, and other modes of transportation. We estimate Skouries will produce over 30,000 tonnes of copper annually.

 

WHAT ARE THE MAIN INITIATIVES BEING DEVELOPED IN GREECE ON SUSTAINABILITY AND LOCAL COMMUNITIES?

 

We are proud to be a part of the communities where we operate, and believe that being open, transparent and accountable helps to create trust with our partners. In 2018, we invested over US$1.6 million in communities in Halkidiki focusing our efforts on education, economic development and the environment. One of our most successful programs provides children near our Kassandra projects with the opportunity to learn about science, technology and robotics through interactive classes and hands-on learning.

 

We have also been working to restore areas affected by historic mining operations, and implementing best available technologies to mitigate our environmental impacts. We have in place one of the most comprehensive monitoring systems that assesses environmental data from over 400 different points in and around our operations to ensure we are operating to compliance. Our work to protect the environment is essential to maintaining strong relationships with local communities, and is part of who we are as a responsible mining company.

 

WHAT WOULD BE YOUR MESSAGE TO INVESTORS INTERESTED IN GREECE?

Be transparent and build partnerships with key stakeholders. Establish clear and binding investment protections and benefits for both parties to ensure continuity with various governments over the life of the investment. Building mines takes enormous capital, time, effort and a whole lot of heart. You absolutely can’t get there alone and I’m sure it’s the same in other industries. Work together with regulators, politicians, industry associations and local communities to gain understanding and support to realize value from the investment. If it’s done well, all will benefit.