Frequently Asked Questions
The tailings from the rock processing will be dehumidified and fully neutralized with the INCOTM method. However, as a precaution, the location and the construction way of the repository will eliminate any possibility of pollution of the soil, the agricultrucal land, the groundwater, or the sea (which is at a 4.5 kilometers distance from the site), as well as of the nearest populated area. The surface of the repository will be covered with a geomembrane made of high density polyethylene, which will be placed on a practically impermeable substrate (geosynthetic clay liner of very low permeability, 1x10-10 meters per second). It is worth mentioning that at the Sanitary Landfill Sites a geomembrane of a permeability of 1x10-9 meters per second is placed. The above design has taken place according to the ICOLD standards (http://www.icold-cigb.net/), which consist the highest standards for the design of repositories in the world) and on the basis of the Maximum Credible Earthquake-MCE in order to eliminate any possibility of failure.
2. Will there be an extraction of water from the area which will cause the reduction or depletion of water reserves?
There is no way that the water reserves of the area will be reduced or depleted. It has been proven by chemical analyses that the water that will be used in the processing plant is unsuitable for drinking or irrigation. After a detailed examination (extraction test for 35 days on a 24 hour basis and hydrogeological studies), it has been proven that the use of this water does not affect the underground aquifers of the area. The water from the filter press, the water that will be collected from the surface runoffs of the repository and the leachates of the dehumidified material, as well as the surface runoffs from the project site, will be collected in the collection pond where water will be recycled and reused in the beneficiation plant, which will lead to a significant saving of extracted water. During the exploratory drillings in the Perama area, water reserves suitable for irrigation have been found. The company, always faithful to its commitment not to use water which is suitable for drinking or irrigation, has granted the use of the above well to the residents of Perama.
Only ONE well of UNSUITABLE water for drinking or irrigation will be used, therefore the project will in no way affect the aquifer of the area. 93% of the water requirements of the project will be covered by the recycling of water from the filter presses and the collection of surface water. The losses of the closed water recycling system (7%) will be found as natural moisture in the solid residue that will be deposited in the tailings impoundment site (refer to question 12). Any extraction of the unsuitable for drinking or irrigation water by the water well will be supplementary.
4. The hydrogen cyanide which is emitted, is integrated in atmospheric moisture and rain and falls back to the earth, penetrating thus in the food cycle.
First of all, there are no “huge hydrogen cyanide quantities”. At all stages of production the pH is maintained between 8.5 and 10.5, so that hydrogen cyanide cannot be generated. The very low hydrogen cyanide quantity that is possibly emitted is not concentrated because hydrogen cyanide is volatile, lighter than air and is immediately degraded high in the atmosphere. It is worth remarking that hydrogen cyanides detection and measurement equipment will be permanently installed in every place in the plant where hydrogen cyanide could be potentially generated and will immediately provide information regarding its concentration.
In the entire project area there will be continuous water spraying so that dust is minimized. There will be special measuring equipment for the atmospheric quality around the project and in it, that will record dust levels on a 24-hour basis.
Acid drainage occurs in deposits that contain sulfides (sulfur compounds). The ore which will be treated in Perama contains ONLY SULFUR OXIDES and therefore there is NO POSSIBILITY OF ACID DRAINAGE.
7. The deposit contains uranium, arsenic, cadmium and other radioactive and toxic metals. Its content in gold is 18g/tn.
Chemical analyses that have been carried out by independent foreign laboratories in hundreds of samples from the Perama deposit, have shown that this mainly consists of silicas (sand), silver at a content of 3.7g/tn, gold at a content of 3.2g/tn and iron at a content of 2.0g/tn. There is NO trace of heavy, toxic or radioactive metals and elements.
8. A tailings pond will be used with a high cyanide content and in case of earthquake or flood, the toxic water will pollute the underground water and the sea.
At the Gold Project of Perama there will be NO construction of a tailings pond, but a solid tailings impoundment site with almost zero cyanide content. That is, solid tailings with 15% humidity will be produced, and they cannot be carried away. The impoundment site of this residue has been designed based on the stream flows and on rainfall in the worst possible scenarios that can occur once every 10,000 years. In case of earthquake, the structure can resist up to 8 richter earthquakes, while in case of flood, the structure includes perimeter drainage channels that lead to water recycling. The repository will be paved with a geomembrane and a clay liner of approximately zero permeability. The permeability of the geomembrane will be ten times lower than of the geomembrane that is placed in Sanitary Landfill Sites. The sea is at a 4.5 kilometers distance from the project and the possibility of sea pollution is zero.
Many compounds that we use on a daily basis are poisons. What makes a poison dangerous for health is dosage. For example, chlorine is a very powerful poison, but is used - at an appropriate quantity - for the disinfection of drinking water. Cyanide is rapidly degraded through natural processes (sun, air), does not remain stable in the environment, does not accumulate in the human body, is not carcinogenic or mutagenic. On the contrary, cyanide is contained in many anticancer preparations! The quantity of cyanide in a solid residue after neutralization processing with the INCOTM method is 1 ppm, with the limit both of the Greek and the European legislation being at 10 ppm (where ppm= particles per million of the active substance). That is, the content of the cyanide remaining in the process residues in the Perama project will be 10 TIMES lower than the limit which is set by the strict European legislation. This minor cyanide quantity that will remain, will be degraded (destructed) very rapidly, principally due to the high level of sunshine in our country. It is remarked that the quantity of cyanide which is emitted by ordinary daily activities in an urban environment, is one hundred times the quantity that will be emitted by the Perama project. Such daily activities are transport (cars, trucks, ships, etc.), the operation of industrial plants, urban heating systems, wood-burning (fireplaces), power plants (e.g. lignite mines), pesticides, fertilizers, etc. Furthermore, in order to better understand this, 1 kilogram of drained soil will contain the same quantity of cyanide with : 3.4 g of almonds 50 g of salt 6 g of soy 60 ml of cherry juice
10. Is it worth, in order to create a few jobs, to put at risk the health of the residents of the area?
Thracean Gold Mining S.A. IS COMMITTED to operate according to the STRICTEST international and European SAFETY MEASURES regarding health and the environment. If there is even the slightest doubt that the company’s activities will put at risk the health of its employees, of the residents of the area and of more generally of Thrace, then the project will not be developed. On the contrary, the company is committed to make the Perama project an investment for which Thrace will be proud.
The operation of the mine will create at least 200 new jobs and 800 indirect jobs, 90% of which will be covered by the residents of the wider area.
The duration of the project will be 10 years according to the initial schedule, however the research and study for more deposits will continue, so that the development of projects in the area continues for many years. Initially, the project’s development plan includes one year and a half of construction works, 8 years of operation of the mine and 1 year of full environmental rehabilitation of the intervention area, with 5 additional years of environmental monitoring after the end of works.
After the end of the project, the company will apply the rehabilitation program. More particularly, the area will be covered with an appropriate soil material of organic origin, will be planted and used according to the mutual environmental plan, which will be agreed with the local authorities, the local community and the company.
The company is committed to guarantee land value in the area. A rehabilitation program for the area has been planned and studied, according to layouts that are already applied by its shareholders in other projects very successfully.
15. Will there be a contract that will indemnify the residents in case there are any kind of damages?
The long experience of the company guarantees that there will be no failures. However, the possibility of indemnification for any kind of damage has already been agreed, by signing the appropriate agreement that will guarantee to the residents an indemnity that is higher than the value of the theoretical damage.
The Black Pine Forest WILL NOT be ruined, on the contrary it will be safeguarded. Moreover, only a small part of the forest is located within the project’s area. The company has prepared a special study regarding the replacement of trees, which describes the Black Pine regeneration conditions. The trees will be planted and the area will be reforested in accordance with the directions of the competent Forestry Department. They have determined certain actions for the preservation of the forest, such as the creation of a fire-fighting team, which will be equipped with the appropriate means, will inspect the area and will cooperate with the Fire Department and the Forestry Service in case of fire. A Black Pine nursery is already operating in cooperation with the Department of Silviculture of the Democritus University of Thrace and local Foresters, for the growing of seedlings for rehabilitation. Until today more than 6,000 Black Pine seedlings have been successfully planted.
All of the safety measures that are considered adequate according to the relevant studies that have been prepared will be strictly implemented so that not only the safety of the residents, but also the protection of the flora and fauna in the area are guaranteed. These are analyzed in detail in the Environmental Impact Assessment and along with the Environmental Conditions that will be issued by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, will consist the “contract” of the company’s obligations and the operating regulations of the project with the local community.
In the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) have been included specific action plans, such as the Environmental Management System, a comprehensive control system, and the regular environmental reports that are required by Law. The company is committed to provide full information to the local community regarding its environmental performance. Furthermore, it intends to finance an inspection committee, which will consist of scientists and residents of the area and will check if the safety measures are respected according to the regulations and the legislation. In parallel, this committee will communicate the possible concerns and requirements of the area’s residents.
19. Will there be any danger for the residents and children due to the passing of vehicles through the villages?
NO. There will be no danger for the residents, because the vehicles will not pass through the villages, but will use the road that will be constructed near the old Komotini-Alexandroupoli road. Furthermore, all the relevant measures of safe vehicle circulation (speed limits, road signs, etc.) will be taken.
20. Will an ugly landscape be created, which will be visible from all of the surrounding area, due to the project?
NO. There will be no creation of an ugly landscape which will be visible from all of the surrounding area, because the project is located in a natural basin and it is not visible from the central or the seaside road, causing thus a visual disturbance. Furthermore, the excavations will be performed gradually. Moreover, the intervention area will be fully rehabilitated (a 22 million euros letter of guarantee will be deposited at the beginning of the project for the rehabilitation) according to planning, which will be jointly decided with the local community, so that there is an upgrade of the environment and a future use of the area with economic benefits after the end of the mining activity too.
NO. There will be no danger to the villages because they are located at a great distance from the area where explosives will be used. Nevertheless, the company has performed the necessary studies and has provided for the strictest safety measures, which include the use of established techniques for the minimization of vibrations, noise and dust. Moreover, explosives will be used in a small part of the rock that will be extracted, rather for its loosening that for its breakup.
ΝΟ. There will not be any drainage at Paliorema, and therefore neither to the sea, which lies at a distance of 4.5 kilometers. Solid residues cannot move to a distance greater than 500 meters even in the worst case scenario. It must be remarked that the project’s facilities have been designed to withstand extreme scenarios such as an 8 Richter earthquake and large scale floods that occur once every 10,000 years. The project’s Risk Assessment enlightens us about the extent of the project’s safety and the probability of failure and damage in the area. More particularly, the probability of failure of the slopes of the solid mineral waste management is 1 in 1,000,000 years. The probability of movement of the solid residues for 100 to 500 meters at maximum, in the aforementioned extreme conditions (earthquake and flood) are 3 x 10-6, that is 0.000003%.(Comparatively, the probability of a road accident for each one of us is 7.5 x 10-4, that is 0.00075%).
NO. The noise from the mine will not disturb the nearby villages, as it has been mentioned in the relevant study about noise. The maximum noise levels that are provided for in the legislation will be respected, as well as the respective specific hours where explosives will be used at the open-pit mine.
NO. There will be no drainage at Paliorema and therefore neither to the sea, which lies at a distance of 4.5 kilometers. Solid residues cannot move to a distance greater than 500 meters even in extreme conditions, such as in the case of an 8 Richter earthquake, or large scale floods that occur once every 10,000 years. As it has been already mentioned, the project’s Risk Assessment enlightens us about the extent of the project’s safety and the probability of failure and damage in the area. More particularly, the probability of failure of the slopes of the solid mineral waste management is 1 in 1,000,000 years. The probability of movement of the solid residues for 100 to 500 meters at maximum, in the aforementioned extreme conditions (earthquake and flood) are 3 x 10-6, that is 0.000003%.(Comparatively, the probability of a road accident for each one of us is 7.5 x 10-4, that is 0.00075%).
NO. Because one of the key priorities of the project is continuous water spraying. There will be continuous dust control at the plant’s crushers and the extraction plant will operate with liquid materials (slurry) and therefore there will be no dust.
History has shown that there is the possibility of an ecological accident if the required safety measures are not seriously taken into account. The most important accidents that have occurred, are due to the lack of these safety measures. In February 2000, water overflow after heavy rainfall and snowfall at the dam of Aurul mine in Baia Mare, Romania, resulted to a pollution of the rivers Tisza, Lapos and Szamos and finally of Danube, where they flow into. A similar event occurred in Hungary in 2010, at an aluminum plant. The decisive factor in the accident in Romania, such as in the one in Hungary, was the poor construction of the tailings containment facilities, the failure to implement the European standards, the high content of water in the tailings and principally, the non-neutralization of the material before its impoundment in the tailings pond. At Perama, there is no risk of a similar accident due to the design criteria (in full compliance with the European and Greek legislation) of the repository and principally due to the fact that the deposited material is fully neutralized (destruction of cyanides with the INCOTM method) and practically solid (85% by weight are solid materials).
The repository has been designed in accordance with the strictest design criteria and its permeability is considered practically zero. The construction of drains has been provided for, so that in the almost impossible case of water leak, the water is collected in sewers and then recycled at the processing plant. It must be remarked that this water is anyway free of a content of cyanide that would be harmful, as it has passed from the stage of detoxification of cyanides (INCOTM) and is therefore harmless both for humans and for the environment.
The design of the facility has been based on the principle of zero discharge to the environment. The surface runoffs of the wider basin will be diverted out of the facility, without coming into contact with the solid residues of the mine. Rainwater, as well as leachates within the facility, will be collected and channeled to the water collection pond downstream of the repository. Then, the water will be recycled at the processing plant and its surplus will be vaporized with the aid of special water sprinklers/nebulizers at the surface of the deposition facility.
Gold mines with mining plants exist in many countries of the European Union and Europe, such as Spain, Bulgaria, Sweden, Finland and Turkey. The mining enterprises in these countries use cyanide for the extraction of gold. The total production of gold in the EU is over 3 thousand tons annually.
The transport of sodium cyanide will be performed in accordance with the strictest safety measures which apply in the European Union (these include a special packaging way, special wagons or trucks, certified transport companies, training and certification of the driver, continuous checks, etc.). It will be transported in solid form (briquettes) in special airtight polypropylene bags, on special pallets in wooden crates and in containers sealed with steel. The road transport will be minimal, as railway transport will be mainly used and there will be no transport through residential areas or villages.
The company is fully committed to safeguard health, clean environment and safety during the handling of cyanide, for its staff in the workplace and for the residents of nearby areas. In order to achieve this, the company will fully respect and even exceed the strictest European and International standards. It will benefit from the long experience of the parent company and its techniques, in order to ensure and guarantee full safety during the transport, storage, handling and final destruction of cyanide.
Cyanide is produced and used in the European Union in a large number of industrial applications. CyPlus (a subsidiary of Degussa) which is based in Germany, is one of the largest chemical companies and produces sodium cyanide with industrial plants all over Western Europe. In other countries there are DuPont and Cyanco (USA), as well as Australian Gold Reagents and Orica (AUSTRALIA).
Cyanide is used in a wide range of industrial applications: • The construction of microchips, films and jewellery • The production of medicines, stickers, plastics and hygiene articles • In electronics, for the construction of tools and bathroom articles • In medicine, for the construction of medical instruments • In works, for the construction of blunt instruments
The company will process all the solutions before their deposition so that every trace of cyanide is removed. For this purpose the ΙΝCOTM technology will be used, which consists the most modern method for the neutralization and destruction of cyanide. This established method is used at industrial scale in the last 20 years, at the most advanced facilities worldwide and particularly in countries with high environmental sensitivity and strict environmental legislation. With the IΝCOTM method 99.975% of the cyanide is destroyed, which means that less than one millionth of a gram of unbound cyanide per ton remains, when the respective limit for the safety of the flora and fauna is 50 milligrams. This means that it is 500 times less than the respective safety limit for the flora and fauna.
The cyanide technology is used for over 100 years. All these years it has been proven that cyanide can be transported, stored, used and deposited with safety, with the proper handling and respect to the relevant safety measures. Examples of projects where cyanide is safely used, exist in the European Union (Spain, Sweden, Finland, Bulgaria, etc.), in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and many other developed countries. 95% of the gold mines worldwide use sodium cyanide to extract gold. Only 18% of the cyanide world production is used in mining activities. The rest 82% is used in other industrial uses (preparation of cosmetics, chemicals, paints, etc.). Its safe use under the specific strict standards is what makes it ideal for the extraction of gold.
The processing with the use of cyanide is the optimal method for gold extraction thanks to its effectiveness, the proven high level of technology it uses and its application possibility with high safety levels for humans and the environment. None of the alternative chemical compounds that substitute cyanide is used today on a worldwide basis, due to the environmental and technical problems they create. The difficulty to find a chemical compound that will replace cyanide in the short or medium term, has been recognized by the principal environmental organizations, such as UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) for example.
Gold in the Perama rocks is fine-grained and cannot be extracted by physical means. The use of a chemical compound named cyanide (CN-) is required, and its processing takes place in tanks that are located at the beneficiation plant in a closed circuit. Finally, all chemical solutions are either recycled at the plant or neutralized, or destructed, before their deposition at the dehumidified material repository (solid with low humidity).
Before the beginning of the project approximately 350 signatures are required, by experts on scientific, technical and environmental issues. The Company already has in its hands the approval for the land use, signed by all the competent governmental, regional and local authorities (Ministry of Spatial Planning, Environment and Public Works – Directorate for the Environment, Ministry of Health – Department of Environmental Health, Ministry of Agriculture – Departmental Committees of Evros and Rodopi for Spatial Planning and the Environment, Ministry of Culture – 12th Office of Byzantine Monuments of Kavala, Ministry of Culture – 12th Office of Classical and Prehistoric Monuments of Komotini, etc.). In February 2012, the Preliminary Environmental Impact Assessment of the Perama Project has been approved by the Ministry of Environment and Energy, and finally, at the end of March 2012 the complete Environmental Impact Assessment has been submitted to the Ministry of Environment and Energy for examination and approval, while in parallel, the consultation with the local community has concluded in October 2012. On March 6, 2012 the Perama project was included in the Process for the Acceleration and Transparency of the implementation of Strategic Investments (FAST TRACK) of the Ministry of Development. The Law aims at the development of investment plans of high standards and increased public benefit, which create long-term wide-range positive results which are quite significant for the National Economy. ONLY the signature of the Minister of Environment remains now, which will allow the beginning of the works very soon.
The Parent Company of “Thracean Gold Mining S.A.” is the Canadian ELDORADO GOLD CORPORATION. It is quoted on the Stock Exchange markets of Toronto (TSX) and New York (NYSE). It is the largest of the medium-sized gold companies worldwide, is rapidly developing and is active with projects all over the world. The company has constructed and operates mines all around the world, which have won many awards for their environmental compatibility and their high environmental standards. The implementation and management of these projects takes place in an exemplary manner, always within the framework of social dialogue with the participation of local authorities in the projects’ operation and compliance supervisory mechanisms, and with obvious and direct contributory benefits for the local communities. The company is completely open to dialogue with the local Administration, the central Government and the local Community, and with a high sense of Corporate Social Responsibility it is looking forward to the design and implementation of the Perama project.