Many see the foreign investment as vital to helping Greece emerge from its economic morass, where a quarter of the workforce unemployed and the economy heading into a sixth year of recession.
"Without the company, the game is over (for the local economy)," Deliyovas said. "Those who try to shut this project, they will find us on the other side."
Opponents also argue that unlike many other countries, the Greek state gets no royalties from mine concessions other than taxes and jobs. Concessions granted in 2004 for Stratoni, one of the Halkidiki mines that is currently operating and is near Skouries, are valid until 2026 and can be renewed twice for 25 years each time, free of charge.
Opponents say the new mine, which will consist of an open pit, tunnels beneath, and processing plant, will destroy the forest and contaminate groundwater. The company rejects these claims, saying it will refill and replant the open pit once the ore has been extracted, and that all necessary care is being taken not to pollute the environment."We (the employees) live here; we are the first ones who want to protect the environment," Deliyovas said. Eldorado Gold did not immediately respond to requests for comment or details about the raid. ______________ Demetris Nellas contributed to this report from Athens, Greece.