So far work has progressed as far as forest clearance. Eldorado says the pit will only be in operation for about seven years, after which it will be filled over and replanted.Opponents are not impressed. The anti-gold movement has appealed to the Council of State, the country's highest administrative court, to have the project stopped, armed with environmental studies from Thessaloniki University and petitions from pressure groups such as hoteliers' associations and statements by the Technical Chamber of Greece, a scientific advisory body to the state. "Most of the area is ... forest which is at least 300 years old, without ever having been violated," said Tolis Papageorgiou, a member of the local opposition group. ____ Elena Becatoros and Derek Gatopoulos in Athens contributed.