Tuesday 25th June 2019

Resource Clips


Posts tagged ‘greece’

‘The Asian century’

April 4th, 2019

East has surpassed West, whether the West knows it or not, says Peter Frankopan

by Greg Klein

East has surpassed West, whether we know it or not, says Peter Frankopan

“Silk roads” can refer to the process of connecting people and cultures
through trade, according to Peter Frankopan’s recently published book.

 

Less than two years ago tensions along an especially sensitive border area sparked fighting between Chinese and Indian troops. Outside Asia, who knew? “As most of the world focused on the Twitter account of the US president and the circus surrounding Brexit, the threat of the two most populous countries on earth going to war was not just a possibility, it looked like becoming a fact,” writes Peter Frankopan. An uneasy truce eventually stalled hostilities but the West’s ignorance of the wider world remains. That’s both symptom and cause of the West’s decline, the author says.

The decisions being made in today’s world that really matter are not being made in Paris, London, Berlin or Rome—as they were a hundred years ago—but in Beijing and Moscow, in Tehran and Riyadh, in Delhi and Islamabad, in Kabul and in Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, in Ankara, Damascus and Jerusalem. The world’s past has been shaped by what happens along the Silk Roads; so too will its future.—Peter Frankopan

Relatively few Westerners realize the extent of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Actually a complex suite of alliances concerning resources, infrastructure, trade, security and even culture, the BRI forms just part of an Asian awakening that’s shifting the planet’s centre of importance while strengthening Eastern influence beyond Asia and Africa to make inroads into Europe, the Americas, the Arctic, cyberspace and outer space.

That’s the message of historian Frankopan’s latest book, The New Silk Roads: The Present and Future of the World. While present and future aren’t normally the precinct of historians, it was historical perspective that brought Frankopan to the topic. In context, Western global supremacy has been a recent, short-lived development.

Since announcing the BRI in 2013, China has promised nearly $1 trillion, mostly in loans, for about 1,000 projects, Frankopan reports. That money could “multiply several times over, to create an interlinked world of train lines, highways, deep-water ports and airports that will enable trade links to grow ever stronger and faster.”

That would enhance China’s access to, and control over, resources ranging from oil and gas to mines and farmland; provide markets for Chinese exports including surplus steel, cement and metals, as well as manufactured goods; create projects for Chinese contractors; secure foreign ports and other strategic commercial and military locations; and build closer foreign alliances for geopolitical as well as economic benefits.

Backed by Chinese money and local sovereign debt, Chinese companies have pushed roads, railways, power plants, grids and pipelines through Africa and Asia at a much faster rate than ever seen through Western aid. Of course that can put the supposed beneficiaries at the mercy of their Chinese creditors.

East has surpassed West, whether we know it or not, says Peter Frankopan

In 2011, for example, China forgave neighbouring Tajikistan’s infrastructure-related debt in exchange for several hundred square kilometres of territory. A $7-billion rail line in Laos represents over 60% of the country’s GDP. A rail-building boom in Angola left citizens with a per capita debt to China of $754 out of a per capita income of $6,200. In 2017 a Chinese company got a 99-year lease in lieu of debt on the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, a strategic site for both commercial and military reasons. Other ports in Maldives, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands and Djibouti could face a similar fate.

Even so, something like 85% of BRI projects “have proceeded without difficulty,” Frankopan states. China conducts many of its most opportunistic acquisitions openly, like buying a controlling interest in Piraeus, the Athenian port since antiquity. Other seaport purchases have taken place in Spain, Italy and Belgium.

Strategic ports and an alliance with Pakistan help position China in the Indian Ocean, while China continues to expand its South China Sea presence by building artificial islands for military bases. This isn’t just “the crossroads of the global economy” but a ploy to extend military power thousands of miles farther, according to a U.S. Navy admiral. China’s ambitions continue in the disputed East China Sea, location of the 2010 Senkaku conflict, in which China’s rare earths tactics demonstrated yet another weapon in the country’s arsenal.

As an economic powerhouse as well as a “geopolitical alternative to the US,” China can profit from American sanctions on countries like Iran. Russia too challenges U.S. policies towards countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, while the latter shows its willingness to trade with Iran and buy arms from Moscow.

Military co-operation can create unlikely allies. Last summer, in Russian’s largest war games since 1981, Beijing contributed 30 fighter jets and helicopters along with more than 3,000 troops. Included in the exercises were simulated nuclear attacks.

While futurologists and networking pioneers often talk about how the exciting world of artificial intelligence, Big Earth Data and machine learning promise to change the way we live, work and think, few ever ask where the materials on which the digital new world [depends] come from—or what happens if supply either dries up or is used as a commercial or a political weapon by those who have a near-monopoly on global supply.—Peter Frankopan

Even India, America’s strongest Asian ally and the Asian country most wary of Chinese expansion, stands to undermine U.S. influence with proposed transportation connections and free trade with Iran and Afghanistan.

Yet obvious perils weaken any notion of a united Asia working harmoniously towards a common goal. Russian-Chinese military co-operation doesn’t preclude Moscow stationing its 29th Army 3rd Missile Brigade, with nuclear missile capabilities, near the Chinese border.

Time will tell whether other countries can overcome the Eurasian chaos that inspired this maxim of Canadian miners: “Never invest in a country with a name ending in ‘stan’.”

Then there’s extremist Islam. Uighurs from western China have fought in Syria for the Islamic State in numbers estimated “from several thousand to many times that number.” China risks wider Muslim anger by running a gulag archipelago for Muslims. The country’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region hosts “the largest mass incarceration of a minority population in the world today.”

Oddly enough for someone who knocks Western insularity, Frankopan seems to share the current preoccupation with the U.S. president. Among Frankopan’s criticisms of the West is its supposed opposition to immigration, even though that’s a marginal position within liberal countries but official policy in most of the East.

Nor does Frankopan mention the weird ideological zealotry that threatens to destabilize if not destroy the West from within.

Still, history’s greatest value might be perspective on the present. This historian’s view of the present and future can help Westerners understand their not-so-esteemed status in the Asian century.

Over 1,000 jobs threatened as Eldorado Gold calls for “rule of law” in Greece

January 12th, 2016

by Greg Klein | January 12, 2016

Saying a three-year building permit delay reflects a much wider problem, Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD on January 11 once again threatened to suspend its Greek projects. The company now wants a clear commitment to due process before it invests more money in the country.

Over 600 employees and contractors will lose their jobs with the suspension of the advanced-stage Skouries gold-copper project, where the company has already sunk around US$300 million. Another 500 jobs at Olympias, a gold-silver-lead-zinc past-producer also on northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula, depend on an installation permit arriving in Q1. As for the nearby Stratoni silver-lead-zinc mine, Eldorado “will continue to evaluate our investments.” Its other northern Greece projects remain on care and maintenance due to two-year delays over an environmental decision for Perama Hill and a drill permit for the Sapes project.

Over 1,000 jobs threatened as Eldorado Gold calls for rule of law in Greece

Among investments to be reconsidered is a possible
US$25-million drill campaign to extend Stratoni’s life expectancy.
(Photo: Eldorado Gold)

The company says its decisions result from “actions and/or inactions of the ministry and other agencies regarding the timely issuance of routine permits and licences, which is not only a legal responsibility but also a contractual obligation of the Greek state.”

Stratoni is one of Eldorado’s six operating mines, along with two gold producers in western Turkey and three more in China. An iron ore mine in Brazil remains on care and maintenance. The 95%-held Stratoni’s mine life is down to three years but the company suggested a US$25-million drill program could extend that lifespan.

A five-week suspension of all Halkidiki projects last autumn ended with a court injunction that temporarily overruled a ministry of energy and environment order that Eldorado move its metallurgical tests from Finland to Greece.

But now Eldorado says not even a court decision ordering the Skouries building permit would be “sufficient for us to go back to Skouries and hire everybody back,” president/CEO Paul Wright told a January 12 conference call. He insisted the company needs to see “this government coming to grips with the fact that this is something that’s good for society … and that they have a contractual obligation to fulfill their role. And we’re going to need to see that manifested in behaviour patterns and results from the government before we’re prepared to go back at this…. We’re no longer prepared to advance our project under the protective cover of the judiciary.”

Opposition to Eldorado’s projects have resulted in large demonstrations as well as vandalism and violence. But the company claims the support of most Halkidiki residents.

Eldorado last threatened to shut down its Greek operations in August, just as an election was called. The incumbent, anti-austerity Syriza party won enough seats to form another coalition government. Eldorado’s January 11 announcement precedes a January 13 meeting with the ministry of energy. Wright declined to say what would be discussed or whether the meeting affected the timing of his announcement.

The company promised additional capital and operating figures with its 2015 results and 2016 guidance, to be released January 25.

Eldorado Gold’s Grexit?

August 20th, 2015

As the country goes to the polls, the company issues a big fat Greek ultimatum

by Greg Klein

Eldorado Gold TSX:ELD isn’t mincing its words this time. The miner “cannot and will not continue to allocate expenditures to our projects in Greece while the Ministry of Energy is openly hostile to our activities,” declared CEO Paul Wright late August 20. The day’s top Greek story had been the government’s resignation and an impending election set for September. Now the suspension and possible termination of maybe 5,000 direct and indirect jobs add another dimension to the country’s economic crisis.

Eldorado says it acted in response to the previous day’s directive from the Ministry of Energy, which ordered suspension of pilot-scale metallurgical studies at a Finland facility. According to Eldorado, the ministry argued the tests should be conducted at a company site in Greece. Eldorado vowed to fight the decision through a court injunction.

As the country goes to the polls, the miner issues a big fat Greek ultimatum

Although Halkidiki mining dates back to antiquity, Eldorado’s
greenfield Skouries project has become a flashpoint for opposition.
(Photo: Eldorado Gold)

The ministry’s action was the latest in a number of government shots at the company. It followed court decisions just one week earlier which Eldorado said confirmed its right to forestry land and site clearing rights at the Skouries gold-copper project in northern Greece’s Halkidiki peninsula.

The region hosts three Eldorado assets, known as the Kassandra mines, within an approximately 10-kilometre radius. Activities at all three—including an active mine—are to be suspended next week. Failing satisfactory resolution of the Ministry of Energy dispute, Eldorado warns, the suspension will become a termination.

Eldorado’s 95%-held Skouries was to begin commissioning as an open pit in Q1 2017, followed by underground development. The company reckoned on a mine life of 27 years.

Its 95%-held Olympias is a past-producing underground gold operation with “significant amounts of silver, lead and zinc.” Ore processing was to begin next year, followed by ramp-up on completion of an eight-kilometre tunnel to a new mill. Eldorado estimated Olympias’ lifespan at 25 years.

Stratoni, an underground silver-lead-zinc mine, had about four years left to its life expectancy, ending a history said to date back to Alexander the Great.

As the country goes to the polls, the miner issues a big fat Greek ultimatum

Three Halkidiki projects, including an operating mine,
face suspension and possible termination.
(Map: Eldorado Gold)

North of Halkidiki lies Eldorado’s Perama Hill gold-silver deposit, a potential open pit that passed its preliminary environmental impact assessment (EIA) in 2012.

All the Halkidiki projects come under the same EIA. That’s Eldorado’s rationale for suspending all three, even though the previous day’s government directive concerned only Skouries and Olympias.

How can a country with such a long history of mining and an embattled economy turn “hostile” to the industry?

Much of the opposition focuses on Skouries, a greenfields project in Halkidiki’s wooded hill country. The governing Syriza party made its objections clear last February, one month after gaining office. That’s when the government revoked construction approval for Skouries’ processing plant. But complaints began well before Eldorado entered the region with its 2012 acquisition of European Goldfields.

Additionally, the country’s recurring anti-austerity demonstrations suggest a climate of protest that might be considered when media attributed a 2013 Thessalonika demo to 10,000 opponents of Eldorado. Only about 20,000 people live in Halkidiki, according to the company.

The region consists of 16 villages grouped within the Municipality of Aristotle, 11 of which “are openly pro-mining and so are the majority of the local residents,” Eldorado insists. Thessalonika, the country’s second-largest city, lies some distance to the west. To the east sits the semi-autonomous republic of Athos, home to several Orthodox monasteries and a site of pilgrimage.

As the country goes to the polls, the miner issues a big fat Greek ultimatum

East of the Kassandra mines, the monastic republic
of Athos draws pilgrims from around the world.
(Photo: Greg Klein)

An Agence France-Presse story posted by the Globe and Mail last April depicted one village where the controversy has set “neighbours and even family members at each others’ throats.” The article reported outbreaks of vandalism and firebombing hitting Eldorado property and a police station, as well as vandalism attacks against both supporters and opponents of the mines.

Opponents have no monopoly on demos, either. Thousands of angry employees protested in Athens last April, according to a Reuters dispatch in the Financial Post.

Although Eldorado’s August 20 decision threw thousands out of work just hours after the election was called, the company’s announcement made no mention of the election. By press time COO Paul Skayman hadn’t responded to a ResourceClips.com interview request. The company was unable to indicate when its court injunction might be heard.

While environmental concerns can never be shrugged off, the Greek economy stands to lose a great deal. Eldorado says it put over US$450 million into Skouries and Olympias since 2012. The government has so far pulled in over €50 million in payroll taxes, according to the company. Should the projects continue, the state would get another €1 billion in direct taxes over the next 20 years. The company would become one of Greece’s top exporters “with annual export revenues of approximately US$500 million per year depending on metal prices.”

Obviously the projects would benefit Eldorado too. Its Greek assets contain proven and probable reserves totalling approximately 8.9 million gold ounces, more than a third of the company’s global reserves of about 26 million ounces.

July 16th, 2015

Will Tesla turn Reno into the next Silicon Valley? Stockhouse
A free 10-ounce silver bar or a free Hershey bar? Guess what people chose SilverSeek
How do you get a $1-million portfolio? Equities Canada
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

July 15th, 2015

Wisconsin welcomes the seven-day work week Stockhouse
A free 10-ounce silver bar or a free Hershey bar? Guess what people chose SilverSeek
How do you get a $1-million portfolio? Equities Canada
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

July 14th, 2015

Wisconsin welcomes the seven-day work week Stockhouse
A free 10-ounce silver bar or a free Hershey bar? Guess what people chose SilverSeek
How do you get a $1-million portfolio? Equities Canada
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

July 13th, 2015

A free 10-ounce silver bar or a free Hershey bar? Guess what people chose SilverSeek
How do you get a $1-million portfolio? Equities Canada
World markets bump after Greece gets bailout Stockhouse
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

July 10th, 2015

Global stocks extend gains as Greece proposes budget overhaul, China surges Stockhouse
A bullion banker sings in Berkeley Square GoldSeek
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Everything you need to know about volatility Equities Canada
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

July 8th, 2015

NYSE resumes trading after lengthy stoppage—but what happened? Stockhouse
A bullion banker sings in Berkeley Square GoldSeek
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Everything you need to know about volatility Equities Canada
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals

July 8th, 2015

A bullion banker sings in Berkeley Square GoldSeek
Matt Badiali’s methods for investing in “Cowboyistan” Streetwise Reports
Everything you need to know about volatility Equities Canada
Gold producers see instant advantage should Greece exit euro NAI 500
The end of an era: Computers replace the trading pit’s brazen culture Stockhouse
Minerals hold up in slow oil and gas recovery Industrial Minerals