NE Halkidiki: Sustainable development via mining and tourism

Northeast Halkidiki is one of the best areas in Greece where alternative forms of tourism can co-exist. It perfectly blends 300 entire kilometres of coastline with three mountainous massifs in the hinterland, where lifestyles are diverse and unique.

The Halkidiki peninsula’s “third finger” is home to imposing, world-renowned, unique historical monuments. Here lies Mt. Athos, the cradle of the Orthodox faith. It is also the birthplace of Greece’s greatest philosopher, Aristotle, and was the place that led Xerxes, the King of Persia, to create the famous canal that is the only trace of the Persian presence to be found in Europe. This corner of Halkidiki was also the place where the famous mining villages, the Mademohoria, were founded and flourish under Ottoman rule.

It is in this unique landscape where natural phenomena on the surface ‘blend’ with history to create an exceptional tourist product, that the subsoil contains a wide variety of mineral ores. Just some of these are gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc and manganese.

It was the existence of such mineral wealth that helped the kingdom of  Macedon grow and develop, and which helped take Aristotle’s pupil, Alexander the Great, to the far corners of the world to impart Greek culture and values to the known world.

Today those same deposits are guiding the activities of Hellas Gold, offering the NE Halkidiki area a unique opportunity for economic growth based on unparalleled global standards.

The first step in implementing Hellas Gold’s plan to revitalize the local economy, and the tourism sector in particular, is frank, ongoing, direct dialogue and consultation with local players. We have been engaged in dialogue with them for around 3 years, supporting initiatives and in particular have been supporting plans to promote the local tourism product, listening to the area’s needs and planning infrastructure / development works that will promote the tourist reputation of this gateway to Mt. Athos.

Key priorities in our policy, in close co-operation with the Greek State and the local Authorities, are to create a tax free zone for gold and silver items for the areas of Ierissos, Nea Rhoda and Uranoupoli, and to design a Mining Trail Park that will allow visitors to get to know the mining history of the area by visiting old mining shafts, see the way mining was done in the past, enjoy multimedia shows about how metals are produced, and so on. Our overriding aim is to attract visitors from Greece and abroad to the area.

Hellas Gold’s objective is not simply to support parallel activities such as tourism, culture, education and sport. That goes without saying, and is an obligation for any investor; for any frank, right-thinking and right-acting social partner.

Moving beyond our self-evident obligations, it is our goal to develop tourism in parallel with mining so that both sectors serve as driving forces for development in the area, for both to co-exist, interact and reach a balance so that NE Halkidiki can become a model for the development of the rest of the country.

It is with these thoughts and views in mind that we are investing in and producing a project of real merit; having won the trust and partnership of local government and the local players we are now taking sure and firm steps and within a few years our investment plan will have been implemented. We remain firmly convinced that our project will set an historic precedent and will be widely imitated.

Kostas Georgantzis