Rehabilitation in action: from tailings ponds to green space in Greece

This week, as part of our ongoing tailings management series, we will guide you through one of our rehabilitation projects we have been working on in Greece. At our Olympias site in the Halkidiki Peninsula, we have been overseeing one of the largest environmental rehabilitation projects in the country.

Olympias Tailings

Mining activities by the previous project owner left behind more than 2.4 million tonnes of tailings. We have been rehabilitating 26.5 hectares of land, an area equivalent to the size of about 35 soccer fields, with the aim of returning the Olympias valley to a green area.

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As we removed the old tailings and reprocessed them, we also restored soil to the area so that it could support vegetation. As part of this project, we completed tests with the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki to identify which native plants best suited the area.

Olympias Plant Nursery

Olympias Plant Nursery

The rehabilitation project requires a lot of plants and we are growing native species in our 15 hectare nursery, one of the largest in northern Greece. Located on land previously restored by Eldorado, the nursery is watered with excess water from our mine sites in Halkidiki. Plants go through an innovative “toughening” process, in which they are left without fertilizer in order to habituate them to the imperfect growing conditions found outside the nursery and increase their chance of survival. Following this process, they are planted at the site.

Here’s a short video that shows the rehabilitation work we’ve been doing at Olympias.

At this time, our clean-up efforts are currently on hold pending a reinstatement of our operating permits from the Greek Government. We hope to be back to work soon.

The Olympias rehabilitation project requires a lot of plants. Next week we’ll talk about the nursery where these plants come from – don’t miss it!

Related Stories

Did you miss the first posts in our series on tailings? Check out our tailings management 101, and our profile on Tanjianshan’s tailings facilities.

Our 2014 Sustainability Report has more information on how we protect the environment.

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