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Greece says arbitration over Eldorado mine plans to start in August

ATHENS, Aug 3 (Reuters) - Greece plans to start an arbitration process in August to settle its differences with Canada's Eldorado Gold Corp. over a gold mine development, the energy ministry said on Thursday.

Energy Minister George Stathakis met Eldorado's management in Athens on Wednesday and the two sides discussed the issue, the ministry said in a statement.

Eldorado is developing the Skouries and Olympias projects in northern Greece, where it also operates the Stratoni mine. Skouries has been a particular flash point with authorities, with differences persisting for years over testing methods applied to comply with environmental regulations.

"The ministry believes that resorting to arbitration with (Eldorado unit) Hellas Gold is the best solution to sort out all (outstanding) issues," the statement added.

The arbitration process is expected to finish by the end of the year, a ministry spokesman told Reuters.

Greece has said it wants to ensure that Hellas Gold respects its contractual obligations.

Licensing for Olympias is in the final stage, while permits for Skouries are pending, the ministry said. (Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Mark Potter)