PPC-CMEC deal resurfaces pending Vevi mine rights issue

Yesterday’s Memorandum of Understanding signed by main power utility PPC and China’s CMEC (China Machinery Engineering Corporation) for joint development of a second lignite-fired power station in Meliti, close to Florina, northern Greece, could serve as the vehicle to provide leading Greek corporation Aktor the rights to exploit the region’s major Vevi coal mine. The licensing procedure was bogged down by the country’s political transition that brought the Syriza party into power early in 2015.

Aktor, belonging to construction and media magnate George Bobolas, was the highest bidder in a tender for the Vevi mine’s rights. Aktor’s portfolio includes mining, quarrying, construction and photovoltaics.

“We will hold a discussion with the Prime Minister [Alexis Tsipras] during our meeting tomorrow [today] so that the Vevi matter may be cleared up,” PPC president Manolis Panagiotakis told journalists following yesterday’s MOU signing ceremony as Aktor’s deputy Dimitris Koutras listened on.

Aktor, along with the GEK Terna Group, whose CEO Giorgos Peristeris also attended yesterday’s signing ceremony, will join the PPC-CMEC Meliti power station venture the PPC chief noted yesterday.

Access to the major mine in Vevi, estimated to hold 60 percent of the area’s total lignite deposit, is essential to the PPC-CMEC partnership’s prospective power station, which would be fed by this deposit. The Greek-Chinese plan entails including the mine as an asset in the consortium to be established for the project.

The plan for Meliti II entails development of a 450-MW power station at a cost of 750 million euros. Necessary work needed at the regional mines to feed the facility will raise the cost to one billion euros. PPC is believed to be open to the prospect of becoming a junior partner in this venture.

According to energypress sources, Bobolas, Aktor’s chief, has repeatedly called for the Vevi mine deal’s finalization, requiring parliamentary approval. The MOU signed with CMEC is expected to provide the impetus required.

As the winning bidder for the Vevi mine’s rights, Aktor had signed an agreement with the previous administration’s environment and energy ministry in 2014, but it was not endorsed in parliament as a result of the ensuing elections.