Vevi mine essential fuel for prospective Meliti II station

Development of Meliti II, a second carbon-fired power station for the main power utility PPC in the Meliti area, close to Florina in the country’s north, would not be possible without guaranteed supply from the nearby Vevi coal mine, as the power station would be deprived of fuel, both market and PPC officials have pointed out.

Just days ago, the Meliti II project’s prospects were shaken by remarks from energy minister Giorgos Stathakis, who declared that a new tender will need to be staged for the nearby Vevi coal mine license as, according to the minister, a previous competition did not comply with regulations. This license concerns one part of the Vevi mine. PPC currently controls the rest.

Presumably, CMEC (China Machinery Engineering Corporation), currently examining the prospect of developing the Meliti II unit, would not get involved if coal supply from the Vevi mine is not assured.

Responding to the minister’s intention, PPC officials were quick to note that besides the Ahlada coal mine, supplying the utility’s existing Meliti I power station, no other approppriate source of coal exists in the area at present.

PPC holds the rights to three coal mines in the region until 2023. The first of these, Klidi, faces serious issues as a result of landslides. The situation cannot be rectified, according to many.

As for the Vevi mine, two options are available. The mine could be co-exploited by PPC along with the privately-owned section. However, the section to which PPC holds mining rights would need to be worked on as a second stage. Another option would be for PPC to begin mining from the hill’s other side. But this would require the Vevi village to relocate. Such a process would require at least five years, not including any legal complications that can be expected to arise. Past cases, elsewhere, suggest that around a decade would be needed.

Lofi, the third coal mine in the region to which PPC holds mining rights, is a doubtful prospect. Questions linger over the quality and quantity of the coal deposit here.

On the contrary, the Vevi mine contains high-quality coal, scientific tests have shown. The coal quality is good enough to serve any thermal station in the country, experts believe.

It remains to be seen what steps the energy ministry will now take for the Vevi mine section to be licensed out to the private sector. An agreement signed in 2014 between the energy ministry of the time and the Aktor company never made it to Greek Parliament for ratification as a result of snap elections that led to political change and an election victory for Syriza, now heading the coalition.

The Bobolas group, which owns a 25 percent stake of Aktor parent company Ellaktor, a Greek construction giant, has repeatedly sought to complete the pending Parliamentary approval for the Vevi mine agreement.