This article was published by Al Jazeera International.
A worker injects pure oxygen into furnace number one to coax out molten nickel-iron at a temperature of 1,300 degrees Celsius
LARYMNA, Greece - The final countdown has begun for Larco, the European Union’s only remaining nickel smelter, and its 1,260 workers and their families. The Greek state can no longer afford to finance it and has given it a final dowry of 35mn euros and a year to find an investor.
“If during this period three quarters of Larco’s assets haven’t been sold, the company must file for bankruptcy,” finance minister Christos Staikouras told parliament.
Larco sits at the centre of a $170mn economy. In addition to its miners, smelters and office workers, more than 22,000 suppliers and contractors are dependent on it, so shuttering it would entail a high political cost.
But the eight month-old New Democracy government has its sights fixed on a new age of smaller government, lower taxes, renewable energy and competitive, high-tech services, and appears impatient to close the book on an attempt at heavy industry that began in the 1950s and was largely bankrupt thirty years later.