Tbilisi Civil Court suspends mining at Sakdrisi Gold Mine

As Günter Bechler stated, he was closely watching the situation in Sakdrisi.
Agenda.ge, 03 Jun 2014 - 12:56, Tbilisi,Georgia

A court ruling has overturned a Ministerial decision to allow Russian-owned mining company RMG Gold to continue mining at the Sakdrisi Gold Mine in southern Georgia.

Tbilisi City Court yesterday ordered mining to temporarily halt at the Sakdrisi Gold Mine while the court continued to deliberate the case.

Until the final verdict had been made, the Court ruled RMG Gold was forbidden to excavate mineral resources at Sakdrisi site.

"In this particular case due to the specifics of the subject, it is important to save the uniqueness of the object, the qualities and characters, as well as the maintenance of the environment which made it historical, cultural or have archaeological value”, the Court stated.

The Court decision overturned a March 13 order by Minister of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia Guram Odisharia, which allowed RMG Gold to continue large-scale mining at the site.

Sakdrisi Gold Mine is one of the oldest gold mines in the world and dates back almost 5,000 years. German and Georgian archaeologists have been excavating the site since 2006.

Several expert archaeologists believed the gold mine was the oldest mine in the world however Georgia’s Ministry of Culture would not confirm if the gold and golden ores being mined dated back to the prehistoric era.

The ancient mine, which stretched 50 metres deep, was discovered only a few years ago by Georgian and German archaeologists.

In 2013, the Ministry of Culture revoked the Sakdrisi Gold Mine’s status of a place of cultural heritage, citing the site had been enlisted through procedural violations. The Ministry decided the site should retain an archaeological site status but after three months this status was also removed.

RMG Gold then applied to the Ministry of Culture to allow mining to continue at Sakdrisi Gold Mine. This was greeted with protests by archaeologists.