President: Sakdrisi mining should cease until court reaches verdict

Margvelashvili today released a special statement that emphasized the cultural importance of Sakdrisi., 19 Dec 2014 - 17:52, Tbilisi,Georgia

Every civilized country is obliged to take care of its cultural heritage, said Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili while commenting the controversy surrounding Sakdrisi Gold Mine.

Margvelashvili released a special statement that emphasized the cultural importance of the ancient site.

"The Sakdrisi Gold Mine is one of the ancient monuments of Georgia’s cultural heritage and we have to protect each sample that expresses our identity,” the President’s statement read.

"Proceedings on the Sakdrisi case are still in progress in court. Everyone must wait until the process has concluded and only afterwards should the court ruling be implemented. Large-scale mining activities at the site are unacceptable before that,” Margvelashvili said.

The President said he believed the state should have acted in accordance with Georgian laws when dealing with this issue. The state should have been transparent in its process of deciding to allow mining at the site by letting interested social groups participate in the decision-making process.

Sakdrisi Gold Mine has been one of the country’s main topics of discussion after the Government approved private gold mining company RMG Gold to resume mining at the controversial site one week ago.

Mining resumed last Saturday – one day after the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection and the National Agency of Cultural Heritage Protection approved RMG Gold’s request to resume mining at the site. Some experts believed Sakdrisi Gold Mine was one of the oldest gold mines in the world, dating back almost 5,000 years.

News of re-establishing mining at Sakdrisi Gold Mine was harshly protested by one part of society who said RMG Gold did not have the right to continue working at the site as Tbilisi City Court was still discussing the Ministry’s notion to revoke the mine’s status as a cultural heritage site.

President Giorgi Margvelashvili also met with these protesters today and personally listened to their arguments.

The Sakdrisi Gold Mine was discovered in the early 2000s and excavations began in 2006. It was initially given the status of cultural heritage site but this was revoked by the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection in 2013.