Controversial Sakdrisi Gold Mine employees demanding resuming operation

The banner read: “Why are not you protecting our interest? Photo by, 23 Dec 2014 - 19:47, Tbilisi,Georgia

The employees of the Sakdrisi Gold Mine in southern Georgia demanding reestablishing mining at the controversial site said if RMG Gold, a company carrying out the mining operation stopped working at the site, jobs would dry up and they would be unemployed again.

People who lived in Kazreti township, near Sakdrisi together with employees at the mine held a protest which began at the Presidential Palace and continued at the Administration of Government of Georgia.

"All people live in Bolnisi district will join the protest,” said the participant of the protest Lia Ajiashvili.

Meanwhile, one of the member of a group commonly known as the Sakdrisi Protectors came at the protest rally said that those were the people who are looking for the jobs and the government was using them for destroying the cultural heritage.

"RMG Gold will carry out the mining operation only for a year and after that these people will stay out of work,” said Leila Tsomaia member of a group of Sakdrisi Protectors. She demanded action to save the historical artifact from being permanently destroyed by mining.

Meanwhile, the employees at Sakdrisi met the Head of the Government of Georgia’s Administration Maia Tskitishvili and presented their demands.

Furthermore, they asked Tskitishvili to support their interests.

However, Tskitishvili said that they would study the problem in detail.

"Currently, people are demanding reestablishing mining at Sakdrisi. The decision whether to resume mining at site has to be decided by the Government. The government will discuss this issue and make an appropriate decision on the objective circumstances of the case. We consider the position of all the parties, which are discussing the given problem during all this period, with full responsibility", Tskitishvili said.

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 on December 12 – 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.

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.

A court debate is still going on about revoking the [cultural heritage] status of the monument.