PM: Termination of mining works in Sakdrisi will leave 3,000 families unemployed

Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili responded to the recent development on the controversial Sakdrisi site today., 24 Dec 2014 - 17:34, Tbilisi,Georgia

Leaving 3,000 families without a job in the current situation in Georgia is a very big irresponsibility, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili today said while commenting on the developments around the controversial Sakdrisi Gold Mine.

On a Government meeting today, Garibashvili responded to yesterday’s demonstration by the employees of the Sakdrisi Mine, who were demanding renewal of the mining works, or jobs would dry up and they would be unemployed again.

"I want to once again address everyone – the society and politicians, who have great responsibility towards our voters, people and country. Before we make conclusions and announcements, we need to consider the fate of those people who are employed there. Leaving 3,000 families without a job in the current situation is a very big irresponsibility,” he said.

"I will not take this responsibility in front of these 3,000 families and tell them that the company should stop and their families should become unemployed on New Year. It will be cheating on these 3,000 families and I cannot do this,” Prime Minister noted.

"I know that the issue has emotional background and all monuments and archaeological discoveries are precious for us, but we have to choose which of these two is a greater good, especially when we are not planning to destroy the cultural artifact,” he said.

Prime Minister stressed that he was worried about the 3,000 families and not on the particular company RMG Gold.

"We approach this issue coming out from state’s interests. If there was a judicial misconduct, of course corresponding bodies will study it and fix it. But I think we should give the company opportunity to continue works there,” he said.

Garibashvili also became interested in the amount of loss the Bolnisi region underwent after the RMG Gold stopped mining works.

Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri said that Government was obliged to allocate 9 million GEL in the Bolnisi region this year, whereas in the previous years no money was spent on Bolnisi from the state budget.

"in 2012-2013 years, the wage fund of RMG Gold was 41 million GEL and 35 million GEL respectively. This means that throughout two years, 76 million GEL has been issues, while this amount decreased to 400,000 GEL,” Khaduri noted.

"The revenue formation of the Bolnisi region almost fully depends on this one company. This year we had to give the municipality 9 million GEL, whereas in previous years we did not give the region any money at all,” he said.

Minister of Culture Mikheil Giorgadze also commented on this issue and noted that the artifacts taken out from the territory of Sakdrisi will be taken to a protected space.

"The artifacts will be sorted and cleaned and used for museum exposition. Of course, the National Museum scientific potential will be widely and actively used while developing the concept for the artifacts. We will also invite international research team members, who worked on this object for years and we will invite all interested sides to take part in the development of this concept,” he 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.