Georgian civil, political society unite to save southern ancient gold mines in Dmanisi

The territory was leased for over 5,056,320 GEL. Photo from Didi Dmanisi/Facebook., 21 Mar 2018 - 14:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s civil and political society are joining forces to save one of the oldest gold mines in southern Georgia and to prevent Russian-owned gold and copper mining company RMG Gold from expanding its activities there.

For this reason, 14 political parties in Georgia established the Dmanisi Survival Foundation and took part in an auction announced by Georgia’s Ministry of Economy and won 16 hectares of land plot in Didi Dmanisi village of Dmanisi municipality on March 20.

As the Dmanisi Survival Foundation explains, this territory is near the area where RMG Gold is involved in the gold-mining business. In order to prevent RMG Gold company from gaining rights to 16 hectares of land in Didi Dmanisi, the Dmanisi Survival Foundation has agreed to put up 5,056,320 GEL (about $2,076,529/€1,690,648*) to lease the plot of land.

The foundation is obliged to transfer the sum to the Ministry of Economy within 45 days and sign an agreement, otherwise the results of the auctions of March 20 will be nullified and the winner will lose already paid warranties worth 3,750 GEL (about $1,540/€1253*).

Three participants of the auction – RMG Gold, Dmanisi Survival Foundation and one "interested party” - made offers for the plot.

To note, the Georgian Ministry of Culture had given the green light to RMG Gold to extract gold from the Sakdrisi mine in 2014. Sakdrisi Gold Mine is one of the oldest gold mines in the world and dates back almost 5,000 years. German and Georgian archeologists have been excavating the site since 2006.

A group of archaeologists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) opposed the company’s intention to launch an open-cast mine at the site. For a certain time RMG Gold’s activities in Sakdrisi were interrupted but the government authorities allowed RMG Gold to resume mining at the controversial site.

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

As the site was removed from the list of protected areas, RMG Gold was able to proceed with mining operations at the site.

*Currency conversions reflect National Bank of Georgia values as of today.