TBILISI, DFWatch–RMG Gold, a company which owns mines in the south of Georgia, was Friday given permission to start mining work in Sakdrisi.
According to German and Georgian scientists, the site is an ancient mine with a rich history.
Deputy Culture Minister Alexandre Margishvili said RMG Gold has already been informed of the decision to allow them to continue mining, but he also said the permission to resume work was given under the condition that international experts and specialists will have access to monitor what is going on.
Margishvili claims that the issue of Sakdrisi has been under review for months and that archeology work has been carried out there for years.
“Today I can confirm that there is no ancient mine there. We have scientific conclusions about that and the Ministry of Culture will make a final decision,” he said.
Nika Antidze, Head of the Cultural Heritage Agency, said Friday that no ancient mine has been discovered in Sakdrisi.
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili said two days ago during a meeting with students that a special commission has been studying the issue of Sakdrisi for two months. He also said that no ancient mine has been discovered there.
“Investors invested about 300 million. Employer employees about 3 000 people and behind these people there are 3000 families,” Gharibashvili said.
He said the investor suggested moving important parts to the museum by use of modern technology, but no other details are so far known about this possibility.
Marine Mizandari, Former Deputy Culture Minister, who was allegedly fired in relation with a dispute about the Sakdrisi issue said at a press conference on Friday that eleven archeologists presented a report about Sakdrisi on January 13.
According to the report, the Sakdrisi site has not been fully studied and it is necessary to conduct additional examinations there; that is why RMG Gold wasn’t allowed to carry out mining work there.
Mizandari continued saying that the Culture Ministry Saturday claimed that there is no ancient mine in Sakdrisi, while no other studies were carried out there after January 13.
Art historian Lali Pertenava said at a joint press conference with Mizandari that non-government organizations will appeal the ministry’s decision through the courts. She hopes that the mine won’t be destroyed until the court makes a final decision.
Sakdrisi mine used to have status of cultural heritage from 2006 to July 5, 2013 and was considered as ancient gold mine. July 5, the Culture Ministry granted it status as archeological monument, but took the status away on October 1.
Journalist Nino Mikiashvili protested against the Culture Ministry’s decision and started a hunger strike outside the office of the ministry.
Police detained her and released her after questioning.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, at the end of the day the office was about to close, but Mikiashvili refused to leave. That’s why employees called the police.
Mikiashvili told Interpressnews that she was released only after verbal explanation. She said police was polite and didn’t exceed their powers.