(DF Watch.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgian Manganese is temporarily shutting down its mines western Georgia for four months due to a low demand for manganese.

GM owns the mines in Chiatura, a mountain town in the western Imereti province.

According to a statement issued by the company, the temporary halt in production will begin on January 20 and end on May 20.

During the halt in operations, employees will keep their jobs and receive 60 percent salary, with medical insurance.

The company has enough resources for a four month shutdown, which is necessitated by a ‘deep stagnation processes’ on the world metallurgical market.

“It was a difficult decision to make and we share the concern of our employees, but we believe this is the only reasonable way to save the company,” GM director Velvel Lozinsky said on Monday.

Manganese has been extracted in Chiatura for more than 135 years. The town has a population of twenty thousand, four thousand out of whom are employed in the mining industry.

The company will sign contracts with the employees for the following four months.

Ore extracted in Chiatura is transferred to the smelter plant in Zestaponi, which exports ferroalloys abroad.

According to the National Statistics Department ferroalloys is Georgia’s second most significant export product. From January to November, 2015, Georgia exported ferroalloys worth USD 186 million. This is 9 percent of the country’s entire export.