The Georgian government has given RMG Gold the go-ahead to continue with its mining project at Sakdrisi-Kachagiani, a site in the country’s southeast region.
Opponents condemned the move because, according to some archeologists, Sakdrisi-Kachagiani might be the world’s oldest gold mine and they want to preserve the site’s rich history.
The Georgian Ministry of Culture carried out an investigation of the area and announced on March 14 that there’s no proof of the ancient mine’s existence.
“The government of Georgia considers it impracticable to impede employment of thousands of people and improvement of business environment based on a myth,” the ministry wrote in a news release.
The ministry will also invite “independent international experts” to monitor RMG’s mining operations at the site so that if a “scientific discovery” is made the excavated artefacts can be researched and placed in museums.
According to EurasiaNet, in 2004 archeologists from the National Museum of Georgia and the German Mining Museum uncovered caves and mining tools at Sakdrisi-Kachagiani which they believe date back to the third millennium BC.
Sakdrisi was previously listed as a protected historic site. The Ministry of Culture stripped it of this status in 2013, according to EurasiaNet, at which point Russian-owned RMG decided to begin developing the mine.
A group of archeologists and preservationists said last week that to allow the mining operation and “ignore” the results of nine-year-old scientific research and broad public interest would be a “huge injustice,” Georgian news outlet Civil.ge reported.
Last year the president of the German Association of Archaeology wrote to the Georgian government in support of preserving the site, calling the removal of its protected status “shameful.”
“If [these] plans are going to be implemented, not just Georgia, also Europe, will [lose] one of its most important prehistoric mining sites forever,” Dr. Hermann Parzinger wrote.
RMG is one of Georgia’s biggest taxpayers, according to EurasiaNet.
Reprinted by permission of MINING.com