The Statement of EaP Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform

18 Feb, 2014

Sakdrissi-Kachagiani gold min

February, 2014

Sakdrissi gold mine is located in Dmanisi and Bolnisi municipalities of Kvemo Kartli region of Georgia. Sakdrissi-Kachagiani gold mine was accidentally discovered by geologists of the company ‘Madneuli’ who worked on exploration of gold in Sakdrissi area. Georgian geologists informed archeologists about the findings.

The National Museum Archaeology Research Group in collaboration with German scientists has been researching gold mines in Sakdrissi and Balitshi-Dzedzvebi old settlements since 2004. The research revealed that gold mine Sakdrissi-Kachagiani is dated by the end of the 4th millennium and beginning of the 3rd millennium BC as a monument of 5400 years old and is the oldest gold mine found in the world. The monument was formed 1000 years ahead of the famous ancient Egyptian mines.

The prehistoric mine goes 50 meters into the ground. There were found the ancient settlement, graves, mine workshops, numerous tools: a stone hammer, coal after fire, grinders and pounding tools from stone, bone ‘scrapers’, and ceramics. The findings are evidence of the whole cycle of development of gold processing activities on Bolnisi territory. The research of the object was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.

The Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection granted the status of immovable cultural monument to Sakdrissi-Kachagiani in 2006. The decision was made to ensure the protection of the monument. Gold mining company ‘RMG Gold’, which has possessed a mining license since the purchase of the company Madneuli, requested from the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection to make the Commission to review the status of immovable monument of Sakdrissi-Kachagiani. The Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection formed the commission, which included the ‘RMG Gold’s contractors. Based on the evidence presented after conflicting conclusions the status of immovable monument of Sakdrissi-Kachagiani was abolished. Despite the fact that this conclusion was not confirmed by the few members of Commission by order of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia (№03/108, 5 July 2013) and the President of Georgia (№563, 10 July 2013) Sakdrissi-Kachagiani ancient gold mine was removed from the list of immovable monuments of cultural heritage.

By the decree of the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of July 5, 2013 # 03 / 108, paragraph 3, the relevant department of the Ministry was entrusted to provide measures for granting the status of movable monument to an important cultural heritage object in Sakdrissi- Kachagiani archaeological zone. However, the object has not been granted the status of a movable monument. In addition, it is virtually impossible to transfer hundreds of thousands of tons of rock from one place to another place and establish a museum. A similar incident does not happen in the world.

On 7 October 2013 the government abolished the joint decree # 1436 from July 17, 2006 of the Ministry of Culture, Monuments Protection and Sports and Ministry of Economy of Georgia, which mentions ‘Sakdrissi mining industry archaeological zone’. As a result the area was stripped from the archaeological protection zone.

The company ‘RMG Gold’s representatives argue that Sakdrissi-Kachagiani does not represent any valuable object, and it must be destroyed and recycled. Despite the opinion of many experts and the conclusion that the present value of Sakdrissi gold mine reserves are much less significant than its importance and value as the cultural heritage site the company ‘RMG Gold’ – does not avoid demolition of the object. Although there are different techniques of mining activities that provide the possibility of the working process without damage to historical monuments.

On January 8, 2014,  the Scientific Research Group of Archaeology Research Center at National Museum addressed the Ministry of Culture and Protection of Georgia and provided registration documentation for Sakdrissi – Kachagiani with the purpose of granting the status of cultural heritage monument to the above mentioned object.

Advisory body to the Ministry of Culture and Cultural Protection – the Strategic Section of the Council of Protection of Cultural Heritage discussed the issue and unequivocally recommended to the Minister to grant monument status to the object.

On January 13, 2014, the Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia, citing the need for continuation of research of Sakdrissi-Kachagiani as of a cultural heritage monument, did not issue license for mine obtaining activities to the company ‘RMG Gold’. Nevertheless the company does not allow scientists to perform photo fixation in Sakdrissi-Kachagiani and continue research in Sakdrissi area.

Georgia has ratified the Valetta Convention to save its immobile and mobile cultural heritage, which is also underlined in Association Agreement initiated by EU and Georgia.

Sakdrissi_Kachagiani gold mine is a cultural heritage of international importance. Therefore, we appeal to the Minister of Culture and Monument Protection, to declare sharply and publicly the position of the Ministry immediately, accept the recommendation of the Council, take into account high public interest, and recommendations of national and international scientific community on granting again the status of immovable monument of cultural heritage to Sakdrissi-Kachagiani and support continuation of International scientific research of the site.

We also appeal to the international organizations and representative bodies in Georgia and abroad to consider today’s extremely dangerous condition for the object of the worldwide importance – Sakdrissi-Kachagiani and to respond for its survival.

Three supporting letters from German scientists are enclosed.

The information about Sakdrissi monument on websites:

Please also find the list of undersigned organizations from EaP Civil Society Forum Georgian National Platform

Signatory organizations:

1.      Open Society Georgia Foundation 

2.      Foundation “Multi- Ethnic Resource Centre on Civic Education Development”

3.      European Initiative – Liberal Academy Tbilisi 

4.      Georgia Press Association 

5.      International Organization of Human Rights protection and Prisoners social welfare 

6.      Foundation “Caucasus Environment”

7.      Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies 

8.      Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Georgian National Committee

9.      Civic Development Institute

10.  Save The Future Generation

11.  Women’s Initiatives supporting Group

12.   Energy Efficiency Foundation

13.  Association European Studies for the Innovative Development of Georgia

14.  Association for the Farmers’ Rights Defence 

15.  Georgian Association of Regional Broadcasters 

16.  Association “Toleranti”

17.  International Center of Geopolitical research

18.  UN Association of Georgia 

19.  International Foundation “LEA”

20.  Economic Policy Research Centre

21.  Georgian Civil Development Association 

22.  Institute for Development of Freedom of Information 

23.  IDP Association “Consent” 

24.  Centre for Cultural Relations – Caucasian House

25.  Caucasian House Georgia 

26.  Youth Association “Droni”

27.  Cultural-Humanitarian Fund “Sukhumi” 

28.  Union “Borjghalo”

29.  Civitas Georgica

30.  The Greens Movement of Georgia

31.  International Business and Economic Development Centre

32.   Coalition for Independent Living  

33.  Foundation for Media Development  

34.  International Center on Conflict and Negotiation 

35.  International Center for Civic Culture 

36.  Teachers’ Union “Education and Universe” 

37.  Biological Farming Association “Elkana”

38.  Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia

39.  Public Advocacy 

40.  Healthy World

41.  Peaceful and Business Caucasus

42.  Human Rights Centre

43.  United Public Movement “Multinational Georgia” 

44.  Caucasus Environmental NGO network

45.  Student Youth Council 

46.  Civil Society Institute

47.  Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association 

48.  Union “Article 42 of the Constitution”

49.  Community Foundation GENIUS LOCI 

50.  Association “Woman and Business” 

51.  World Experience for Georgia

52.  International Center for Advancement of Research, Technology & Innovation

53.  Repatriates’ Union 

54.  Caucasus Institute for Economic and Social Research 

55.  “Caucasian Mosaic” 

56.  Green Wave

57.  Young Journalists Association “New Vision”

58.  Institute for the Development of Civil Society – Kvemo Kartli

59.  Kutaisi Education Development and Empolyment Center

60.  Association “Psychea”

61.  Youth Alternative

62.  Penal Reform International

63.  Institute for Policy Studies

64.  Association “Atinati”

65.  Caucasian University Women

66.  Free Choice


67.  Union ”ADC Studio” 

68.  Association of Tea Producers Georgia “Georgian Tea”

69.  Unity of Georgian Armenians “Nor Serund”

70.  Center for youth Support and Social Assistance

71.  Association of Russian Speaking Journalists of Georgia

72.  Young Reformers for Rural Development

73.  Students International Initiative

74.  “TASO Foundation”