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Tkibuli coal mine prospects

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 15
On May 12 President Saakashvili attended the opening of the Tkibuli coal enrichment factory. In his speech the President highlighted the importance of this event for the economic development of the country and the enhancement of Georgia’s energy security.

The old Tkibuli coal mine opened in 1846 and continued until 1990. During that period large quantities of coal were used to produce energy and power metallurgical and other industrial equipment, but later natural gas substituted it and the demand for coal decreased. In 2005 however the industry began to revive, and by 2006 four hundred people were again working at the old mine.

The modern coal enrichment factory has a capacity of 150 tonnes an hour. Experts say that the mine still contains reserves of 330 million tonnes. The primary consumers of the enriched coal will be the Zestaponi ferroalloy and cement factories. Some other enterprises, including the railways, might become Tkibuli customers as well. The enriched coal could also be exported to Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. By 2010 three million tonnes will be exported annually.

One tonne of coal costs USD 60-70 at the world markets. The revival of this industry can indeed strengthen Georgia’s energy independence and improve its foreign trade balance.