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14 Opposition Parties Win Auction of Land at Sakdrisi Gold Mine

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 23
14 Georgian opposition parties, united under Dmanisi Saving Fund, have won the auction of the 16 ha land, adjacent to Sakdrisi Gold Mine and archeological site near Dmanisi, Kvemo Kartli region.

The initial price of the land for 10 year disposal was 15,000 GEL ($6,133), however, in the end, the fund managed to win the auction for 5,056,000 GEL ($2,073,575).

The parties decided to take part in the auction after it became known that there was only one participant of the auction, mining company RMG Gold, which has been obtaining gold from Sakdrisi mine since 2013.

The land, which has been put up at auction, is located right next to the area, where RMG is carrying out works.

The opposition parties accuse RMG Gold of obtaining gold without observing necessary norms and of being connected to tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party and former Prime Minister of Georgia.

They bought the land to prevent the company from carrying out additional mining works, saying they would not let billionaire Ivanishvili get additional money from the state land.

The parties also claim the works of RMG Gold negatively affect the health of the locals, adding they suffer from grave diseases, especially cancer.

In the end three sides took part in the auction: Dmanisi Saving Fund, RMG Gold and the third interested person whose name is unknown.

Now the Fund has 45 days to transfer the money to the Ministry of Economy, however, during these days the members of the Foundation will be able to enter the territory and look around.

The parties have already paid 3,GEL as a guarantee, but if they fail to collect the money and transfer it to the ministry, the auction will be annulled and new one will be announced.

Giorgi Vashadze, one of the members of Dmanisi saving Fund and the leader of non-parliamentary opposition party, New Georgia, the foundation has not been officially registered, adding the Justice Ministry “deliberately” hindered the process.

As the politician says, after the procedures of the registration are over, volunteers can transfer money to the found and help to gather 5 million.

Vashadze explained that people are interested to “save” the land hopes they will gather the necessary sum.

“Next week we will take appropriate measures. We saw a huge interest from the population. Many people have stated they are willing to participate in this process financially assist us,” Vashadze added.

Along the opposition parties, the representatives of Sakdrisi Protection Committee, composed of Non-Governmental Organizations, environmentalists and ordinary people are also against that RMG Gold obtained the 16 ha land.

They accuse the company of the air, water and soil contamination at Sakdrisi.

Local and foreign archaeologists claim there are traces of old humans in Sakdrisi dating back 5,000 years. The Sakdrisi mountain-archaeological mine is believed to be the world's oldest gold-mining center. The settlement from the Bronze-Age period is found on this territory. In 2006, the mine was granted the status of cultural monument, which was lifted in 2013.