Georgia has approved miner RMG Gold’s project at what may be the world’s oldest gold mine.
Russian owned RMG Gold (not to be confused with Australian miner RMG Limited) has received the go-ahead to operate an open cut mine at the Sakdrisi-Kachagiani project, a site in southern Georgia that archaeologists believe may be the site of the world’s oldest gold mine, according to Eurasianet.
In 2004 the Georgian National Museum and German Mining Museum uncovered mining tools in caves at the site which are understood to be from the third millennium BC, pre-dating ancient Egyptian mining artefacts.
According to the German Mining Museum the mine, which is 50kms south west of Georgian capital Tbilisi, geological analyses confirm the age of the mine workings.
However, the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection announced that “the ancient gold mine or the monument of universal significance was not proved to exist on the territory of Sakdrisi-Kachagiani”.
“The Government of Georgia considers it impracticable to impede employment of thousands of people and improvement of business environment based on a myth,” it said in an official statement, removing its protected historical site status after a commission said there were no grounds to justify the ‘illegal’ title
It approved mining on the site, which is believed to hold around 75 per cent of the 18 tonnes of gold on the tenements of RMG, which is one of the nation’s largest taxpayers.
One of the commission members added that claims gold was mined there more than 5000 ago as “scientific nonsense”.
The head of the Institute of Archaeological Studies at the Ruhr-University of Bochum and German Mining Museum, Thomas Stollner has started a petition to save the mine, stating that "one of the most important prehistoric mining sites will be destroyed forever".