World's oldest gold mine in Georgia a 'myth,' says government

World's oldest gold mine in Georgia a 'myth,' says government

Ministry of Culture and Monument Protection of Georgia press conference, March 14, 2014 | Photo from Ministry news release

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 archaeologists, 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 last Friday 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 archaeologists from the National Museum of Georgia and the German Mining Museum uncovered caves and mining tools at Sakdrisi-Kachagianiare which they believe date back the third millennium, BC.

Sakdrisi was previously listed as a protected historical site. The Culture Ministry 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 archaeologists 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 new 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 this plans are going to be implemented not just Georgia, also Europe, will loose one of its most important prehistoric mining sites forever," Dr. Hermann Parzinger wrote.

RMG is one of Georgia`s biggest taxpayers, according to Eurasianet.