In Chiatura, employees of the Shukruti mine stopped working. Miners have been struck by unfulfilled promises from Georgian Manganese. They are appealing a lawsuit filed by the company against them. They have blocked the entrance to the Shukruti mine and do not allow cars to move. Locals say mines have caused problems in their village, and houses and roads have been damaged.
Georgian Manganese's statement regarding rally in Shukruti
By Natalia Kochiashvili
Wednesday, February 19
Residents demand compensation from the company, otherwise, they are not going to stop the protest. They are calling for Georgian Manganese to suspend work or pay compensation to residents as they claim that their homes are being damaged due to mining operations.
According to residents, they were seeking compensation from the company, while Georgian Manganese sued them in September for suspending work, demanding GEL 5.5 million. According to the miners, there are currently 8 mines suspended and the work will not resume until their requirements are met.
In this regard, Georgian Manganese has issued a statement denying reports that employees at the company went on strike, noting that all employees are currently involved in the manufacturing process.
Georgian Manganese said the protests in Shukruit have halted the company's production process, which was preceded by numerous meetings between the company and the population, where problematic issues were discussed, including Georgian Manganese Special Manager Nikoloz Chikovani’s suggestion to negotiate, which was refused.
Even though Georgian Manganese has not been mining in the troubled areas of Shukruti for years (Shukrut is one of the villages where mining was abandoned since Soviet times), a special commission has been set up by the company, which started studying the problems of the local population. At the same time, an independent expert group - the Center for Engineering Studies - was hired, which concluded that the damage to houses in Shukruti was unrelated to the production of Georgian Manganese and was caused by the extraction of manganese from the village during the Soviet period. It was also found that the abovementioned injuries were fully compensated by the relevant authorities at that time.
The statement also notes that in the early '90s the Shukruti village was also hit by an earthquake and then the state provided appropriate compensation to the population. Compensations were granted on the assumption that the residents would buy houses with the amount they received. Most of them received compensation and stayed in the area.
Georgian Manganese announced that the company has taken into account the problems of the local population and took high social responsibility due to their poor living conditions. The company's working group offered various initiatives to locals- to purchase and transfer alternative housing within the district, including in the city of Chiatura, or to redeem existing homes and use of funds at their discretion.
Georgian Manganese noted they offered the population to investigate through private audit companies themselves, order their property valuation and negotiate independently with the aforementioned organizations, while Georgian Manganese would pay the service fee. Georgian Manganese said it is ready to provide compensation Shukruti residents based on the findings of the audit companies.
After locals accepted the proposal, the company hired two different audit companies, but because of the disagreement, one-to-one talks initially stopped.
According to the statement, the company is ready to continue negotiating with the population constructively, considering social responsibility, as they seek ways of resolving the problems they have voiced.
Georgian Manganese employs 3.8,000 locals in Chiatura, while the additional 1.8 thousand people are employed in the contracting companies.
In addition to the lighthouse events, the company has other deterrents, including investigations by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Finance into the registration of illegal land with fraudulent documents.
Currently, individuals who have illegally seized land in Chiatura municipality are being prosecuted and detained.
“It is important to complete this process, as well as to investigate the facts of the seizure of land in the company's licensing areas, which hampers the operation of the company,” said Georgian Manganese.