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GIG to Give the Deadly Mine to Gov’t

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, July 18
The Georgian Industrial Group (GIG), which is the largest industrial holding in Georgia owning Saknakhshiri coal mining company, is ready to gift the company to the state after the deadly blast in the Tkibuli Mindeli Mine on July 16, which claimed the lives of four miners and left six others with severe burns and bruises.

GIG states that despite millions of GEL worth of investments for the Georgian coal mining company over the past 12 years, they "were unable” to find an engineering solution which would make work in the Tkibuli mines absolutely safe, referring to the Mindeli and Dzidziguri mines in western Georgia.

“Despite the expenses we have made we are ready to give the company free of charge to the state,” the holding says.

Sozar Subari, the former refugee minister who has been appointed as the advisor of the Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze, says that it is not for the first time when the holding makes such an offer.

“Working with Saknakhshiri was not an easy task. It has always raised such an alternative-‘the business is not profitable and we are ready to suspend.” With such statements they [the company] have always made us [the government] stand in the opposition of the people who are against the closure of the mine, as it is the only source of income for them. On the other hand, the company statements about the suspension did not seem strong enough and we used to take the people’s interests into account,” Subari said.

He stated that the government’s response to the offer was that now all the parties should wait for the investigation results.

On the second day after the accident miners gathered in Tkibuli, protested against the possible closure of the Mindeli mine.

"We do not share the position that the mine should be closed in Tkibuli. Whole town will die of hunger if the mine is closed. We have families and children, we need money and the mine must not be closed," protesters said and demanded the improvement of safety standards in the mines.

The Prime Minister Bakhtadze stated on the day of the accident that Tkibuli mine would not resume the operation until the end of the investigation while employees of the mine would be compensated for that period.

Health condition of four miners remains critical, while two others received light injuries.

Since 2010, 26 miners have died in the Mindeli mine only.