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The Recidivist Owns Manganese Extraction Licenses in Shkmeri

Thursday, 13 January 2022 22:07 hits 958 times

The examination showed that "Technology 2021", owning a 10-year manganese exploration and extraction license, started the process without fulfilling legal obligations. The company has not presented the assessment of the impact on Emerald Network. There are no scoping reports, meaning that we do not know the impact open-pit mining will have on the environment and health. Moreover, "Technology 2021" started excavation without the landowners' permission.

 Untrustworthy company and director with previous convictions

Two companies, "Technology 2021" and "MN North", founded four days before issuing mineral exploration and extraction licenses; share the owner – Giorgi Ninikashvili.

According to the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia, Giorgi Ninikashvili was convicted on several occasions, including illegal mining in Chiatura.

 He was pleaded guilty of manufacturing or purchasing forged credit cards or charge cards, or other payment documents or of title documents other than securities to sell or use them, also their sale or use; illegal entrepreneurial activities committed jointly by more than one person; money laundering; Poisoning, degradation or making land otherwise unfit for service with harmful substances during entrepreneurial, economic or other activities caused by the breach of the procedure for handling fertilizers, plant growth stimulants, pesticides, other chemical or biological substances during their storage, use or transport that results in damage to human health or damage of the environment. As a result, imprisonment, conditional discharge, fine, and property expropriation were applied to Ninikashvili.

"Mtis Ambebi" tried to contact Giorgi Ninikashvili without success. Meanwhile, we are waiting for the Department of Common Courts to know when and why he was released from incarceration.

On November 18, 2021, Giorgi Ninikashvili offered a memorandum to residents of Shkmeri. He would excavate 200-meters sections of land step by step, refilling them simultaneously to avoid the situation of Chiatura. However, residents of Shkmeri, both seasonal and permanent, refused to sign the agreement.

The primary argument they have is the satiation in Chiatura. "Georgian Manganese" and its contractors have excavated land lots, yards, forest, and roads; everything they expect to find manganese.

Impoverished locals either let the company enter their property in return for a small compensation or are left powerless against the invasion of heavy construction equipment.

The National Agency of Mines examined the works of "Technology 2021" in November, based on the "Green Alternative" complaint. There are several significant violations indicated in the findings.

  • The company started mining without establishing the reserve.
  • They have not presented the assessment of the impact on Emerald Network.
  • They have not defined the scope of the process.  
  • Excavation fields are not arranged according to the schedule.
  • The company started working on private property without an agreement with the owners. 

 

What is the Emerald Network?

The Emerald Network is an ecological network made up of Areas of Special Conservation Interest. Its implementation was launched by the Council of Europe as part of its work under the Bern Convention, adopting Recommendation No. 16 (1989) of the Standing Committee to the Bern Convention.

Setting up the Emerald Network at the national level is considered one of the main tools for the Contracting Parties to comply with their obligations under the Bern Convention.

Any procedure on the territory of the network that may affect the environment requires the assessment of the impact on Emerald Network. According to the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, the territory owner must protect the area from negative influence and not damage the ecologic characteristics protected by the Emerald Network.

Licensing conditions control unit of the National Agency of Mines issued the administrative offense protocol against "Technology 2021". However, the court session was postponed without the determined date.  

On November 22, the agency sent materials proving the illegal extraction to Irakli Mukniashvili, Head of the Department of Environmental Supervision. According to the letter from the department to "Mtis Ambebi," they examined "Technology 2021" and found occasions of illegal mining. The materials were sent to the Prosecutor's Office of Georgia.

 

Lawsuit to Revoke the Licenses

Goga Gagnidze, "Green Alternative", and "Social Justice Center", authors of the lawsuit demanding the revocation of two licenses issued in July, declare that the agency violated national law and international agreements, such as the Aarhus Convention.

The hearing was held in the ministry of Economy on December 15. The two-month pending period is over, but there is no written decision. Temur Meshveliani, a representative of the Ministry of Economy, stated that this could be considered the "virtual refusal".

Nino Gujaraidze, executive director of "Green Alternative", says they plan to appeal against the decision of the Ministry of Economy. However, it cannot suspend the license. Moreover, the court often starts review after several years. Meanwhile, the company can start extraction if they meet the criteria set by the National Agency of Mines.

 

Disrupted Meeting

On December 26, the city hall of Oni planned a meeting between the movement "Shkmeristvis", National Agency of Mines, Ministry of Economy, and representatives of the local government. Eventually, the National Agency of Mines and Ministry of Economy refused to participate.

The initiative group plan to devise a draft law to create Shkmeri protected areas.

In January 2019, The Government of Georgia introduced the draft law "about the creation and management of Racha National Park", but it was never reviewed. Besides, the area of Shkmeri is not included in this draft law. Moreover, even if the document is ratified, rivers Rioni, Chveshuri, and Zopkhitauri will also stay out of the protected area because power plant building permissions and mining licenses on these territories are owned by groups closely associated with the Georgian Government.

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