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Wednesday, 18 January 2017


Tkibuli: Sad fate of a mining town

2012-12-07 17:52

Tkibuli: Sad fate of a mining town. 28808.jpeg

Georgian town of Tkibuli has been one of the flagships of the coal mining industry of the Georgian SSR. Now, the mining town is in decline. The local people are skeptical towards numerous promises to revive the coal industry, since most of specialists have long left Tkibuli forgotten by the authorities.


Modern man can hardly understand the strategic meaning of the coal a few decades ago - it was much more significant than oil today. For the war needs metal is required, and the coal is required for the production of iron and steel. Advanced metallurgy and coal mining allowed producing more tanks, artillery, cruisers and submarines.

Particular attention had been paid to the coal industry in the USSR. Wages of the miners were much higher than wages of workers in other industries. Mining towns and villages were provided with everything needed. Even today, in the Soviet "coal" centers there have remained faded traces of former prosperity. One of these cities is Tkibuli in western Georgia.

Some time ago this city, along with Tkvarcheli, was considered the flagship of the coal industry of the Georgian SSR. There operated four mines of the association "Gruzugol". Power of one of the developed coal seams with an eloquent title "Fat" reached up to 50 meters. For comparison, in Donbass they often develop the coal seams less than 1 meter. Two of the mines were eliminated, and the coal mining at the remaining two (Mindeli and Dzidziguri) was resumed only in 2006; however, its volume, compared to the times of the USSR, is miserable - about 200 thousand tons per year instead of 1 million. But the very fact of existence of the mines created at least several dozen jobs in the city, infected with chronic unemployment.

In recent years Tkibuli residents have repeatedly heard the promises to increase coal production and revive the city. People are accustomed to these words and treat them with skepticism. The famous in the city doctor Leo Dzhishiashvili soberly treats the prospects of the coal production increase: "Tkibuli mines are extremely dangerous because of methane. Even with the strictest observance of all safety rules there happened emergencies and explosions with casualties in Soviet times. Therefore mining revival in the city is hard process: you have to consider that most of professionals have left, but without skilled workers the risk of accidents and accidents increases dramatically".

Cases of accidents in recent years have become more frequent, compared to the Soviet times: on March 3, 2010, due to a gas explosion at the mine n.a. Mindeli 4 people died; and on August 27 the same year, an explosion at the mine killed three people, one more died later in the hospital. World index of "death toll" during the extraction of coal in four fatalities per 1 million tons is beyond the limits; and here we have 8 deaths per 0.2 million tons. This means that the security situation in Tkibuli is very poor.

Tkibuli today cannot be compared to any other city in Georgia in terms of the pace of decline. Nothing has been done in order to overcome this decline. Under Saakashvili the ex-Soviet legacy was clearly not in favor; so the Tkibuli, owing its formation and development entirely to "Soviet occupation", did not stand high in the Tbilisi authorities' esteem. Even the "guidance gloss" for tourists has not touched this town.

But the legacy of the Soviet era has been thoroughly dismantled. Boiler stations have been destroyed and dismantled; and the town, rich in coal, is using wood, due to which the locals are mercilessly cutting down surrounding forests.

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