Photo Stories: The Black Gold
Chiatura is the largest manganese reserve in Georgia, it was once a rich city with a great future, but after a collapse of the Soviet Union the town has suffered great depression, bad ecology, pollution and poverty. Open pit mined manganese gives the place an extremely poor urban ecology. The manganese dust seems visible in the air sometimes while walking in the streets Health condition of the inhabitants is under a permanent risk due to the polluted air, which is the result of the mining of the manganese.
Locals work in the manganese coal mines. It is the only proper job you can get in this town. Everyday 12-18 hours working shift, 30 km deep in the ground with a monthly salary of approximately $270 .
Most of the miners are originally from the villages that are situated below the tunnels. In order to feed their families they are digging and exploding under their own homes, in the search for Manganese.
Georgian labor code does not oblige inspection of the working conditions of the mineworkers. There has been several cases of death of the miners in the last couple of years, due to bad conditions, and working with equipment that has never been upgraded since installment, dated back in the 50s’.
There have been massive and small protests throughout the years, against harsh conditions, low salaries and mass dismissal of employees.