The Brief History of Chiatura Manganese
Local residents of Chiatura area had been using manganese obtained in nearby mountains as the color dye for their clothes for a long time. Other, more sophisticated uses of this commodity were not known, until manganese mining and production started on an industrial scale in the second half of the 19th century. The origin and further growth of Chiatura as a city is due to the development of manganese mining and production industry in the gorge of Kvirila river.
The city was incorporated in 1879 when manganese ore mining commenced by the initiative of Akaki Tsereteli (famous Georgian writer and public figure). By 1895 a railway line connected Chiatura to Shorapani station. At that time Chiatura mine employed up to 6000 people and supplied up to 50 % of world’s manganese demand.
It is notable that Chiatura’s operation has historically been focused on exports to the US. Between 1925 and 1928 a concession over manganese mines was given to Georgian Manganese JSC (unrelated to the current company) that was managed by William Averell Harriman, an American industrialist. Later in 1941-1946 Harriman served as the ambassador of the United States of America to the USSR.
The Chiatura Mine extracts three main types of manganese ore from the surrounding limestone and conglomerated sandstone – carbonate, oxide and peroxide. Altogether, the manganese ore mining operation is comprised of seven fully-functioning mines and eight open quarries. Once materials are extracted, they are shipped to Zestafoni and other processing facilities for further cultivation. Additionally, Chiatura Mine features numerous onsite metal enrichment factories that it utilizes to produce several grades of manganese concentrates and other ore products.
Chiatura Mine is capable of producing approximately 261,000 metric tons of manganese ore per year, and approximately 400,000 metric tons of manganese concentrate per year. Currently manganese extracted in Chiatura comprises 15% of the net value of Georgian exports.