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Cable cars in the west Georgian mining town of Chiatura will finally be refurbished, for the first time since their construction during soviet times. The government of France is supporting the Georgian government to implement the work.
The Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure announced on 19 January that work would initially be carried out on the central station, which ferries passengers in three directions, 862 meters to the Sanatorium, 1,081 meters to Naguti Station, and 845 meters to Lezhubani. Plans are already being drawn up for a fourth route to Mukhadze (640 meters).
Chiatura is an industrial town in Imereti Region where manganese ore is extracted. A significant portion of the local population is employed in the town’s mining industry either directly in the mines or in an ore washing plant and distribution centre.
The town is located in a valley, with the aerial ropeways acting as important means of transportation. They are used both by the general public, and plant and mine employees to travel to and from work. Cables are also used to carry ore along the valley.
According to the ministry, the total cost of the project is about ₾40 million ($15 million), and it is being co-funded by the Georgian and French governments.
Manganese extraction began in Chiatura in the late 19th century, and at it’s height, the mining town accounted for 40% of world manganese production, and 75% of Georgia’s economy. The cable cars were constructed and launched in in 1954; since then, they have not received any refurbishment. Transportation on the cars was suspended in 2016 because of their high risk of failure. Rehabilitation works are planned to be finished by Autumn of 2017.