AAG

Mining

The history of bentonite clay, starts 20 million years ago when underwater  volcano ash sedimentation in the seawater led to formation of the clay which is currently found in large quantities in the Guria region of Georgia. Professor Alexander Fersman, a prominent Soviet Russian geochemist and mineralogist, and Academician of the Soviet Academy of Sciences Alexander_Fersman first discovered the bentonite clay in Georgia in 1913. When the professor began his expedition, Georgia was a part of the Russian Empire. Bentonite clay, discovered by Professor Fersman, was later named Askani bentonite clay after its geographical location. In 1946, Academic Al. Tvaltschrelidze officially opened the first bentonite mine in Mtispiri - a village in Ozurgeti municipality of Georgia. Mr. Tvaltschrelidze also founded Caucasian Institute of Mineral Resources in Tbilisi (referred to as “КИМСИ“ in the Soviet period), which conducted profound research of bentonite clays, including their chemical composition, unique characteristics and methods of application. . The extensive research, which lasted for decades, concluded that Askani bentonite clay group is one of the best of its kind in the world. Askani bentonite clays were quarried in large quantity during the Soviet period, amounting to 120 000 tons annually. Askani bentonites were considered the highest quality product. Bentonite quarry successfully supplied large factories and facilities, including: “AvtoVAZ” (Russia, Tolyatti), Yaroslavl Factory of Mechanical Engineering, Kamaz Truck Manufacturing, Gorky and KrAZ automobile plants, most of the mechanical engineering factories in Belarus, wine production facories, oil well construction and oil and gas processing plants all over the USSR. Later, due to the well-known historical events (collapse of the Soviet Union), clay quarrying was paused for decates. However, despite many problems, new phase of bentonite quarrying commenced in 2011 in Ozurgeti Municipality, which is associated with the opening of Vanisqedi and Uchkhubi quarries for Askani bentonite clay extraction. It has to be stressed that the clay from the above mentioned mines is considered to be of the highest quality, as far as its natural chemical composition excels over the characteristics of its counterparts and similar clay form other mines all over the world. It has to be further added that Uchkhubi and Vanisqedi quarries possess the supply of tens of million tons. Between 2011 and 2015, Askani bentonite clay (newly quarried supplies) was exported to the European market. The role of Poland is of special significance as far as this country was the first one to import the newly mined mineral, which later got the recognition also in other European countries. Since that time, the demand has been rapidly growing, involving post-Soviet and west European countries (Germany, Italy, Scandinavian countries, etc

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