Georgia had significant mineral deposits, but the future of the industry depended on a more secure climate for investment, through greater political and economic stability. Manganese was the country's foremost mineral commodity in the Soviet era, producing 5 million tons in the mid-1980s; production has since fallen precipitously, reaching 59,100 tons in 2000. Manganese came from the Chiat'ura basin; reserves of high-grade ore were almost depleted.
The Madneuli region was a major site of barite, copper, lead-zinc, gold, and silver mining. Lead and zinc were mined at the Kvaisi deposit, and arsenic was mined from the Lukhumi and Tsansa deposits. In 1995, the Georgian State Geology Committee, Gruzgeologiya, stated that Georgia had gold reserves of 250 tons and silver reserves of 1,500 tons, with another 250 tons of prospective gold reserves.
In 1996, Georgia permitted foreign firms to manage metallurgical enterprises. The Zestafoni ferroalloy plant was signed over to the Russian-Georgian Bank for Reconstruction and Development in conjunction with a US partner, North Atlantic Research, to be managed for a period of ten years.
Mine output of copper was 8,000 tons in 2000; of gold, 2,924 kg, up from 700 in 1998; and of silver, 33,884 kg. Also produced were mine lead, iron ore, barite, bentonite, decorative stones, diatomite, high-quality quartz sand, sand and gravel, semiprecious stones, talc, and zeolites.