Russia’s Gold Coast

To get 1 gram of gold dust, you need to wash one ton of rock. Source: Ogoniok/Dmitry Likhanov

To get 1 gram of gold dust, you need to wash one ton of rock. Source: Ogoniok/Dmitry Likhanov

On Russia’s northern Pacific shores, a cooperative of miners washes gold dust from rock – difficult work in a difficult place.

Over the past 20 years, some 50 men from the Shakhter (Miner) cooperative have been mining gold just a few kilometers off the Arctic Ocean, in the very north of Chukotka (9,000 km/5,600 miles east of Moscow). There used to be a lot of gold in this region, but now it is rare and it is mined from alluvial deposits. To get 1 gram of gold dust, you need to wash one ton of rock.

The gold is washed near the village of Leningradsky and in the Skvoznoy area. There is also a base at Cape Schmidt. Ships chartered by the cooperative arrive there, bringing nearly everything the miners need – from Japanese bulldozers to potatoes, explosives and food for aquarium fish. More than half of the gold miners come from Ukraine’s mining regions. The money earned from the sale of Russian gold will be used to educate Ukrainian children, or spent on their weddings or car purchases. These people know what it means to work hard.      

First published in the Ogoniok magazine

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