Russia’s Gold Coast

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 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.
These rigs were once used to monitor military supply depots on Cape Schmidt. The military left, but the rigs remained. 
Farsh (a nickname translated as “minced meat”) is the last to remain in the once-densely populated village of Leningradsky.  He lives with his dogs and doesn’t even dream of returning to the mainland. 
More than half of the gold miners come from Ukraine’s mining regions. These people know what it means to work hard.
The money earned from the sale of Russian gold will be used to educate Ukrainian children, or spent on their weddings or car purchases.     
In a few minutes, these morose-looking men will set off to mine gold. Their shift lasts six months, followed by six months at home and then back to Chukotka. Many have lived this way for decades. 
The Skvoznoy area. Alluvial gold settles in mats like these. This is not work for the weak: It is performed all day in the wind and in icy water. 
This bar of gold is worth $240,000.
Processing gold concentrate is labor-intensive work. Some things can be done with machines, but a lot has to be done manually, especially in the final stage.
Large nuggets are rare here – gold is found mainly in dust form, but even that is becoming rare.
Gold smelting is a hazardous industry. The smell of metal mixed with borax is vile. Miners have been smelting for many years.
The airfield at Cape Schmidt. The ghosts of northern aviation, they are now guarded by one security guard and a few stray dogs.
The Ural is a tundra track used to transport people, food products and gold.
There used to be a seaport here, but today cranes and diesel barrels rust on the Arctic coast. Polar bears visit more often than people do. 
There used to be a seaport here, but today cranes and diesel barrels rust on the Arctic coast. Polar bears visit more often than people do. 
A plaster statue of Lenin sadly surveys Chukotka.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

We've got more than 1,5 million followers on Facebook. Join them!

This website uses cookies. Click here to find out more.

Accept cookies