Legends of Siberian Klondike

Experts say that the gold reserve is still considerable in the Krasnoyarsk Region
Even historians cannot say for sure when gold was first discovered on the territory of the Krasnoyarsk Region. It is known that in the 1830s, commercial gold mining started in the Motyginsky district, near the Uderei River.

But it is known that gold-diggers found gold in that area even earlier. They mined gold for themselves to pay for food and drinks in taverns in the city of Yeniseisk and the settlement of Rybnoye (recently, it has celebrated its 375th birthday). There is no information about the amount of gold mined there during those years. They say that in the 18th century gold-diggers working on the Angara River sent 20 tons of gold to Catherine the Great. It is not ruled out that was actually so. The peculiarity of gold is such that there are lots of legends and fantasies connected with the yellow metal.

Many years ago gold-diggers purposefully spread rumors about their success to have a better reputation in the eyes of their colleagues. Someone even invented a story about a gold nugget weighing a pound. In a word, nobody can name the exact amount of gold mined in the region; the estimations vary from 100 to 1,500 tons. The truth is somewhere in the middle probably.

In the past, the Severo-Yeniseisky and Motyginsky districts were one whole; the area was called by the name of the Uderei River, the Udereisky district. Now, Russia's largest gold-mining association is working on the territory of Severo-Yeniseisky district (North-Yenisei area).

There are several enterprises dealing with gold mining in Motyginsky district. They say the previous year was not a success in gold mining as only about one ton of gold was sold. In the previous years the enterprise was more successful. In this area gold is mined using two main methods: with drags and using hydraulic monitors. Cradles are no longer used for gold mining there.

Gold mining with drags is older; recently the drag fleet celebrated its 100th birthday. The oldest drag used in the Krasnoyarsk Region for gold mining is 70 years old; it is still used for mining there. The method with usage of hydraulic monitors is more modern. The method implies washing out of the rock with strong streams of water. Both methods have one thing in common: to mine one gram of gold hundreds of cubic meters of ground must be worked. It is rather hard work even despite of the fact that modern machines are employed.   

Gold-mining is a round-the-clock operation. It is connected with the fact that summer is very short in Siberia; the gold-fields freeze for winter in October - November. Experts say that the gold reserve is still considerable in the region. For many years gold was explored by geologists until the new economic system in Russia put an end to geological expeditions. No geological expeditions work now in the Motyginsky district. There are no people to look for gold in the Lower Angara area.

People in the Krasnoyarsk Region laid great hopes in a federal program meant for development of the Lower Angara area some time ago adopted by the government. But the program seems to be one of those ineffective ones that the government often adopts. Certainly, the government focuses on the gold-mining problems. First of all, all gold is sold to the government in Russia. Second, the gold-mining tax in Russia is very high - about 50 per cent. It is three times lower in the USA. Although the author of the publication failed to find evidence proving this fact, nobody has denied the information either.

Gold has been mined in the Lower Angara area for about 170 years; the gold-diggers duly supply it to the government. But unfortunately the life of people in Siberia hasn't become better. Gold has been mined in Alaska for about the same period, but living conditions and earnings are radically different here and there. Even conditions under which gold is mined in Alaska greatly differ from conditions of gold-mining in the Krasnoyarsk Region. It is strange especially that Russian and American gold are of the same color and price, especially on the world market.

Vitaly Ivanov
Krasnoyarsky Rabochi

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Author`s name Margarita Kicherova