How to mine gold in the XXI century

If you think that mining was invented by figures in the field of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, you are deeply mistaken. People were engaged in mining long before the crypt. They mined what all commodity-money relations on our planet have been built on for hundreds of years — gold.

What do you even know about gold mining? Most likely, you will immediately imagine bearded prospectors on a stream far away in the taiga, with iron trays in their hands washing gold sand, or a dredge with a sieve sifting tons of water in search of nuggets. Everything is as shown in westerns and films about the gold rush in America or Australia. But in the XXI century it happens a little differently. And to find out exactly how, we went to the Far East, where the bulk of precious metals mining in Russia is concentrated.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

Of course, today there is also the extraction of loose gold, and the search for nuggets, but on an industrial scale, the most noble of metals is mined in a completely different way — in quarries and mines. Moreover, they are not mined from gold veins, as it may seem to an ignorant person, but literally from a stone, the most ordinary at first glance stone. Greetings to medieval alchemists! Their dream came true in the XX-XXI centuries.

This does not mean that you can just come to any place, take a shovel with a pickaxe, load stones into a cart and go to turn them into 999 gold. In fact, this is a rather complex and time-consuming process, in which a whole army of specialists is engaged: geologists find gold-bearing ores and horizons (as a rule, they are located in undeveloped and hard-to-reach places), engineers develop a quarry or mine project, then you need to build a road to the future deposit, drive a huge amount of necessary machinery and equipment, build a shift camp or even a small town, to provide electricity and water supply, the life of several hundred, or even thousands of workers, and only then proceed to the development of the deposit and the extraction of gold.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

We are approaching a bridge over one of the tributaries of the Amur. The driver stops the car, takes an orange flashing light on a magnet from the trunk and fixes it on the roof of our Toyota Prado. After that, he walks away for a few minutes to talk on his mobile phone. There, behind the bridge, on the other side of the river, there is no connection anymore, and it will not be for several hundred kilometers — all the way to the shift settlement of Albazino. Contacting the village from this point is a mandatory rule: if something happens on the way and the car does not arrive after an approximate estimated time, help can only come from there.

From Amursk — more than 400 kilometers along a shaking winter road, along which only logging trucks, trucks with gold ore concentrate crawling from the deposit, and curious foxes with hares move.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

We get to Albazino in the late afternoon without any adventures. This is a unique, rich gold deposit, known since 1912. More than 100 years ago, gold placers were discovered in the Bolshoy Kuyan Stream and its tributary, the Ivanovsky Key. In 1954, the Herpuchin mining Department confirmed the presence of gold in these places, and in 1989, Anatoly Kurochkin, senior geologist of the Nizhneamurskaya geological exploration expedition, discovered a deposit here during prospecting and evaluation work. He named one of the new ore-bearing zones Anfisa in honor of his youngest daughter. Now this name is the largest quarry from which gold-bearing ore is extracted. In addition to Anfisa, there are also Olga, Nadezhda and Ekaterina mines. More recently, another ore zone was found and named it Farida — in honor of a hospitable employee of the personnel department of the Varvarinsky deposit in Kazakhstan.

Since 2011, Albazino has been developing Polymetal, one of the largest gold mining companies in Russia.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

Looking at the 100-ton dump trucks scurrying along the horizons of Anfisa, which look like tiny ants on the scale of a quarry, you involuntarily wonder: how much gold was extracted from such a giant pit? That's millions and millions of tons of ore!

It is important to understand here that not everything in the quarry contains gold. Not even so: gold is contained only in certain layers and horizons in various parts of the quarry. These sites need, firstly, to be found, secondly, to get to them and, thirdly, to extract gold-rich ore. It is she who will be taken to the processing plant, and everything else is the so—called sterile rock that goes into the dump.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

Sometimes, in order to get to the gold-bearing horizon, dozens of dump trucks have to take out the waste rock for several days. In a simplified form, the development of a quarry is to constantly export waste rock (it is called overburden) in search of gold—bearing ore. Blow up, loosen, take out. Blow it up again and take it out again. All this happens under the constant supervision of geologists, who daily take hundreds of soil samples from the developed sites and send them online to a laboratory a few kilometers from the quarry. In the laboratory, rock is crushed 24 hours a day and conjured over it to melt what is in it. According to these hundreds of samples, specialists update the interactive map of the quarry daily in order to understand where they got to the right site, and where they need to continue to export the waste rock.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

Against the background of millions of tons of dump, gold-bearing horizons look like a drop in the sea. The drop becomes even smaller if you think about the figures of the gold content in the "rich" ore. The indicator of 7 grams per ton is considered very good. If there is more gold, it is generally luck. 7 grams per ton! And now imagine how much money you have to move to get to this ton with 7 grams of gold, and your eyes are generally rounded. What a gigantic effort for the sake of the yellow metal! That's really a precious metal.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

How to mine gold in the XXI century

To understand the full scale of gold mining, here are some figures for you: at the Mining and Processing Plant, which we visited, we extracted more than 40 tons of gold in a flotation concentrate. And this means that 6 million tons of useful ore were lifted from the quarry to the surface. That's 60 thousand dump trucks! If they are lined up one after another, the column will stretch for almost 700 kilometers. God only knows how much sterile ore was extracted for the extraction of gold-bearing ore.

How to mine gold in the XXI century

But the most interesting thing in this whole story is that none of the people working here sees the gold itself. After all, gold raw materials look like mountains of the most ordinary stone, visually no different from ordinary crushed stone. Then it will be sent to an enrichment plant, where gold ore concentrate will be produced. Then they will be taken to the hydrometallurgical plant. Now they are getting ingots on it. Only these are not the gold bars as we understand them, but the dore alloy bars are an intermediate product. They will be sent to the refining plant, and only there will the gold acquire its final form of gold bars of 999.9 samples. But we will tell about all this long way in the following materials.

Keywords: Far East | Gold | Gold mining | Deposit | Partner post | Ore

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