Russia recently established itself as the 4th largest gold producing nation in the world, behind China, Australia, and the United States. With over 11% of the earth’s total land mass, Russia is also estimated to have the 3rd largest gold reserves in the world, with much of that gold yet to be recovered. An archaic regulatory process has limited development of many lode resources throughout the country by various mining companies. Despite these setbacks, Russia is considered to have some of the best potential for future development for gold mining in the coming decades.
The first discovery of gold in Russia dates back to 1745, when a peasant found flakes of gold
on the eastern flanks of the Ural Mountains. This was preceded by several discoveries several decades earlier, which attracted limited attention to areas within the country. With the initial discovery of gold in western Russia, it took several years to attract any significant attention for mineral exploration. With the extreme remoteness of the locations, along with the fact that mineral resources within Russia were deemed property of the state, it wasn’t until 1748 when mining finally began in the area.
For several decades following the initial gold discovery, additional deposits were found throughout the Ural Mountains, first along the eastern flanks and later along the western flanks. With all the new gold deposits being found, the country found itself limited in its ability to exploit these discoveries. Russia finally decided to open up mineral exploration to private enterprises.
The earliest sources of gold that were mined within Russia were all hard rock deposits which were mined underground. Gold was known to exist in many of the rivers in the Ural Mountains but local peasants had limited knowledge on how to capture and retain it. As the 19th century progressed, additional placer and lode discoveries throughout the country were found. Harsh weather conditions limited output in many areas, but large amounts of gold were produced nonetheless.
In more recent years, political turmoil has affected the mining industry to a significant degree. The effects of the fall of the Soviet Union and the process for private mining companies to get approval have certainly affected overall gold output within the country. Russia holds some of the largest gold reserves in the world, yet has a current production ranking #4 in the world. In contrast, China is estimated to have much less of the world’s gold reserves in comparison, yet current production is nearly double that of Russia.
Currently, Russia is seeing ever increasing investment by foreign companies in gold mining endeavors. Several companies including Kinross Gold Corp., Bema Gold Corp., Highland Gold Mining Ltd., and High River Gold Mines have increased their investments into mining operations throughout the country, and it is likely that gold production will increase over the coming years as these various mining projects move forward with their operations.Finding Valuable Gold Ore