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ArticleName Mystery of gold placers
DOI 10.17580/gzh.2022.08.14
ArticleAuthor Kuznetsov V. B., Korshunov A. N.

NUST MISIS, Moscow, Russia:

V. B. Kuznetsov, Candidate of Historical Sciences,
A. N. Korshunov, Associate Professor


The authors review the gold mining history in Russia up to the second half of the 19th century when Russia became the global center of gold production. For instance, by the end of the 18th century, participation of Russia in the global gold production was less than 3 %, while in the mid-19th century, Russia produced more than a half of gold in the world. By the beginning of World War I, the gold holdings of Russia were the largest in the world—more than 1400 t. The article describes the goldbearing ore exploration activities starting from the times of Ivan the Great (1465–1505) when the Grand Duke applied to the King of Hungary with a request to send him skilled miners. The study explains while Russia first began mining “difficult” gold ore in the Urals in 1745 after Erofey Markov made a random discovery. Emphasis is laid on the discovery and commercial production of gold-bearing sand or placer gold. The authors emphasize the significance of that historical turning point in the gold industry of Russia and, certainly, the role the discoverer of gold placers L. I. Brusnitsyn. The article tells about the discovery, the exceptional persistence, perseverance and patriotism of that fine workman in mining, as well as the causes of that rather late discovery of gold placers. The might of the discovery made by Lev I. Brusnitsyn consisted in that the cost of placer gold was 4 times less than the cost of primary gold and the development of gold placers appeared to incomparable easier. The article describes how plots were woven around Brusnitsyn, and how his name was forgotten for more than 200 years after his death. Only in 2016 the image of the Master was recovered and a monument was built in his memory. The descendants have finally appraised the outstanding merits and personality of the mining craftsman in the practical solution of the century old problem connected with commercial production of placer gold. The article appreciates the contribution and role of L. I. Brusnitsyn and his disciples in discovery of gold placers in America, Australia, Alaska, etc., which drastically changed the world map of gold production. It is highlighted that for the whole history of gold mining, Russia produced around 18 thousand tons of the precious metal, the three fourth of which was placer gold. This is one of the most important conclusions of the historical research made by the authors of this article.

keywords Gold mining, gold sand, primary gold, Berezovsky Mines, washing machines, underground mines, gold rush, Alexander I, the Urals

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