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ArticleName Gold placer mining crews in Russia. Part I: Workers artels
DOI 10.17580/gzh.2023.02.04
ArticleAuthor Boyarko G. Yu.

Tomsk Polytechnic University, Tomsk, Russia:

G. Yu. Boyarko, Professor, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Candidate of Geological and Mineralogical Sciences,


This article describes origination and growth of various-type gold mining crews in Russia. Mining artels represent the cooperatives of workers which personally participate in gold mining in the framework of self-management, self-sufficiency, collective bargaining and final remuneration. Being just subcontractors in gold search and mining, the artels of free miners became the main labor sources in the private gold production business in pre-revolutionary Russia and in the nationalized gold mining industry in the USSR. The contribution of the gold mining crews to the national gold production reached its maximum of 65 % in 1936. The advantages of the artels are the dominating economic incentive and the self-interest of free miners in their work and results. Arisen from the primitive gangs of hawks and gold diggers, the artels became the rivals to the governmental gold mines which were to ensure the planned gold production rather than to maximize the mining profitability. Despite the administrative pressure, the artels of free gold miners developed their capacities and capabilities, which gave birth to large industrial artel groups. The market economy of the 1990s nulled the advantages of free mining in Russia, and most artels changed to the other patterns of ownership and management. The team-wise gold mining practice existed in the world in the Gold Rush times in Brazil, Australia, California and in Klondike. At present, the small-scale mineral mining and self-organization of small artels exists in the developing countries in the Third World with the infirm legislation.

keywords Russian gold mining industry, free miners crews, artels, advantages, management flexibility

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