Russia’s Treasures in the Еаrth

Автор: Maks Ноя 21, 2020

То fortify the defenses of the state, Russia needed firepower, the main provider of which was the cannon. For the mass production of cannon the only basic requirement was metal, bronze being the alloy in use at the time. Similarly, the minting ol coins required constant sources of copper and silver, metals that were hauled into Russia from central Europe. Keenly aware of this need, Grand Prince Ivan III sent a prospecting expedition to the far northern Pechora area in 1491. That year marked the earliest, albeit modest, beginnings of Russia’s now vast mining industry.

Headed by Andrey Petrov, Vasily Botin, Manuil Ularievich the Greek and a number of metallurgists invited specifically for the purpose from Germany, the expedition, following the advice of the local population, discovered copper deposits in the Timan mountain range and on the bank of the River Tsil-ma. Within a year of their discovery they had dug a mine and had begun smelting copper and silver ore.

The pioneering settlement they established nearby in 1499 was Russia’s first town in the Arctic region. Founded by edict of Grand Prince Ivan III, this original mining centre, called Pustozersk, continued to produce ore until the middle of the twentieth century.

Interestingly enough, Pustozersk, in the heart of the Pechora region, also became the country’s first source of petroleum. As early as the 1600s Pechora’s peasants dug wells to collect this exotic substance, which became prized for lubricating cart and wagon wheels and, as later touted in the West, was taken internally as a kind of medical panacea. As the lubricant became more widely used, a merchant called Feodor Pryadunov built the world’s first primitive petroleum refinery in the 1740s.

In 1651 Czar Alexander Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great, ordered an expeditionary force of ore prospectors dispatched to Novaya Zemlya “that ores of silver and other metals be sought.” In the second half of the next century mining pioneers discovered deposits of mica near Lake Baikal, lead at the Zeya and Shilka rivers and minerals for producing dyes near the Vitim River.

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