Russian Far East Holds Huge Resource
TREASURES OF THE TWENTY FIRST CENTURY(Source: Catalogue "The State of Russia. Natural Resources.", 2001, ASMO-press)
Forty four states (the CIS countries and the Baltic countries, the USA, Canada, Great Britain, France, Finland, Norway, Australia, Japan and Sweden), and, naturally, all Russian Regions, Russia’s sectoral, higher school and academic scientific organizations, as well as the major mining and oil-and-gas producing companies, all sent their representatives to St. Petersburg. The Congress was also attended by geologists, concerned with practical work “in the field”, who, on rare occasions, have the opportunity of taking part in such representative forums.
In a short survey like this it is next to impossible to dwell upon the many and diverse themes dealt with in the reports and papers. Only the more important and interesting contributions introducing new geological ideas generated over the past decade and outlining the state of affairs in the crucially important domains of geology and the search for mineral resources are to be covered.
Where to Look for Mineral Resources and How?The history of Russia’s Mining & Geological Service, spanning three centuries, includes not only outstanding discoveries but also new cities, roads, civilized remote and inclement lands, a unique geological school and the world’s largest base of mineral resources and raw materials which in large part determines the geopolitical and economic aspect of Russia and the CIS countries and makes an outstanding contribution to the depositary store of fundamental knowledge about the Earth.
Emergence of a new scientific field of inquiry, a comprehensive exploration of the plutonic structure of the continental part of the Earth’s crust by means of super-deep drilling have become a veritable breakthrough in the realm of geology.
Geological sections of the crystalline continental crust of the following structures have already been made on the territories of Russia and of the CIS countries: the Kola section of the Baltic shield to a depth of 12, 262 m; the Krivoi Rog section in the foredeep of the interblock junction of the Ukrainian shield, to a depth of 5,440 m; the Urals section in the geocynclinal foredeep of the Urals-Mongolian mobile zone, to a depth of 5,400 m; the Muruntaus section (Uzbekistan) in the foredeep of the interblock junction, to a depth of 4,300 m; the Saatlinsky section (Azerbaijan) in the inter-mountain depression of the Mediterranean mobile zone, to a depth of 8,267 m.
A comprehensive study of the substances found in and about the boreholes permits determining the geological nature of the plutonic heterogeneous forms and structures and helps prognosticate the hidden deposits of mineral resources.
Towards the close of the 20th century development of applied geochemistry in Russia reached an essentially new level which enabled the country to develop the technology of multi-purpose geochemical mapping, for the first time in world practice. The goal is streamlining of a comprehensive study of various ecological systems with presentation of the results obtained on maps of various scales.
The essential novelty of the technology developed by E.K. Burenkov, A.A. Golovin and E.I. Filatov (Moscow), lies in a simultaneous analyzing of 3-5 natural components of the natural environment (bedrock, soils, bottom deposits, waters) for their comprehensive study as a single ecosystem.
The set of the maps compiled as a result permits making a quantitative estimate of the potential of particular territories for availability of non-ferrous, rare, precious metals, diamonds and oil; substantiating a set of effective methods for planning geological prospecting work; assessing pollution of the natural environment with toxic chemical elements and compounds and determining ecologically unsafe areas; evaluating the quality of agricultural lands; formulating recommendations for efficient nature management with the object of implementing the concept of the country’s steady development.
Today the technologies for multi-purpose geochemical mapping are being put to work in Maritime Territory, Magadan, Buryatia, the Baikal area, the Eastern Trans-Baikal regions, Karelia, the Middle Urals and the Northern Caucasus.
The contemporary ores potential in the regions with moderate and cold-humid climates (taiga, forest-tundra and tundra), that is over the predominant part of Russia’s territory, is on the order of 70 per cent which means the as yet undiscovered fields and deposits; the respective figure for native gold tops 80 per cent. The prospects for placer gold are hard to estimate although over the past few years a growing number of new areas with signs of the presence of the metal have been opened up. Besides, the reserves of the deep-lying and buried gold deposits are far from being exhausted.
The former prospecting technologies were based on a simultaneous employment of numerous geological, geophysical and geochemical methods. It was held that in that case “prospecting output” would be more reliable. The approach led to a significant increase in production costs and duration of work and rather low geological efficiency.
V.A. Zagoskin, a Moscow scientist, puts forward a set of new prospecting technologies which permit successfully solving any prospecting problems under various natural-landscape and geological conditions. The plan for future work is drawn up according to the following composite principle: the most productive prospecting method is determined on the map of the landscape-search zoning of a particular studied territory for the areas of every category. And areas with various obstacles, as well as bogs, peat-bogs, rock streams, etc., can thus be explored.
The tests of the new technologies were conducted in eight Russian Regions with widely different geological, natural-landscape conditions, namely in the Magadan, Irkutsk and Amur Regions, in the Norilsk area, Yakutia, over the Yenisei ridge, and in Karelia, as well as in Alaska. That has eventuated in the discovery of 20-odd commercial gold fields; dozens of sections (anomalies) likely to contain ores have been identified; work there has not been completed. The methods on the strength of which novel prospecting technologies are being developed are effective, reliable and cost-saving; but they do not require special field equipment, can be used in any natural-landscape conditions and permit maximum localization of the sought objects (deposits, fields, occurrences) for their further evaluation according to the mining-drilling parameters.
Employment of global satellite systems will permit significantly changing the very technology of geodetic work. Now it can be conducted in any season, by day and night, and under any weather conditions. Mutual visibility between observation posts is not obligatory.
Technologies and facilities have been developed for determining coordinates under a differential regime by means of low-cost coded satellite devices with an error of 2 metres in a wooded locality. A technology involving the use of phase satellite-borne devices in semi-open terrain has been offered (error in determining coordinates in open terrain does not exceed 0.1 metres and in a forest-covered area — 0.5 metres).
A.A. Buinov, a Moscow scientist, has put forward a new concept for searching out and evaluating the gold-bearing potential of territories with the use of standard quantitative models used in evaluating ore provinces and “clusters”. He is the first scientist in the world to have developed quantitative geological mathematical-statistics methods for searching out ore-deposit systems. The analysis of the said methods has shown that the systems of deposits and metaliferous objects possess something that can be called high self-organization, and their structure obeys definite mathematical laws. Using the models developed by scientists and on the strength of the available materials it is possible to make an evaluation of the resources of territories quickly, reliably and efficiently. The search for new objects should be conducted only after a preliminary estimation of the resources, that is knowing in advance what to look for, in what amounts, sizes and quantities and envisioning their practical value. The strategy of prospecting and exploration also needs to be changed: attention should be focussed upon the largest commercial ore formations and zones within a particular province as well as upon “leader-objects” of a zone accounting for roughly three quarters of its resources with a high degree of mineralization and a limited area of their occurrence. In the event of discovery of three more large ore bodies within a province, the degree of utilization of its resources increases to 90 per cent. Pursuit of that strategy should lead to a significant diminution in the number of the explored territories and a substantial enhancement of effectiveness of prospecting and exploration work.
MainstayThe state of the country’s base of mineral resources and raw materials is a crucially important geopolitical factor exerting a strong impact on its national and economic security. The base’s development rates should be such as to meet the country’s current and long-term requirements and also its export requirements.
The value of the raw materials annually extracted from Russia’s depths reaches 100 billion dollars in world market prices. Gas, oil, coal and uranium account for 80 per cent of the amount. Meanwhile, oil output diminished to 300 million tons per annum, i.e. almost by half, gas output — to 570-600 billion cu.m. (depending on demand).
Yet, even so, today Russia leads the world in the combined output of oil and gas. It should be noted, however, that over the past 20 years the hydrocarbons reserves have steadily been growing while their structure has been deteriorating because of intensive development and exploitation of the rich fields and deposits numbering 1,262. Their initial reserves have been depleted by 50 per cent on average and the largest fields such as Samotlor, Fyodorovskoye, Mamontovskoye, Romashkinskoye, Arlanskoye, which for a long time accounted for the bulk of the output of hydrocarbons in the country have now entered the concluding phase of exploitation. Exhaustion of oil reserves is being accompanied by the waterlogging of fields which has topped fifty per cent. What are the prospects in this connection?
Looking AheadThe Khanty-Mansi and the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Areas, as well as the Tomsk Region, will remain the country’s principal oil-producing regions. Given a favourable tax regime oil output can be brought to 261-272 million tons a year.
In the past few decades of the 20th century new fields were discovered in Western Siberia, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and on the Sakhalin Island shelf. Those are the oldest fields on the planet! Development of the oil and gas industries in those parts will permit bringing oil output to 50-60 million tons by the year 2030 and beginning the “invasion” of the Asian-Pacific energy market. Yet, in order to implement that programme it will be necessary to build a new system of pipeline transport in Russia’s eastern regions. The state must act as guarantor of the process and a participant in it.
An increase in gas output in Western Siberia is, above all, linked to bringing into exploitation the fields situated on the Yamal Peninsula. Twenty five fields with the combined reserves of 10.2 trillion cu.m. of gas have already been explored there including four, namely Bovanenkovskoye, Kharasaveiskoye, Kruzenshternovskoye and Novoportovskoye which have been prepared for being exploited commercially.
A steady development of the Russian power industry is only possible with a stable increase in oil and gas reserves. But ever since 1994, in conditions of a falling production, Russia extracts significantly more oil and gas than it discovers new fields. The forecast for the 2001-2005 period shows that in those years oil output will total 1,570 million tons, and gas output — 3,160 billion cu.m. Even simple reproduction of those reserves will annually require drilling of no fewer than two million metres of deep holes which is 1.5-2 times the number of the boreholes drilled in 1998-1999. Considering the complex structure of the newly discovered fields, the scale of geophysical work should outpace that of deep drilling.
Special attention should be devoted to creation of most favourable conditions for geological exploration work in Western Siberia which, in the first half of the 21st century, will provide the bulk of all oil and gas produced in the country, in Eastern Siberia, considering the crucial importance of that region in enabling Russia to emerge onto the Asian-Pacific energy market and also on the shelves of the Barents, Kara and Okhotsk Seas.
And what about coal which in the space of the 20th century remained one of Russia’s leading energy carriers?
Within the structure of consumption of fuel and energy raw materials in the 1950s its proportion exceeded 60 per cent of the total but had fallen to 19 per cent by the year 1998. But coal occurs widely everywhere (22 coal basins and 115 separate fields); its reserves are large (4,251.2 billion tons including the balance reserves of 279.2 billion tons); they exceed oil reserves roughly 20-25 times and those of gas — 10-17 times.
Half the Russian coal fields are situated in Eastern Siberia, about a third in the Russian Far East and in Western Siberia. The European part of Russia and the Urals area account for but 5 and 0.3 per cent, respectively.
Today’s coal output (250 million tons) does not correspond to the potential of the existing raw materials base. Hardly is it worthwhile to try to prove that the growth of coal production and consumption should be suitably correlated with the same indices of other energy carriers with due account being taken of the reserves of each one of them, their distribution over the country’s territory and production and transportation costs which will guarantee the country’s energy independence and export capabilities.
New Information About the Continental ShelfRussia has the world’s largest continental shelf. Its area is about 6 million sq.km, that is 20 per cent of the entire area of the World Ocean continental shelf. It was only at the close of the 20th century that its development began in real earnest. Thus there emerged a new region for production of mineral resources.
The oil specialists and workers led the way.
Geophysical exploration of the Arctic shelf made it possible to gain an idea about the tectonics and structure of sedimentary rocks, their oil and gas contents and the outlook for discovering new fields. And although the confirmed oil and gas offshore reserves make up a mere 2 per cent of the potential total and exploration drilling is being done over but one per cent of the combined promising areas so far eight oil-and-gas bearing basins have been discovered on the Arctic continental shelf, namely: the southern and northern in the Barents Sea, the northern and southern in the Kara Sea, the Laptev Sea basin, the basin in the East-Siberian Sea and the North and South Chukotka basins. Their combined recoverable hydrocarbon reserves exceed 100 billion conventional tons.
The oil and gas fields with truly unique reserves are in Western Arctic regions, on the shelves of the Barents, Pechora and Kara Seas. Twelve such fields have been discovered within the Russian borders, including: Shtokman (3.2 trillion cu.m.), in the Barents Sea, Rusanov (4.5 trillion cu.m.) and Leningrad (4.5 trillion cu.m.), in the Kara Sea. It is planned to conduct exploration over the Barents Sea anticline, on the Ledovy, Ludlov, Lunin elevations and the Admiralty swell.
Two fields have been prepared for development: the Shtokman gas field and the Prirazlomnoye oil field. The latter will start production in 2003, after completion of construction of a marine ice-resistant permanent platform and establishment of a tanker system for oil shipping. By the year 2006 the field will have been producing at the rate of 6-7 million tons per annum and exploration of the newly discovered oil fields of Varandei-more, Medynskoye-more, and the Northern and Southern Dolginskoye fields will have been completed nearby. Annual oil output in the area is planned to be brought to 20 million tons by the 2010-2015 period.
It is planned to start exploitation of the Shtokman field in the Barents Sea in the year 2010 and bring production to 90 billion cu.m. of gas, eventually.
Tectonic swells and over 60 large elevations have been discovered in the South Kara oil & gas basin which very nearly guarantees the existence of several gas fields there with the combined reserves of about 2-4 trillion cu.m. The shelves of the Laptev, East-Siberian and the Chuckchee Seas remain unexplored. It is assumed that the oil & gas bearing basins discovered there as the result of geophysical work, made up of deposits and sediments of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, contain significant reserves of hydrocarbons. What with the difficult ice-climatic conditions, the shelf of the Eastern Arctic regions will be more intensively explored after the year 2010.
Support for the search for new oil and gas fields and expansion of the search, as well as preparation of a new raw materials base for oil and gas production in the Arctic shelf should become a crucial element of the state’s policy in the 21st century.
Economic importance of the Arctic Seas is due not only to the oil and gas resources found there. Geological exploration data on Novaya Zemlya permit optimistically evaluating the outlook for that region’s mineral resources and raw-materials potential. Manganese, complex ores and gold have been discovered there.
In the western part of the Gulf of Tatary a team of scientists of the Institute of Geology of the Siberian Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences has discovered a large province of titanomagnetite deposits (pockets of 2-6 per cent) which formed as the result of washout of volcanic rocks and extends along the entire coast of the Gulf of Tatary for 700 km, from the Amur mouth to the peak of Tumanny in the south and is intensively erroded in the littoral zone. Fifty million tons of titanomagnetite are released in the process of disintegration of one cubic metre of such rocks. According to geological data, about 50 cubic metres of volcanic rocks have disintegrated on the western coast of the Gulf of Tatary over the past eight thousand years as the result of which no fewer than 2.6 billion tons of titanomagnetite filled the littoral zone. According to indirect estimates, the total inferred reserves of titanomagnetite concentrate are about 0.5 billion tons.
The concentrate consists of complex ores containing iron, vanadium, and titanium. Its content in the deposit sands is 5-20 per cent. Estimates indicate that the “Amurstal” steel plant can profitably treat 1.9 million tons of concentrate which will permit producing 11 thousand tons of ferrovanadium, one million tons of alloy steel and 250 thousand tons of titanium slag. According to techno-economic evaluations, such reworking will require 28 million dollars in capital investment and 14 million dollars in production costs; but final output will be valued at 293 million dollars.
Besides, it is possible to export titanomagnetite concentrate to Japan which today imports the raw material from New Zealand. Such a variant will not require substantial investments.
Siberian geologists have thoroughly studied the sources of the placer deposits located along the coast of the southern part of the Gulf of Tatary, from the cape of Tumanny to that of Syurkum, spanning a distance of 300 km. Reserves of titanomagnetite concentrate estimated at about 40 million tons have been found at depths of up to 20 metres in five underwater deposits. Several more promising sections have been found. Deposits are likely to be found at depths below 20 m too. The content of concentrate in sand deposits is 5-20 per cent. Speaking about the abundant shelf resources one should point out that a few months ago the Trans-Arctica-2000 national expedition successfully accomplished its work of determining the external borders of the shelf of the Russian Federation in the Arctic Ocean. Geological data obtained in the course of research and exploration work now enable Russia to lay claim to the oceanic expanses far outside its 200-mile long border zone.
Some people might see no problem here. But this is not really so. Thus, Norway, our neighbour, extracts 140 million tons of oil per annum in the Northern Sea alone and is not going to stop at what it has achieved and actively claims the high-latitude Arctic regions. To recall. Ten years ago the USA and Russia signed a notorious treaty, on delimitation of the economic zone and the continental shelf of the Arctic and Pacific Oceans, as well as of the Chuckchee and Bering Seas. The consequences of that ill-considered decision are already acutely felt.
If a state furnishes geological evidence that the sea bed of a territory it lays claim to has continental origins its borders can be extended outside the 200-mile zone. The Trans-Arctica-2000 expedition gathered this kind of geological-geophysical evidence. Now Russia is to apply to the UN Commission and secure its sovereign rights to more territory of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean with an area of about 1.2 million sq.km.
Gold and PlatinumAmidst the strategic mineral resources, together with energy carriers, and with other precious metals and diamonds, gold is a highly liquid “foreign-currency” mineral resource, actually the leader. For a long time Russia used to be the leading gold-mining country and it yielded up its leadership only after the discovery of the unique gold-bearing region of South Africa. During the 250 years since the start of organized gold production in the country it received one tenth of all “public” gold. Throughout the 20th century the Russian base of mineral resources and raw materials developed very effectively retaining the long-established structure of gold production: placer gold accounted for 65 per cent of all gold mined in the country and native gold — for 35 per cent. Throughout the history of gold mining placers yielded 4.5 times more gold than was extracted from auriferous ore deposits. This tendency will hardly change in the near future. The more so as the prospects are highly favourable here. Investigations conducted by a group of geologists from the TsNIGRI Research Institute have permitted discovering the Middle-Russian gold-bearing province and estimating the inferred reserves of placer gold there.
Corresponding maps were compiled. They show, for the first time, the areas of the placer deposits and, within their limits, industrially promising areas whose reserves have been estimated. Associated gold in deposits of building raw materials is counted in hundreds of tons (an average of 30-50 mg per cubic metre). Potential reserves found in alluvial placers run into scores of tons (an average of 150-200 mg per cubic metre). Assessments of the metals-bearing potential of the territory of Russia have shown possibilities for discovery of new (including untraditional) deposits of placer gold both in the oil and new gold-mining regions.
In the view of the scientists, in the 21st century development of “accidental” deposits of fine and dispersed gold which contain quite sizable and as yet practically “uncalled for” resources will become especially topical.
In the first half of the 21st century placers and gold-bearing weathering crusts (especially argillaceous rich and lean ores of various geological-industrial types) in which fine and dispersed gold (and its content in ores is fairly high) predominates will be of the utmost importance for augmenting the country’s gold reserves.
Placers occur in river valleys and deltas, under the sea bed and in coastal zones.
The prospects opening up in the north of Russia are highly promising. Thus, in the north-western part of the Archean Kolmozero-Voronin zone (Murmansk Region) the Oleninskoye deposit and Nyalm deposits 1 and 2), manifestations of ores (over 300) and those of gold (60) (a combined area of 23.6 sq.km.) have been found in the past few years. Besides, gold is an important associated component of the ores of the Pellapakhk porphyritic copper-molybdenum deposits. Thus, one can speak about a kind of gold-bearing zone stretching for 18 km, from Mount Pellapakhk to Mount Nyalmchechuaiv.
A unique gold-quartz deposit called Maiskoye, linked to the manifestation of copper-nickel mineralization, has been discovered in Northern Karelia. Many explorers believe this region to be highly promising. It must be very rich in complex-ore deposits and manifestations with gold-sulphide mineralization. The Magadan Region is known for deposits of precious metals. Numerous gold-bearing alluvial placers discovered in the basin of the Kolyma river in the 1930s, together with the ore deposits of Natalkinskoye, Karamken, Dukat and Kubaka secured in the region production of almost 2.7 thousand tons of gold (today the output is 29-30 tons per annum) and over 2 thousand tons of silver.
Just as in many gold-bearing provinces worldwide, various gold-quartz deposits embedded in deep-lying rocks predominate in the region: about 44 per cent of the reserves and 65-70 per cent of the resources. Intensification of gold production in those parts (relatively lean ores, with a gold content of 2.5-5.0 grams to a ton) required introduction of novel progressive technologies for ore mining and working.
The deposits of gold-and-silver bearing ores are noted for high quality and are readily producible which ensures high efficiency of their commercialization and their high investment appeal (the Kubak mine and a few more enterprises).
The main efforts of the Regional Geological Service should be concentrated in the basin of the Omolon river with the object of further tapping the reserves of the Kubak deposit and in the basin of the Kolyma river which exhibits the signs of having bedrock gold deposits capable of replacing the all-but depleted placer deposits.
The Far Eastern economic region has a unique geological structure. It has a large number of rich deposits which comprise seven ore provinces.
The Aldano-Stanovaya province (600 thousand sq.km, gold, iron, many metals) is the principal raw materials base for iron, diamonds, gold (about 2,250 tons have been produced), titanium, apatites, uranium, phlogopite, rare and rare-earth metals, rock crystal and platinum.
The Eastern borderland of the East-Trans-Baikal province is rich in gold, molybdenum, tungsten and fluorite.
The Amur province (gold, tin, tungsten, complex ores) is a raw materials base for gold (1,600 tons have been produced), tin, tungsten, diverse other metals, fluorine, boron and uranium.
The Verkhoyank-Chukotka province is a raw materials base for gold (over 4,200 tons have been produced), tin, tungsten, silver, antimony, diverse other metals, and mercury.
The Okhotsk-Chukotka province is a raw materials base for silver (over 2,000 tons have been produced), gold (over 100 tons of gold have been produced), copper, molybdenum, various other metals.
Six deposits and ore manifestations have been estimated within the Sakhalin province. The latter contain mercury, gold, talc, phosphorites, manganese, germanium, chromium, copper and asbestos. A large gold deposit has been found in its southward extension (towards Hokkaido island).
The Kuril-Kamchatka-Koryak province is held to contain platinum, sulphur, gold and silver (platinum is found in placers). The registered explored reservers of the Aginsk, Ametist, Asachinsk and Rodnikov deposits include gold (over 150 tons), silver, about 600 tons. Some twenty further promising manifestations with a combined potential of over one thousand tons of gold (often in free form with segregations of 1-50 mm). Yet, Koryakia is regarded rather as a raw material base for platinum (second place in Russia).
The output of the platinum group metals, extracted from placers, made up over the years, a mere one per cent of total output. Today it has increased to 6 per cent due to development of the deposits in Eastern Siberia and Koryakia. There are prerequisites for a further buildup of the reserves in placers. Medium-sized and large placer deposits of platinum located within the Vatyn-Vyvensky platinum belt extending for 700 km from the Palana river in the south-west to the Bay of Anastasiya in the east, on the territory of the Koryak Autonomous Area, have been discovered, explored and brought into exploitation. About 50 zonal mountain masses found there can be separated into four platiniferous nodes, namely: Lesnovsky, Seinav-Galmoenansky, Verkhne-Vyvensky and Epilchiksky.
Six placer deposits with a platinum content of 1-20 grams to a cubic metre have been found and explored.
The Galmoenansky node stretching meridianally for 14 km and 2.5-5 km wide, is the most promising of them all, likely to contain a bedrock platinum mineralization.
Placer platinum within the Epilchiksky node is confined to the stretches of preglacial and inter-glacial alluvial valleys. Three manifestations of placer platinum have been found on its territory. The largest of them all, in the valley of the Matysken river, stretches for ten km and contains 2-3 grams to a cubic metre in some sections.
The platinum content of the placers of the Lesnovsky and the Verkhne-Vyvensky nodes has been assessed only according to the results of early exploration work.
The results of exploration permit speaking about one more promising territory, the Sayan nickel-platiniferous province. An unusually high sulphide-nickel and platinoid mineralization has been registered in the Kansk and Biryusa greenstone belts. The foremost ore-bearing area is the Kansk block with the ore node of the same name where exploration of the Kingashsky sulphide copper-nickel and platinum deposit is going on and where promising ore manifestations have been discovered.
DiamondsAll deposits with the registered reserves of diamonds are located in the three provinces: in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) including Malo-Botuobinsky, Daldyno-Alakitsky, Sredne-Markhinsky, Anabarsky, Prilensky and Muno-Tyungsky diamond-bearing regions; the Perm Region (Urals) including the Vyshersky district; the Arkhangelsk Region including the Primorsky district. Almost all balance reserves (81.6 per cent) and diamond production (99.8 per cent) are located in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). Upon completion of exploration of the kimberlite diamond pipes in Yakutia (Botuobinskaya — in 1994, Nyurbinskaya — 1995, a third diamond body was discovered close to the said pipes in February, 1999) and in the Arkhangelsk Region (the diamond pipe named after V. Grib in 1996), the balance diamond reserves can be increased by 25-30 per cent. All other explored deposits on the territory of Yakutia have been transferred to the State Reserve (5 bedrock and 11 placer deposits).
This does not mean that all exploration work is being wound up. Simply a definite order of priorities is being introduced for opening up the territories for further concentration of geological exploration efforts. First-priority areas are located in Yakutia and the Arkhangelsk Region. Those of “second priority” are in the south of Siberia and the North-Western Region of the European part of Russia. Still in the 1930s geologists predicted the presence of diamonds in the Siberian platform which is similar to the South African platform. This has been confirmed by the placer deposits of gem diamonds with an average weight of 50.9 mm found in the basin of the Podkamennaya Tunguska river. But in 1956, after discovery of kimberlite diamond pipes in Western Yakutia, work was stopped in the Tunguska river area. It was resumed only in the mid-eighties and produced encouraging results. The diamond-bearing band or stretch in the south-western part of the Siberian platform is traced for a distance of 500 km and forms the Kovino-Kordinskaya kimberlite-controlling zone, in the northern part of which there lies the Tychansky diamond-bearing region and in the southern — the Muro-Kovinsky region. The inferred reserves there are comparable with the diamond reserves of Western Yakutia.
Until recently no one believed in diamond deposits in the north-west of the European part of the country. Yet, Russian and foreign geologists insisted on that and claimed that the eastern part of the Baltic shield is a diamond-bearing province. It has all prerequisites for holding industrial diamonds on a commercial scale. Yet, the region has been studied insufficiently which makes specialists refer it to territories of “second priority”. The diamond-bearing potential of the European part of Russia and the Russian Far East has been studied even less, and so the said regions are referred to as “third priority” territories.
A Summing-upThe results achieved by the Geological Exploration and Mining Service in Russia so far are as follows:
Note that under market conditions capitalization of the explored reserves is preferrable which permits eliminating the difference in the value of the stocks of Russian companies vis-a-vis foreign companies. The controlling block of stock of the economic entities of strategic and vital economic importance to the country must unquestionably be owned by the state.
Besides, it is all-important to bear in mind ecological safety
exploring and utilizing inside-earth resources which are a vital
of man’s environment.