Where did Russian malachite go, and why it is now necessary to buy it in Africa

Where did Russian malachite go, and why it is now necessary to buy it in Africa
Where did Russian malachite go, and why it is now necessary to buy it in Africa
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Today, one of the leading leaders in the extraction and export of malachite is the African Republic of the Congo. Russia also buys malachite from it. At the same time, few people know that quite recently, by historical standards, it was Russia that was one of the world leaders in the extraction and processing of this beautiful mineral. Where did the very malachite go and how are things with it today?

Mining of copper and malachite began in the Urals under Peter I
Mining of copper and malachite began in the Urals under Peter I

Malachite is a mineral based on copper carbonate. This stone has been known to mankind since time immemorial, since a beautiful greenish mineral was now and then found together with copper. At the beginning of the 18th century, the Gumeshevsky copper mine was opened in Russia at the source of the Chusovaya River. By the end of the century, about 1 million tons of copper were mined there every year. Together with the metal, hundreds of pounds of malachite were also extracted from the earth. Already under Catherine II, the largest piece of malachite weighing 1504 kg was mined at the Turchanin mine. It was presented to the empress personally. The nugget is kept to this day in the Mining Museum of St. Petersburg.

The largest piece of malachite in St. Petersburg
The largest piece of malachite in St. Petersburg

In 1814, 8.2 tons of malachite were mined at the Gumeshevsky copper mine alone. In 1824, 9.9 tons of the greenish mineral had already been mined. At the same time, the cost of malachite per pood (16 kg) was constantly growing from 300 rubles in the 18th century to 4 thousand rubles in the 19th century. More and more new deposits were discovered in the Urals. There was so much malachite that even the phenomenon of "Russian mosaic" appeared: a thin layer of malachite was covered with marble, wood and many other materials. Malachite was now used to make not only jewelry, but also tableware, interiors, household items and even sculptures.

Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg
Isaac's Cathedral, St. Petersburg

"Malachite happiness" continued in Russia until the end of the 19th century, until the first problems began. Most of the copper mines went too deep, 200-250 meters deep, making mining increasingly risky, time-consuming and expensive. The cost of production has skyrocketed. The mining was complicated by the fact that in 1872 the Gumeshevsky mine was flooded with groundwater. By the beginning of the 20th century, the rest of the mines had already deepened by 300 meters or more. Malachite began to come across less and less, and soon its reserves were completely depleted. The last batch of the mineral was delivered in 1916.

Work was in full swing, but the mines were inevitably depleted
Work was in full swing, but the mines were inevitably depleted

To date, all known malachite deposits in Russia have been developed. Therefore, to see "Russian Malachite" these days you can only in museums. Of course, the greenish mineral now and then comes across to geologists, but in extremely small quantities. At the same time, scientists reasonably believe that in the Urals there are still several potential places of occurrence of copper and malachite. True, due to the lack of funding and the lack of specific plans for the future for the development of land gifts, domestic geology is not too eager to work in this direction.

All Russian malachite in museums
All Russian malachite in museums

If you want to know even more interesting things, then you should read about "Golden Triangle": a cautionary tale of the largest nugget found in Russia.

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