Voitsky copper mine

Region
City / settlement Nadvoitsy

For a long time Russia hadn’t had its own gold, and was taking it as salvage during its compains.

The Tsar Fjodor Alekseevich in his decree in 1682 declared that the precious metals “are not born in Moskovy”... But this statement turned out to be wrong. The remote area has become the homeland of the first Russian gold out of basement rock, and the first gold mine was open in Karelia, in Nadvoitsy.

The Voitsky gold-mine was situated on the right side of the river Nizhniy Vyg, near its source, on the penunsula, waterlocked from three sides. On this cape towered on a 14-meter high Voitskaya mountain, composed of slate and cut from the east to the west by a cleft of 80 meters long, where quartz vain passed. It contained pyrities, talk, ochre, spar, native copper and native gold.

Taras Antonov, a native of Nadvoitsy, having mined some pieces of ironstone, presented them in 1737 to the office of mining factories in Petrozavodsk. So, he discovered the ore deposit. Five years later, in 1742 copper ore was started to mine. Nobody still knew that gold could be mined here. The iron stone was delivered to the Olonetsky bress works for being remelted: in summer – by water, in winter – by carts, the peasants, who took it to Petrozavodsk, were paid 6 kopeicks a day.
Two years later, the aware people noticed a preciuos metal in the vain and November 21, 1744 a sample of ironstone, containing gold from Voitsky mine was delivered to the empress Elithabeth. December15, the same year a decree, sighned by the empress followed. It was beginning like this:”It became known , that ... on Voitsky Mine ... among copper ore, a gold metal weighing 7 zolotniks..has been found”.

It was the first Russian ore gold (in Ural it would have been found only the following year, and the famous official Berezovsky gold-mines would have been found in 1752).

An ore-dressing factory was built on Voitsky mine– downstream the river, on the left side of the waterfall. There were crushes for the pulverization of the ore and the buddles for its streaming on the factory. Andreyan Shamshev was sent to the mine, he analyzed the ore and sent April 1, 1745 twelve stamples, containing gold to Moscow. April 19, the empress Elizabeth ordered to appoint Shamahev the chief of the mine, giving him instructions to search carefully the workers, leaving the mine. Besides, the entrance into the mine was under a special chief’s control and was seald up by him.

In 1756 the Voitsky mine was handed over to the Nerchinsk mine expedition, which was in charge of precious metal mining and was situated in St.-Petersburg. The mining oficial Keller was sent to Karelia and he made a conclusion:”the vain goes under the river Vyg”. Here gold yielded only after a hard work, there was little of it and it run into money to the treasury. The mine was always filled with the water of the river Vyg, the pumping demanded a huge force: there were 42 people working on the hand pumps.
Three years later the Nerchinskaya expedition counted the beats for the treasury and made a declaration in the Senate: “Stop the mine, the miners are to be sent to the Siberian factories”. But the Senate didn’t agree, the works contunued. Only September, 1770 Cathrine II made a decree to abandone the mine. However, it was offered to rent the mine to any businessman, if there was one who wished.
No offers arrived and the mine was closed, the workers were moved to the factories of Petrozavodsk. The peasants of Nadvoitsy were charged to look after the buildings in the mine. During the first period of its work (1744-1770) the Voitsky mine gave 1 pood 21 pounds 71 zolotniks of gold, and 4233 poods of copper.

In 1772 Alexander Glatkov, a Moscow University graduate, was charged with the administration of the Voitsky mine, He was sent there with miners and 60 peasants to pump out the water from a submurged miner. May 28, 1772 the work started, and after three months of drudgery the miner was drained. They started to lead drifting in the excavation. Only during 1773 under Glatkov nearly 4 kg of gold were extracted. This success lead to the decision of building a horse drainage machine, which had been built up by 1774. It was put in effect by six horses, standing on the surface of the mine, near a mineshaft. The machine replaced 60 people, and was taking up the water from 75 meters depths. During this period the largest gold nuggets have been found. Their weight varied from 400 to 1356 grams. They were sent to St.-Petersburg to the Imperial Hermitage.

Since the spring of 1772 the ore-dressing factory was reconstructed. But in 1873 by the order of the Senate it had to stop working for the second time. There were a few reasons for this: it was becoming more and more difficult to pump out the water from the subsurface, and the vain was considered to be depleted. But inspite of this curcumstance, by initiative of Karl Goskoin, the head of Olonetski Factories, Katherine II ordered to construct a steam engine for pumping out the water from the mine. Its construction in winter 1789-90 was one of the main achievments of Alexandrovsky cannon factory, built in 1773 in Petrozavodsk. Probably the draft of the mashine was brought from England, where its creator D. Watt five years ago got the patent for his invention.
The steam engine was taken to Povenets by water (its weight was 54 tons) and then to Nadvoitsy on dry land. It started working July 8, 1791 and has been functionning with the breaks for nearly three years. Two English mecanicsand and four Russian workers served it. It was the first steam engine in the mining of Russia.

But the advanced technologies didn’t help the gold of Voitsy to appear – in this period only 600 grams have been mined. In connection with this the empress ordered May 27, 1794 to leave the mine. And it was closed once and for good. The steam engine was stripped and taken to the mint of St.-Petersburg.

The gold of Karelia left its outstanding mark in the archives, where the Berg-collegium’s dossiers are kept; hundred meters of silent, submurged underground galleries are left in the depth of Voitsky mountain, the scale on the earth and hundred tons of gob. Moreover, 74 kg of gold, mined here, are still going all over the world as coins and decorations... And, of course, the guns made of Voitsk copper have augmanted glory to our Motherland for the past centuries.

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