Golden Kupol


National Geographic, Russia, 2014 – « Golden Kupol »

The Golden mine Kupol is situated in the remote area at the far end of Eastern Siberia in the Russian district of Chukotka.

The Kupol goldmine (its name means ‘Dome’ in Russian) is situated in a remote area of the vast expanses of Eastern Siberia – in the Russian district of Chukotka.

It is accessible for workers only by air, with a two-hour flight from Magadan. Between November and April low temperatures allow for the construction of a 350 km ice road across tundra leading to the port of Pevek. This is the main supply route for industrial equipment and other goods.

Second only to South Africa, this region of Siberia reportedly has the largest gold reserves in the world.

Before the Canadian company Kinross Gold began mining Kupol in 2008 (the construction on the site started in 2005), these gold deposits were mined by prisoners of Stalin’s camps in the 1930s.

Nowadays this mine is the most modern in the world despite being located in a very isolated spot with most severe weather conditions. It looks like a set from a science fiction film. In every field advanced technologies are integrated: remotely operated drills work the deepest recesses of the mine to minimise the risk to workers. Living quarters resemble a space station with its long corridor and sleeping wings on both sides. They are ultramodern. Sleeping compartments are quiet and isolated from noisy areas, while the corridor is filled with social facilities: recreation spaces like a gym, billiard and ping-pong tables, a library, TV lounges, prayer rooms, tearooms and a lively café with a local workers’ rock band. In addition, there is an experimental hydro-culture greenhouse providing around 25 kilos of fresh salad on a daily basis, as well as jobs for the locals.

A heated 900 metre long tunnel leads workers to the factory and administration building as temperatures can drop down to -50⁰C.

The mines are operated by an international team. Russians and Ukrainians make up 75% of employees, while the rest of the workforce comes from all over the world – Canada, Germany, Brazil, Chile and Hungary. A work shift lasts for two months with a twelve-hour working day, followed by a two months holiday.

Kinross takes ecology seriously. The company tries to develop different ways of waste recycling, for example used oil from mining machines is utilised for the heating system. It is the first site in Russia, which was awarded the «Certificate of the International Cyanide Management Code».