Kolyma – a Mecca for gold tourism?26.01.2015
The Magadan region has many small gold placer deposits, which in most cases are not cost-effective to mine with the industrial technologies that are currently available.
However, even the smallest placers with reserves of less than 30 kg, or even no reserves at all, can yield high profits, provide employment, and provide a significant boost for regional budgets.
The economic essence of gold tourism is to raise the value of the precious metal by drawing in tourists for mining. The owner of a deposit charges a fee for working at the site and offers tourists various services, for a fee as well. The benefit in doing this is that each tourist will bring thousands of roubles (or thousands of dollars), which will be deposited in the area, to take away, on average, 1 gram of gold. Therefore, every gram of gold will be able to bring in more than 1,000 dollars. Even the smallest deposit will be profitable; it will be active for a number of years, and provide an income both for the owner and for the budget.
In America, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, and many other countries, gold mining tourism provides employment for the local population in the service sector and a good trade turnover. It also promotes the development of hotels, roads, and landscaping, and helps businesses that manufacture equipment for gold mining tourism (mini dredges, mini devices, metal detectors etc.), which in turn provides more jobs and more taxes.
Gold mining tourism is impossible in Russia at the moment, although it would be perfect for providing jobs and bringing profit into many regions. Gold is produced industrially in 30 federal entities, but there are non-industrial sites everywhere, even around Moscow. Many deposits are in beautiful areas and have placer gold, which is easy to extract and therefore good for tourists. There are places all over the country that would be ideal for gold mining tourism: the Altai Territory, Buryatia, Magadan Region, Primorye, Khabarovsk Territory, Kamchatka are those that can offer such tourist destinations.
The expansion of gold mining tourism in Russia is being hampered by legislation, which prohibits private gold mining. This is why we now have illegal mining instead of beneficial tourism. Using very primitive equipment, people earn their living selling gold to buyers for 40 – 50% of the world market price, or exchanging gold for vodka. Illegal gold miners are called “predators”, but they are actually hard workers who earn with their hands rather than through fraud or bribery.
Adopting the law On Gold Tourism will create tens of thousands of jobs in places where they are desperately needed, particularly in the Magadan Region. Gold tourism is a real opportunity to boost the region’s economy. The province of Yukon (Canada) is visited by around 60,000 “gold” tourists every year! Just imagine if the Magadan Region had 60,000 visitors every year – it would certainly have a positive effect on the region’s economy. If the amendments to the legislation are adopted, Kolyma could, in time, become a Mecca for gold tourism.
Magadanskaya Pravda (Viktor Pastush)