In 2001 an international scientific and technical conference and exhibition took place in Irkutsk, Eastern Siberia, on precious metals and stones and problems of their mining and extraction from ores, sands and raw material. This event was dedicated to the 130th anniversary of the Irkutsk Research Institute of Noble and Rare Metals and Diamonds (Irgiredmet), the leader of Russia's gold- mining industry.
"Today it is a comprehensive and dynamically developing enterprise", says Dr. A. Ayriyants, one of the delegates, "where many problems are tackled, starting from geological feasibility studies to R&D, construction projects, equipment supplies and the like. It is here that new technologies of precious metal processing are born."
It was natural for leading scientists, technologists and production workers to attend the jubilee conference. There were over 300 delegates representing dozens of research institutes and companies from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Khabarovsk, Chita, as well as from such countries as Germany, China, Mongolia, New Zealand, Ukraine and Sweden. Among them there were such world-famous companies as the League of Gold- Diggers of Russia, the China Gold Society (CNGS), the Lenzoloto Company, the Wagner Siberia Equipment, the ADD Engineering and others. The Siberian branch of RAS was represented by the Institute of Geochemistry named after A. P. Vinogradov and the Mining Institute of the North. Even this far from complete list shows that the forum was quite representative-research and producer organizations pooled efforts in prospecting and mining.
The main topics under consideration were these: the present state of the gold- mining industry and its development prospects, the geological and technological characteristics of deposits, prospecting-and-mining equipment, energy-saving technology, laboratory and analytical equipment, the methods of gold-containing raw concentration, ecology, secondary use of materials, and so forth. The Russian participants in the conference maintain that the gold-mining industry of our country has good output prospects, it has good outlooks for the introduction of new saving technologies; it has a real chance of surpassing the "pre-reform" level of production.
An exhibition was held alongside the conference. The exhibits gave an insight into the work of modern analytical and laboratory instruments, and of mining equipment. A mobile analytical complex, developed by the Polymetal Company (St. Petersburg), drew particular attention. It is based on a laboratory version of the segregational centrifugal concentrator operating on the principle of mechanic "dilution" of the material. In its characteristics the complex is not inferior to similar devices made by reputable foreign companies. The second element of the complex is a conductive express analyzer of gold. It allows to determine the content of the precious metal in gold placers, in ground bedrocks and in concentrates. The minimal size of grains that it can fix is equal to 0.01 mm. And the third component of the analyzer complex is a laboratory centrifugal grinder mill (15 kg) capable of grinding fine (dry and wet) stone material. Should this complex pass tests and be adopted as part of the kit of field prospecting parties, it will considerably expedite their work and cut expenses involved in assay - it will allow to do without expensive qualitative analysis of what is known as dead rock that makes up a significant part of samples.
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