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ArticleName Kuznetsk coal discoverers in the history of mining in Russia
DOI 10.17580/gzh.2015.05.22
ArticleAuthor Kovtun I. V.

Name & Surname: Kovtun I. V.
Company: Institute of Human Ecology, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (Kemerovo, Russia)
Work Position: Head of Laboratory for Archeology
Scientific Degree: Doctor of Historical Sciences


The year of 2016 is the 295th anniversary of black coal discovery in the Kuznetsk Basin. Formally, Kuznetsk coal was discovered on September 11, 1721 by Mikhailo Volkov. Factually, this happened earlier. The authors of the documentary biography of M. Volkov date the discovery by October 1720. However, no document dated back to 1720 proves the discovery of black coal or ore by M. Volkov. Instead, there is Volkov’s report as of summer 1721 about silver ore discovery on Krasnaya Gora. Consequently, reputed discoverer of Kuznetsk coal, M. Volkov actually claimed finding of silver or ore occurrences on Krasnaya Gora rather than black coal. German specialist Paul Prifzen and Uktus resident Nikita Petrov, who participated in re-appraisal of Krasnaya Gora reserves initiated by M. Volkov in September 1721, also declared the Gora as a metal ore deposit. In M.N. Kolobkov’s opinion, exploration of the Kuznetsk Basin was launched by Daniel Gottlieb Messerschmidt who made “first description of found black coal fields”. In spring 1721, D. G. Messerschmidt together with an associate, P. I. Strahlenberg, were in Tomsk where they met with captured Sweden lieutenant D. G. Ehrenberg. On the evidence acquired from Ehrenberg, D. G. Messerschmidt reported black coal occurrence “between Komarova (Kemerovo — author’s remark) and village of Krasnaya” in his diary on April 28, 1721. D. G. Messerschmidt was the first to identify black coal and discover it on the shores of both the Tom and Nizhnyaya Tunguska rivers. He found at least two deposits, described “an outcrop of a coal bed not less than 4 feet thick, among clay and black and grey chalk” and predicted commercial future for Evenkia, “I have no doubts, it is possible to construct mines and realize produced black coal at a high profit.”

keywords Black coal, Kuznetsk Basin, Tom, D.G. Messerschmidt, M. Volkov, Krasnaya Gora, “Spitfire”

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