A collection of platinum at the Mining Museum of National University of Mineral Resources

Published: Popova E.E., Logunova M.N., Kurguzova A.V.  A collection of platinum at the Mining Museum of National University of Mineral Resources // Scientific reports on Recourses Issues. Vol.1 -2013

Humanity knows platinum for thousands years. Archaeologists found many art products produced from special aurum-platinum alloy with silver on the Inca territory. Vessels, vases, needles, rings, bracelets were made from this alloy. Unfortunately, all these goods weren’t dated.

At the middle of XVIII century Spanish «happiness hunters» found metal, which they couldn’t melt. Discovered metal was named platinum.  Young Spanish officer and geodesist Antonio de Ulloa, who took part in French expedition to Peru from 1735 to 1745, brought platinum in Europe. Coming to Spain in 1748 year, Antonio de Ulloa published “A Voyage to South America”. In this book he wrote about Choko province where found many gold placers were. He was very surprised, because many of these gold placers were closed because of presence “Platina del Pinto” – heavy white metal, which obstructs gold extraction. Antonio de Ulloa described this metal in detail [6].

The first platinum at the Mining Museum’s collection is a small platinum grains schlich from placer near by Pinto River. This schlich came to the collection at 1802 year with collection of English mineralogist J. Forster (sample № 11/52 according to A.E. Kupffer catalogue [3] ). 

Platinum in Russia was discovered at XIX century. Mining museum collection illustrates history of researching this mineral very good. Prominent mineralogist, academician V. M. Severgin at 1814 wrote «platinum in Russia doesn’t exist and we will give this name to gray gold…» [7]. At 1819 year the Head of Gornoblagodatski plants sent some expeditions for investigation of East Ural and silver metal was found at 1822 in Nevyansk and Bilimbaevsk gold placers. Mining engineer V.V. Lyubarskii studied new silver metal at Mining Cadet Korpus laboratory and concluded that this metal was “row platinum with abundance of osmium and iridium” [4]. Mine surveyor N. Volkov discovered the first rich platinum placer at 1824  on the Urulich river and the placer was named Tsarevo-Alexandrovskaya. K. P. Golyakovskii party discovered platinum placers at the Nizhneturiinsk plant at 1824 and 9 placers were found on the Is river at 1825.

First Russian platinum came to the Mining Museum collection at 1827 from mines near by Kushva river. Mining engineer A. Archipov made gears, rings, spoons and other small crafts at Kushvinskii plant laboratory to demonstrate value of Ural platinum.  [1] A part of these crafts was at Mining Museum up to 1923.

Discovering of platinum at Nizheturiinsk plant impelled Demidoff to start platinum searching at Nizhetagilsk plants. At 1844 year 20 mines existed near by Nizhetagilsk plants and all mines together called Martyanovsk mine [9].

Fig.1. A map of Nizhe-Tagilskii district, Central Urals. Picture taken from A. V. Kalugin report 1887 [2].

To the 1828 at Ural were extracted 1 600 kg of platinum. At that time in Brasil, Gaiti and Columbia were extracted less as a quarter of this quantity. United Laboratory of Mining and Salt department of Mining Institute started refining experiments at 1827. Academician P. G. Sobolevskii and chemist V. V. Lyubarskii were directors of this laboratory. First experiments on powder metallurgy were provided at this laboratory. P. G. Sobolevskii and V. V. Lyubarskii get 800 kg of pure platinum during 11 months. Earlier English chemist and physicist William Hyde Wollaston provided same experiments [1].

Coinage started by the order of minister of finance Y. F. Kankrin. Platinum coins produced from 1828 to 1845 year, after that the Treasury immobilized 75% of these coins. To this time 16 500 kg of pure platinum were at the Mint. Platinum export was permitted at 1867 and platinum refining at the Mint were stopped. All Russian platinum was exported to England, Gemany and French at these times.

At the second part of XIX century Russian government took efforts to start platinum coinage.  Academician B. Yacobi went to the Paris where he took part in experiments on platinum melting providing by French scientists. B. Yacobi have 3 pound of platinum and he made some platinum nuggets. Four coins prepared by B. Yacobi are keeping at the Mining Museum collection.

The platinum nugget weight 4337,8 grams was found near by Nizhi Tagil. N.N. Demodoff gifted this nugget to imperator Nicolai I and Nicolai I granted the nugget to the Mining Museum. At present time this nugget is at the Kremlin’s State Diamond Fund. Larger nugget weight 5112, 25 g came to the collection from Saint-Petersburg Mint and this nugget is still safe at Mining Museum collection.  

The greatest Russian platinum nugget “Urals Giant” was kept at Ming Museum up to 1907 year. At present time this nugget weight 7860,5 g is at the Kremlin’s State Diamond Fund. At 1898 mining engineer M. Mel’nikov wrote: «there are 1 pood 37 pound of platinum at Mining Museum» [5].

Platinum came to the Mining Museum collection by different ways. The greatest samples came according to Imperators decisions from Saint-Petersburg Mint. Some samples were in Forster collection which were bought at 1802 г. and cont L. A. Perevoskii collection bought at 1847 г. Colonel Nefedief presented plenty of sampled after his expeditions (1865 — 1867) to Ural. Some samples were presented by Demidoff.  

At 1909 prospectors discovered the biggest bed deposit named Gospodskaya shachta located in Soloviev ravine. Dunites with platinum came to the Mining Museum collection at 1965 year. (samples № MGS 11/75/1-3, MGS 11/76).

Geological party N. N. Urvantsev at 1919 year concluded high perspective of Norilsk region on precious metals.  Famous platinum specialist N. K. Vysotsky showed that Norilsk ores contains abundant quality of platinum group metals.  N. K. Vysotsky provided his research at Mining Institute laboratories. Powerful mineral-recourses basements of platinum metals were created after discovering big Talnach (1960 year) and unique Oktyabrsk (1965 year) deposits. New platinum horizons were discovered at Norilsk at 1980. At the same time were found new platinum ores on Kola Peninsula, Karelia, South Siberia and the Far East.  

There are 17 samples of Norilsk rocks and Pt-Pd-rich ores (Pt 78,4%, Pd 1,1%) at the Mining Museum collection.  Moreover, there are some platinum and palladium schlich presented by Talnakh  и Norilsk concentration plants from 1967 to 1977 years (samples № MGS 11/81,82, №MGS 11/87-100).

 Platinum from Bushveld massif came to the Museum at 1940 (sample №GS11/78), and another sample was presented by lead geologist G. Chanetta (№GPI 1/512).

At the unique Konder deposit (Khabarovsk Krai) mining started at 1984 year. Mochalov A.G. found the first platinum nuggets weight 20 and 70 grams on Konder at 1981. The first platinum nuggets weight more 1,5 kg were found on Konder one year later after starting deposit exploration. All these finds were sensation at the precious metals market. The most successful was 1993 year, when at steam canal of Konder river were found large nuggets weight 1078, 1195, 1810 and 1855 grams. One of the most meaningful finds was nugget weight 1912 grams which was found at 1999 year [8]. Unfortunately, most of these nuggets were floated.

First platinum samples from Konder was gifted to the Museum by professor D. P. Grigoriev and geologist L. V. Rasin at 1966 (exhibits № MGS 11/80, 11/86, platinum in chromite).

57 platinum nuggets are described at the Museum catalogue, written by A. E. Kupffer at 1911. At 1907 because of revolution situation in Russia all value platinum and gold nuggets from Mining Museum collection were given to Saint Petersburg Mint and after to the Kremlin’s State Diamond Fund.

In conclusions we can told that history of platinum deposits discovering and exploration is very good illustrated at the Mining Museum collection.


1) Vysotsky N. K. Platinum and regions of platinum exploration. Part.1: Petrograd. – 1923. — p.

2) Kalugin A.V. Opisanie Uralskogo chrebta v topograficheskom, geologicheskom I mineralogicheskom otnosheniyach. Yekaterinburg. 1887. – p.

3) Kupffer A.E. Mineralogicheskaya kollekciya gornogo instituta Imperatrici Ekaterinyu II.: Saint-Petersburg. 1911 year. – p.

4) Lyubarskii V. V. Ob otkryutii platinyu v Rossii // Otechestvennyue zapiski. 1823. Part XVI, book 1, vol. 42 – pp.

5) Melnikov M. Putevoditel po Museumu. 1898. — pp.

6) Orlov V.N. Platinovyue samorodki of Almaznyui Fond RF: svidetelstva istorii // Mineralogicheskii Almanah, №.15, vol.3. 2010 г. Moscow: OOO «Al’tum» — pp.

7) Severgin V.M. Obozrenie mineralnogo cabineta Imperatorskoi Akademii Nauk // Technologicheskii zhurnal. 1814. V. X. Part. 1.3 — — pp.

8) Sushkin L.B. Noble metal nuggets of Kondyor platinum placer deposit // RMS Annual session. 2007.  – p. 144-148.

9) Geograficheski i statisticheski slovar Permskoi gubernii. Perm. 1873. – pp.

10) Archivyu Gornogo museya: Kniga o zapisi mineralov № 10 f. 1, op. 1, d. 10) 1878-1936 years.