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HISTORY OF THE ENTERPIZE

HISTORY OF THE AMBER INDUSTRY

The amber coasts of Kaliningrad Region are the center of the world amber mining and processing industry. The history of the amber industry runs deeply into remote ages.

As far back as in antiquity the Baltic semiprecious stones became a commodity of the international trade and the famous Amber Road through the European countries connected the Baltic with the Mediterranean area.

Since the end of XIII century and till the beginning of XVI amber was in the absolute ownership of crusaders bringing a hefty income to the Teutonic Order.

The XV century saw an absolute ban on collecting amber on the coast under the threat of death penalty. In the old engravings against the background of the amber catchers often gallows was depicted as a warning to those who wanted to lay hands on a part of raw stuff. Trade in amber was one of the main items of the Order's income. Only upon its liquidation in 1525 the epoch of the flowering of the artistic stone dressing begins.

Till the middle of XIX century the amber trade experienced a significant recession; the reason was a poor mining of the sunstone".

The situation had changed since the advent of Maurice Becker, a manufacturer who together with a companion founded the firm "Stantin & Becker" and began an industrial amber mining. The first mine Henrietta appeared in 1864, then the mine Anna was opened, 18 meters in depth; it functioned till 1925. The mine turned out to be rather profitable; the annual mining was some 500 tons of amber.

In 1912 at Palminken deposit the quarry Walter was broken of a depth of 50 meters having been in work for about 60 years. Since that moment they started amber mining from "blue soil" in the open pits. Multibucket excavators scooped "blue soil"and loaded it into electric train carriages which went to the concentration plant.


HISTORY OF THE AMBER COMBINE

In 1947 at the premises of the Koenigsberg amber factory which was part of the State amber manufacture in the times of eastern Prussia there was created the Kaliningrad amber combine - the world's biggest enterprise for the mining and processing of amber.

Over decades that followed the enterprise successfully developed, increased mining, assortment and volumes of production output - from mass amber product lines to dielectric isolators, lacquers, enamel paints and components for chemical industry.

1958 saw the introduction of more economic and safe method, hydraulic mining, instead of overburden mining operations by excavating which was open to serious earth slides. Hydraulic mining is in place to the present day.

When the capacities of the German quarry Walter which was opened back in 1912 had been depleted at the premises of the enterprise in 1976 a new quarry was commissioned - Primorsky - where mining is ongoing. The project foresaw a more advanced mining technology of amber mining and processing with the use of a multibucket excavator for mining raw amber to the concentration plant with the use of sea water.

MINING METHOD

At the Primorsky quarry the depth of the amber bearing bed which is a sandy-silty argillaceous rock of marine origin consisting of quartz, feldspar and glauconite is determined to be within 50-80 m. The layer thickness varies within 5-7 m.

The stone is mined by an excavator which puts the rock into a dump cone on the upper bench surface. The rock cone is washed up by a hydromonitor. The produced pulp flows by gravity into a suction dredger. Large pieces of amber are recovered yet in the quarry, they are caught by hand with the use of scoop-nets

Further on the dredger pumps mthe pulp from the quarry to the concentrator. The pipe run is over 1 km. Hoisting is done from elevation (-13) to elevation +27m. The pulp pumping is not only a transport operation, but an important technological operation. Over 90% of pulp is taken out from the process and go to the tailings storage. Further on the material goes for concentration to the main and control drum separators where it is sorted out on screens.

In the upgrade and screening cycles amber coming from the quarry and the concentrator undergoes final cleaning from sandy-argillaceous leather coats, chips, lignite and other foreign material, is dries, sorted out and weighed up.

The dried amber is loaded into baths with water where it sinks, light foreign material buoys to the surface and is removed. Hen amber goes to baths with 1,12 g/cm3 salt brine; here heavy dirt goes down and amber goes up.

Due to uniqueness of the enterprise the own experience is a guiding principle in improving technology and equipment.