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The history of the Kaliningrad Amber Combine

09 June 2020

Kaliningrad Amber Combine – what is it? Let’s start from the beginning. It was established in 1947 next to the amber deposits in Jantarnyja (also known as Palmincken). Kaliningrad Amber Combine was combined of Palmnicken Amber Mine (the oldest and closed one), Primorksoje – active and the Beach one, also known as the Beachline. It was the youngest mine located on the shore, closed.

Palmnicken Amber Mine was active from 1912 to 1972 (Kostiaszowa, 1999), Beach Mine from 1972 to 2001, and the Primorskje Mine has been active since 1976. During the economic reforms in 1993, the combine was privatized and transformed into a joint-stock company – Russkij Jantar. Ineffective activity as well as increasing debt led to the cancellation of the company’s privatization (1997) in accordance with a court ruling. The state-owned enterprise Kaliningrad Amber Combine has been re-established, however, it is still in a constant crisis to this day, which was particularly manifested during the decline in raw material extraction. The largest decrease in raw material extraction took place in 1997, which was affected by the following events:

  • The reorganization of the company resulted in the fact that during many months there were two enterprises – a joint-stock company and a state-owned company, which led to chaos in production management.
  • The increasing debts meant that the combine was disconnected from the power plant many times, and the combined management was deprived of funds for fuel and equipment repairs. All this led to long breaks in the operation of the mines. 

The downward trend in production is still noticeable today. The exhaustion od the elementary source of amber on the beach section means that it is impossible to restore the extraction of this raw material to a level of 700 to 800 tons per year in the coming years. Extraction from the “beach section” amounted to over 80% of the total volume of extracted raw material. Data provided by Włodzimierz Borisenka (the most important geologist of the combine) show a difference in amber mining during the years. In the first half of 1990 in 1 m3 spoil it was 2.5 kg, while at the end of the decade it fell to 1.2 kg. These data clearly indicate that the beach section has run out and the mine is currently closed.

During the USSR, it was planned that Primorskoje mine would be a plant retaining 1000 tons of amber per year, however, it did not achieve such high levels of extraction even in the best years of operation. According to the data provided by Borisenka, the largest recorded mining in the mine took place in 1987 and amounted to 230 tons. The smallest took place in 1998 and amounted to 84 tonnes. The total content of raw material in the Primorskoje mine was on average 1.4kg per 1 m3 of spoil. Compared to the beach section, the amber mined in this mine was different. First of all, it is of a better grade and occurs in larger size nuggets. In addition to that amount of amber extraction, the quality of the raw material obtained is extremely important.

Data provided by Pietuchowa (2000) indicate that 4.8% was amber fraction >32 mm, while 40.5% fraction < 8mm. In the combine, until the beginning of 1990, there was a developed system for a chemical procession of a smaller fraction of amber (intended for the production of varnishes and paints) and since 1993, this small amount of raw material has been stored. Up to 2015 tonnes of amber were collected (data from May 2001). In match 2003, the combine was reorganized again, as a result of which the bankruptcy procedure was initiated, which covered a period of 18 months (a new external board was introduced). Due to the fact that the company is federal state property, a team of managers was sent from Moscow to carry out rapid changes in the production and recovery of financial conditions.

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