Why do the rich mineral deposits of Siberia pose a problem?
You can answer this question on many levels, but I would say that any discoveries of natural resources will play a huge role in the world for a few reasons. First, natural resources are limited. For example, there is a limited amount of oil, natural gasses, etc. Second, for this reason, people can use these natural resources to make a lot of money. This will make certain people wealthy and others poorer or dependent on others. Third, because natural resources change the balance of power, there can be geo-political issues that we are not completely aware of. Now when it comes to Russia (especially in the light of a rising China), a great amount of resources may weaken the influence of America and Europe.
Well, they are a problem for Russia to access, because Siberia is both rugged and remote, so any development of those resources is going to have a significant up front dollar investment before there is any returns to speak of. There will undoubtedly be international competition for the rights to secure those resources should Russia call for foreign investment.
It is also a problem because Siberia is largely forested and relatively pristine, meaning it is one of the world's ecofriendly carbon dioxide scrubbing zones. Development of resources almost always spoils the environment, and in Russia that is particularly true. There are rare species of animals in that region that may be threatened.
A real brake in the new rush after gold is even Siberia, with it's impossible climatic conditions. This is affirmed by people who have worked in such difficult weather conditions, the Atacama Desert, in Chile, or above 5000 meters altitude, in Indonesia.
Russia has the largest proven gold reserves in the world, after South Africa, while Russia's gold production, in 2008, was only the fifth in the world, between Australia and Peru, representing 8% of global production.
The poor development of gold mining industry in Russia has a simple explanation. Most of the large gold deposits are located in eastern Siberia, a remote area, nearly untouched in terms of infrastructure.
In the '30s of the last century, the first massive gold mining in the region was due to the Soviet Gulag. Visarionovici Joseph Stalin sent thousands of prisoners of war or political condemned to dig for gold, with their bare hands, in the icy soil. Most mines were abandoned after the Second World War and the Soviets have given a relatively small importance to the Siberian gold mining, because of the huge costs. But the crisis came, and the price of gold jumped to $ 1,000 per ounce, in the spring of 2008, after long years in which the price of gold has moved between 400 and $ 500 per ounce.
Russia's gold production increased by 13% in 2008, the first time, after five years of decline. Much of this increase is due to an investment,the new Kupol mine,from Chukotka region, where -in every winter - a 400 km of ice road connects the world to the one of the most remoted gold mines.