Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has recently proposed to allow not only companies but also private individuals to prospect for gold in the remote northeastern Magadan region. Such a proposal may lead to a large number of gold seekers just the same as it was during the Soviet times.
It may happen soon that the regional authorities will have a right to issue gold-mining licenses to the local population. Local pensioners are interested in getting such licenses most.
The Russian authorities believe than gold fever will be able to calm down social tensions and will also help fight unemployment.
Only legal entities are allowed to prospect for gold in Russia today. However, it does not prevent individuals from prospecting for gold against the law. The new proposal will allow natural persons to legalize their gold-mining activities and will also increase the volumes of official gold mining in the country.
It is supposed that individuals will not be prospecting for gold at the places where companies are doing it.
Experts say that Russia is following the American example as far as the gold mining policy is concerned. In the USA, the financial crisis makes more and more people leave their offices to prospect for gold. This trend can be clearly seen in Alaska and California where the unemployment rate is very high.
During the Stalin era, Magadan was a major transit center for prisoners sent to labor camps. The operations of Dalstroy, a vast and brutal forced-labor gold-mining concern, were the main economic driver of the city for many decades during Soviet times.
The principal sources of income for the local economy are gold mining and fisheries. Recently, gold production has declined although future prospects look good.
The difference between the West and the two mighty allies in the East - Russia and China - is enormous. In fact, it is not a difference, but an outright contrast