A Yakutia man faces charges of illegally mining gold after a police search of his premises netted more than $3 million worth of the precious metal.
A criminal case has been opened against the man, who is accused of panning for placer gold without a license in the remote Artyk River basin, the regional Interior Ministry office reported on Saturday.
“Police seized 58.410 kilograms (128.5 pounds) of the precious metal worth more than 99 million rubles. Mineralogical analysis showed that it was placer gold,” the Interior Ministry said on its website.
Individuals illegally produce an estimated 15 to 20 tons of gold a year, nearly 10 percent of Russia’s total, according to a bill currently before the Russian legislature that would allow individual prospectors to pan for gold at some sites where production by large-scale enterprises is not economically viable.