In 1940, Norilsk geologists found an ore deposit there. In 1941, a geological exploration party was sent to Imangda, and drilling began in the spring. At Imangda, as in Norilsk, copper-nickel ores are adjacent to rich coal deposits. But besides this, geologists also discovered magnetite deposits there. In the 1940s, there were plans to develop ferrous metallurgy in Imangda, to build a steel mill and a railway. At the same time, there were ideas to build a coke plant at the Imangda coal deposit. There were many different plans, but things did not go beyond geological exploration.
This is how geologist Victor Kravtsov, later one of the discoverers of Talnah, recalled his work in the remote village of Imangda.
“…There were only two drilling rigs in the batch, but they were great! KM2-300 and KM-500 with N-22 oil engines, which had to be started by heating one of the hemispheres of their heads on a fire, folding these hemispheres into a ball and first spraying fuel into it from a can hanging on the wall. The machines worked with counterweight levers (on which some kind of load was suspended or the driller hung to create pressure on the bottom) and with pedal winches for raising and lowering the drill bit. The machine was driven through a flywheel, and the drive belt was put on a pulley while it was moving. Safety precautions were practically non-existent. It’s amazing that there wasn’t a single injury during the whole time.
The remoteness of the Imangda party from Norilsk (90 kilometers to the east at the foot of the Syverma mountains of the Putorana plateau), its staff composed of prisoners, the boss, who lived in a separate good-quality log house with shutters and locked himself at night with strong bolts, contributed to very low discipline at work and lack of order in the village. They made and drank barrels of mash, slept off at work, often fought and even tried to shoot at each other more than once.
They didn’t touch me, even when I had to intervene in prisoners’ fights at night, stop fights, take away guns until they sobered up (a couple of times three or four guns spent the night under my bed). They gave it up, they obeyed, as they didn’t really want to go back to the prison. The drilling work, of course, was carried out in a slipshod manner; I often received threatening telegrams from Norilsk and reprimands for failure to fulfill the plan. Often, the two of us, together with civilian drilling foreman Azhmambet Avlisov, had to stand shifts at the levers of the machine, pulling out the plan, eliminating accidents in the wells. I acted as a junior worker. Sometimes I went to Norilsk, most often by An-2 plane, landing on nearby lake Yampahto by boat, and on skis in winter.
In the deep autumn of 1959, we had to urgently get out to the city along with Georgy Maslov’s seasonal party. Already in the snow, on foot, we reached the Norilka river, to the Oron rapids. Then, on old boats, with planks instead of oars (the fishermen refused giving us oars), two or three people in each began to raft.
We drilled and studied the Imangda, Manturovo and Nakohoz intrusions, hoping to find good ore in one of the areas, but, alas, there was none. They decided to liquidate the party by calculating the reserves of the best, but still off-balance, ore in the Imangda intrusion (perhaps it would be useful in the future).
Work in remote geological villages was stopped after the riches of Talnah were discovered. However, geologists say that Imangda’s reserves are not poor at all, they just lie too deep for their extraction to be profitable now. In addition, the promising ores of Imangda paled in comparison with the inaccessibility of the region itself. So this snowy territory still keeps its deposits untouched”.
In the History Spot photo project’s previous publication, we told how in the late 1950s a technical revolution happened in the Norilsk construction industry.
Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive