Global amber market - analysis and description:
About amber - documented deposits and resources. The World - historical outline, prevalence, variety and deposits and descriptions of amber.
WHAT IS AMBER AND WHERE IT COMES FROM?
Amber - is a fossil resin of coniferous trees and, in rarer cases, resinous deciduous trees.
Presence in the world - the oldest deposits of amber come from Devonian formations (they were found in Canada); the youngest, not classified broadly into amber are found in South America, Africa, Australia and New Zealand (copal).
The biggest known amber deposits, estimated to amount to 80% of the entire world resources, are located in the Kaliningrad region (Russia). It is present in:
• Tertiary formations: Baltic, Dominican, Burmese (burmite) basins – a variety found in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Chilean, Mexican, Australian, Greenland (shraufit), Sakhalin, Sicilian;
• Cretaceous formations: Lebanese basin, Yakut basin, villeritite, cedarite- found in Canada, valchovite and neudirfite - variations found in the Czech Republic.
The best known and the most appreciated - the Baltic amber (succinite, “Baltic gold) is a type of amber formed in natural conditions at least 40 million years ago. It is found in Tertiary formations of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia, Denmark and Germany. Other fossil resins are found in Argentina (ambrite), Africa, Madagascar.
• Baltic amber - regarded as the best one and reaching more than 95% of the world resources
• aikaite - a variety of amber found in Hungary and France
• Dominican amber - blue variety of amber found in Tertiary sediments in the Dominican Republic and the island of Haiti
• Japanese amber - a variety of amber mined in the northern part of the island of Honshu (Japan), on the shores of the Pacific Ocean
• Lebanese amber - a variety of amber found in the Cretaceous sediments (Lower Cretaceous) in Lebanon in the Middle East
• Mexican amber - a variety of amber found in the Tertiary sediments (Upper Oligocene - Lower Miocene) in Mexico
• Taymyrskiy amber
• retinite – a variety characterized by succinic acid content of less than 3%, which makes it different from succinite. All ambers that are not succinite are variations of retinite.
• rumenite – variety found in Romania
• simetite - characterized by distinct opalescence), found in Italy
• valchovite – completely opaque, beige; found in Moravia (Czech Republic)
• krancite - variety found in Saxony, Germany.
WE KNOW APPROX. 60 AMBER VARIETIES (species).
The air bubbles inside determine amber looks. The more air bubbles, the whiter and more cloudy the amber is.
THE COLOUR OF AMBER – yellowish of various shades. Amber is sometimes milky white, brown, reddish. It can also be bluish or greenish (very rarely). It is transparent, translucent or opaque - depending on the quantity of air bubbles contained therein.
PROPERTIES OF AMBER :
- it is warm to touch
- if warmed in hand, it gives off a nice scent
- when rubbed, it charges negatively
- it burns with a light flame giving off a smell similar to incense
- it is easy to work mechanically
- if heated rapidly, it cracks
- softening temperature approx. 150 °C
- it melts at 350 °C
- it can be dyed by means of organic and synthetic substances
- amber can be subjected to thermal processes of refining and dyeing, shaping and ironing
Amber was traded in the entire ancient Europe.
It was exceptionally popular in the Roman Empire as well as throughout the Mediterranean.
Amber expeditions were organized since the 5th century BC along the so called amber route from the Adriatic to the coast of the Baltic Sea.
INCLUSIONS - sometimes amber contains very precious,
especially from the scientific point of view,
They are also exceptionally attractive to collectors
as they often constitute inclusions of perfectly
preserved animal and plant organisms.
Amber forest - it existed 40 million years ago, in a period known as the Eocene, it covered the area of present Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea.
Coniferous trees grew in that forest which produced large amounts of resin which later transformed into amber lumps. More than 95% of the world's known reserves are located in Europe, mostly in the Baltic Sea.
It is found mainly along the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, in countries such as:
- Sambia Peninsula - Russia (Kaliningrad)
- Lithuania - near Klaipeda,
- Latvia, and sometimes in Sweden.
Figure. The hypothetical Eridan River and an outline of its amber-bearing Gdansk Delta
Baltic amber deposits, which have or have had industrial importance, can only be found in Russia, Poland, Ukraine and Germany. That is why names such as Baltic amber, Ukrainian amber, Saxon amber (or interchangeably: Bitterfeld amber) mean the same type of amber, they are synonyms of succinite.
The deposits of this amber belong to the secondary deposits of sedimentary origin, which means that before they were ultimately deposited they had passed a longer or shorter distance. A lot has been written about amber and maps dating back to the 16th century have also provided a great amount of knowledge.
Amber was first supplied by cliffs and amber catchings along the long coast of the Baltic Sea, and afterwards by the mines in the Sambia Peninsula (Kaliningrad).
On the northern coast of the former Eocene Sea - in Chlapowo near Gdansk (Poland) there is a considerable deposit in the form of a fragment of the amber-bearing delta of the hypothetical Eridan River (Figure 1), for which Fennoscandia was the source area.
This Delta - was developed in the ancient shallow Eocene Sea. From the lush forests of Fennoscandia, apart from rock material - boulders, gravels and sands - waters of the Eridan basin carried much softer resins often still stuck in tree trunks. The deposit on the Polish side, dating back to millions years ago, comparable with the biggest deposits in Sambia (Kaliningrad), was developed in the sea whose northern coast passed near Gdańsk. The western (Polish) part of the Gdańsk Delta was discovered in 1983 thanks to three drillings near the Chłapowo village. The presence of amber was confirmed in each of the research boreholes. The amber-bearing sediments in the area of Chlapowo village are located at the depth of 67.0-132.5 m. The average depth is 96.5 m. Tests of the drilling profiles from Chlapowo clearly indicate that this part of the Delta is a continuation of the Eastern (Russian) part in Sambia which has already been mined.
They differ in their depths of deposition; near Gdańsk and Karwia the deposit is located at the depth of approx. 90 - 120m, which for the time being, excludes the possibility of their mining.
Paleogene amber-bearing deposits from the central part of the Delta - after the formation of the Baltic Sea - were ultimately removed completely during the Ice Age and taken south by glaciers. Amber-bearing sand and clay sediment is also recognizable due to its content of glauconite which is formed in the marine environment. Although glauconite is a green mineral, with clay sediment, especially dry, it gives a bluish tint.
ON THE SOUTH COAST OF THE PALEOGENE SEA:
Succinite, equally suitable for working as that from the Baltic region, also accumulated in the Palaeogene sediments along the southern coast of the Eocene Sea.
There are at least two amber-bearing deltas known: the Parczewa delta in Poland and the Klesowa delta in the Volyn Polesye region in the Ukraine.
As in the Baltic Sea region, sediments with epidote indicate that the fossil resins come from Fennoscandia, the sediments with andalusite and tourmaline minerals indicate to the Ukrainian Shield as the area of origin of the amber found in Gorka Lubartowska, and in the Ukraine mine in Klesiv.
The Ukrainian amber (succinct) mined in Klesiv stretches even to the area of Belarus, near the Gatcza - Osowa town.
Central Germany is the area where succinite can be found in deposits younger than the deposits of amber in the area of the Baltic Sea or western Ukraine.
The amber deposit in Goitsche mine in Bitterfeld was formed in the sea bay in the area of the Thuringian basin at the turn of the Oligocene and Miocene.
In Goitzsche lignite mine near Bitterfeld, amber known as Saxon (or Bitterfeld) amber was discovered in 1974. In 1990, the strip mining was discontinued due to enormous dustiness of the surrounding areas. The mine was filled with water and underwater mining was started. The mine operated until 1993, afterwards, amber mining was discontinued due to economic reasons. The annual amber output reached 50 tons. The raw material from Goitzsche mine supplied the amber product factory in Damgarten (near Ribnitz), but in the times of the German Democratic Republic products did not have any labels certifying the raw material’s origin.
However, Bitterfeld amber was not found in such big lumps as the amber in the Baltic region or the Ukraine.
Relatively quick development of secondary varieties is typical for Bitterfeld amber and it consists in the change of colours from yellow to yellow-red.
Accumulation in the Pleistocene sediments - the greatest damage of the Paleogene deposit took place in the Quaternary, during ice age. Successive glaciations eroded older and older layers and transported them in the opposite direction. It seems that the greatest amber density can be found in the sediments of the youngest Baltic glaciation. Amber was transported by glaciers, rivers and glaciers and only rivers south to large parts of Europe. Amber transportation took place in two ways:
1. Entire packages of blue earth of intact structure were transported long distances in the form of the so-called floes embedded in the glacier:
- in Poland the floes have been found in Zielnowo near Grudziądz and in Możdżanów near Ustka. Large quantities of amber were found in Zielnowo near Grudziądz and it was the place where the raw material was mined in a small strip mine and single pieces of dimensions ranging from a few to 15 cm were found,
- also chronicles from the late eighteenth century mentioned the mines in Możdżanów. Amber was mined by means of approx. 122m deep mining shafts. However, the mine in Możdżanów did not withstand the competition from the developing mining industry in Sambia,
- deposits of amber in Ugoszcz, district of Bytów, were not sufficiently explored. In this place amber mining was developed to a large scale during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The mines existed for approx. 20 years. The depth of mining was 12- 15 m, and sometimes even 27.5m.
2. The second way of amber transportation was dispersed transportation sometimes as very well rounded amber pebbles in glacial tills, in water-glacial gravel, or as amber grains in Pleistocene sands.
Geologists call such amber pebbles, like rounded larger or smaller Scandinavian rock boulders, to be erratic boulders.
One of the places where amber accumulated were sandurs developing in front of a glacier, accumulated by waters flowing out of tunnels in the ice or under the ice. One of such sandur fans is the Kurpian sandur (in the middle Narew River basin) which, besides the fact that it gathered amber in its sediments, also influenced the today’s terrain, especially the development of the river network, which during the next epoch - the Holocene - took over the role of water-glacial courses and, washing the sandur deposits, it contributed to the segregation of chip material and rinsing out of amber nuggets as the lightest cobbles:
- extraction of amber in the Polish Kingdom was started in 1796 by count Wolgram de Voza in the Kurpian sandur in Wołkowe, making exploration in the surrounding woods.
- other areas rich in amber in the sediments “thrown” by glaciers or rivers flowing out of glaciers were the Tuchola Forest and the Kashubian Lakeland.
- in the basin of the Brda and Wda Rivers amber was found in very large quantities just below the ground surface or deeper, up to 6 m. Up to 200 persons worked in some amber mines during the years 1835 - 1865.
- in the Kashubian Lake District amber was mined as early as in the tenth century on the Amber Hill (105 m above sea level, today a nature reserve with an area of 5.03 ha) in gravel, sands and moraine clays in primitive strip mines. Remnants, in the form of craters with a diameter of up to 40 m and depth of 15 m, have remained to this day.
Photo - typical natural forms and varieties of the Baltic amber nuggets from the Paleogene deposit in Sambia: two flat surfaces can be seen (from the top and the bottom) as well as an outline of the third one that originally corresponded to level of liquid resin.
Amber on Holocene beaches
Next amber transferring - this time not only from the old Paleogene deposits, but also from Pleistocene glacial deposits - was related to the formation and development of the Baltic Sea as well as with the still ongoing process of coastline sedimentation. Undoubtedly, the earliest ones and the best known to people are the cases of finding amber on beaches, the most numerous after large storms.
That is why people who do not know much about the history of amber erroneously associate its origin with the young, less than 10,000 years old, Baltic Sea. Amber-bearing deposits come especially from the period of changes in the range of the Littorina Sea (transgression and afterwards regression) which preceded the current Baltic Sea. They are covered with dune deposits.
The richest, 8-meter thick layer with thin layers of peat (deposited some 7,000-4,300 years ago) can be found at the depth of 14 m. These are sands full of plant matter which, during undulation, helped to trap amber and prevented it from escaping. When a former beach started to be covered with dunes, amber was in special conditions (jewellery manufacturers try to imitate them using methods based on high temperature and pressure to obtain more interesting varieties than the original ones). Basked in hot sand, soaked in rain, amber assumed more intense secondary colours up to and including red. Whereas the surface was covered with a thick layer of weathered amber.
The oldest method of catching amber using a mesh mounted on long poles is still in use today. In 1990 and 1991 approx. 5 tons of amber were obtained during spring and autumn storms on beaches.
On the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, amber embedded in the Holocene sediments has been mined for many years (often illegally) by means of the hydro-hole method. Sand with amber and pieces of wood as well as other plant debris (organic detritus), pushed to the surface, form an alluvial fan where traps are placed to catch amber and detritus into the net. Rinsing with a salt solution usually takes place immediately, near the extraction area, in order to separate amber from solid. Exploitation of the Holocene deposits covers no more than 15-17% (approx. 30 tons) of the overall demand for raw material which in Poland in 1995 amounted to about 200 tons.
The history of amber extraction in significant quantities on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea at least since the times of the Rzucewo Culture (in the Neolithic age: 1700-2400 years before Christ) proves the fact that accumulations of this row material are renewable.
Unfortunately, we will never know what the actual amber resources were in the Baltic Sea because no documentation has ever been maintained concerning amber extraction.
Registration of the places where amber has been found for years, starting from the west: Wolin, Darłówek, Jarosławiec, Ustka, Władysławowo, Sobieszów and others, has suggested that they are mainly the abrasive sections of the coast today. The results of exploratory research conducted since 1970 in the coastal area indicate that about 236 tons of amber have been documented, 75% of which (= 177 tons) were the resources of "Wisloujscie". The deposits in Stegny and Sztutowo have been documented recently.
Amber in Holocene sediments in the area of the Baltic Sea is of industrial importance in Poland. That is why research must both meet the requirements to be met by basic research and direct the explorations expected by a great number of amber explorers.
THE RICHEST AMBER DEPOSITS KNOWN IN THE WORLD
UKRAINE – hundreds of armed police and armoured vehicles on the one hand - thousands of desperate people and amber mafia on the other.
Fighting for the right to amber extraction has last for months now In Volyn and the Ukrainian Polesye. Ukrainian authorities have not been able to successfully cope with illegal amber extraction for years now. Forests in the Volyn, Zhytomyr and Rivne regions are full of holes - traces left by amber explorers and they look as after a serious bombing, and nobody has even tried to estimate the costs of environmental damage.
The deteriorating economic situation has resulted in the fact that now we can speak about the invasion of illegal miners extracting amber. "Illegal mining is booming, it reaches industrial scale. The whole areas are controlled by gangs - from time to time there is a shooting between gangs and even local people. This region does not differ much from the occupied Donbas. This is the place where army should be brought into” - this is how information portal censor.net has described the situation in the Polesye forests.
Today the main directions of the illegal trade in the Ukrainian amber are the European Union countries, including Poland, but also China. The statistics of the Ukrainian customs services and militia show how great the scale of the amber black market is.
Only in August 2015 they took over more than 4 tons of illegally extracted amber. It has been estimated that in 2014 the amber mafia extracted 300 tons of this raw material at its value ranging from 600 to 8800 USD per kilogram (depending on the fraction - the larger lumps, the more expensive they are). Legal amber mining in Ukraine is only 1.6 tons. “Ukraine is the world leader in amber extraction and export” - but it is a secret because the state budget does not receive even a kopeck therefrom. Almost the entire amber mining in Ukraine is carried out illegally, the stone is smuggled without any payment of duties and taxes. The entire income is credited to accounts of criminal structures and uniformed services. At the same time the state enterprise engaged in amber mining “Ukrainian Amber” has reached a stage of bankruptcy. It is as if in Saudi Arabia nobody was aware of the fact that their country is a leader in the oil industry and all the raw material was illegally exported.
The diggers versus militia - the first clashes of illegal amber diggers with the militia took place last March in the area of Rowny. 200 illegal amber diggers fought with 40 militia officers trying to stop them. Seven policemen were beaten, several militia cars were destroyed. Afterwards it was only worse. Information about the clashes began to appear more and more frequently. Their scale increased as well.
At the end of September 2015, approximately one thousand officers from the Interior Ministry, Ukrainian Security Services, firefighters, National Guards, the Forest Service and community organizations were ordered to guard the public order. Militia officers from neighbouring areas came to provide support as well - the Volhynia Interior Ministry reported. Even armoured vehicles were dispatched against illegal amber diggers. In response enraged people blocked the international Kiev - Warsaw road.
Mobilization of the security forces did not improve the situation at all. Every day the media inform about next illegal diggers being arrested, whereas the numbers of detailed persons always amount to dozens and even hundreds of people. Only on 28 September 2015, 193 illegal amber diggers were arrested during a militia raid.
“In the forest massif of the Maniewitchewsk region the police surrounded about 2000 people who mined amber illegally” – the Ukrainian Interior Ministry informed in its official release. The diggers resisted and in response militia officers gave warning shots and detained some of the clashes’ participants.
Using the law to fight mafia - Amber fever began for good in autumn 2010. In September the Parliament changed the Amber Law resigning from amber recognition to be a semiprecious stone, and in December following the veto of the then President Viktor Yanukovych, the Parliament quashed the law. As a result amber extraction has been placed in a legal gap where all methods are allowed. Sometimes they speak about making amber extraction by private persons and companies legal, and sometimes about strengthening of the state’s control and monopoly.
In mid-June 2015, prime minister Arsenij Jaceniuk presented a plan of the authorities’ taking control over amber extraction and announced an act that would stop the illegal mining for good. At the same time the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources presented an outline of law changes that would allow private persons to mine amber. “We will enable the “Ukrainian Amber” enterprise to conclude agreements with the local people that will mine amber legally at the company’s order. This is how we will make this situation legal” - Ihor Szewczenko, the Minister of Ecology, announced. The law amendments announced have not been passed so far.
Amber is treasure -at the beginning of August 2015 - prime minister Arsenij Jaceniuk announced introduction of the state’s monopoly for amber mining as well as tight control of this sector. He informed about the plans to introduce an amber extraction license. In 2016 these changes are to generate over 1 billion hryvnias into the state’s budget.
Natalia Jaresko, the Minister of Finance, has calculated that the total state’s revenue from legalizing amber mining and gambling would amount to 5.5 billion hryvnia per year, i.e. approx. USD 230 million. Economist Ołeksandr Wowczenko presented even more beneficial conditions.
In his opinion, legal amber mining could generate from USD 300 million to 500 million a year for the government. Wowczenko has noted that the amber extraction at present comes mainly from two deposits of Volyn. Legalization and reasonable organization, by the state, of amber mining would allow to start extraction in the entire so called “sun belt” stretching from Volyn, up to the Poltava region in the central part of Ukraine.
This deposit’s resources have been estimated to amount to 2-10 thousand tons.
For the time being the pressure keeps increasing and the militia repressions do not stop the influx of people for whom illegal mining has become a good source of income. In August 2015, the average monthly wage decreased again by 3.4 per cent, whereas in the case of people working in agriculture, forestry and fisheries the decline in earnings has amounted to nearly 9 percent.
One kilogram of amber costs as much as the equivalent of several months or even many years of average earnings in the province. It is very difficult to convince these people to refrain from digging. Hundreds of new diggers should be expected instead.
CONCLUSION: The Ukrainian amber must be forgotten for a long time .....
The richest known and fully documented amber deposits and extracted amber deposits, estimated to amount to 80% of the entire world resources, are located in the Kaliningrad region (Russia). They are estimated at approx. 300,000 tons. At present also the biggest amber mines in the world are located in Yantarny - the areas around Kaliningrad in Russia).
It is an open pit mine, one of two located in the Sambia Peninsula, north of Kaliningrad.
The width of the pit ranges from 800 to 1500 m, it is 1,200 meters long and more than 50 meters deep. Around there are heaps of soil extracted that used to cover the amber deposits.
The Russians estimate that the deposit will be extracted for the next 90 years.
The amber deposits located in the area of Yantarny are defined as the biggest in the world. 80 percent of this raw material comes from this area. Industrial exploitation of the deposits here was started by the Prussians in mid 19th century, first by deep tunnels’ carving in the coastal cliffs.
Open-pit mining began in 1912. Before the war, German obtained 400-450 tons of amber a year here. In 1945 the Red Army took the mine over. Apparently the soldiers were using stored amber for fuel ...
Photo – amber mine in Yantarny – Kaliningrad, Russia.
The machines were either stolen or destructed, the abandoned pit was filled with water. In 1947 a big labour camp was set up in that mine where approx. 6 thousand prisoners worked. A year later mining was resumed. At that time the Russian obtained approx. 250 tons of amber a year, a bit more than half of the German output. After Stalin’s death the mine went under civilian control and in the 1960s a new extraction method was introduced consisting in washing amber with water away from the so called amber-bearing blue earth. This is when a new mine “Primorska” was established.
Russian geologists have located three huge deposits of amber in the Kaliningrad Region . The biggest ones can be found in Yantarny and Primorsk. Their size exceeds 300 thousand tons.
The greatest resources have been discovered in 8 local deposits the size of which can be bigger than in the two main ones. The richest amber deposit, lying at the depth of approx. 5 metres is on the Baltic beach, a few hundred metres away from Yantarny. The value of this amber is estimated at approx. $ 1 billion.
Kaliningrad Amber Factory - was established in the Soviet times, in 1947 on the basis of the German amber mine in the town of Palmniken (at present it is called: Yantarny).
This is the only and the largest enterprise in the world which is engaged in the industrial mining of amber.
It owns an open pit mine of amber which is about 3 km long and 2 km wide. Its greatest depth is approximately 55 meters. The soil in amber deposits is blue-green. The content of raw material in 1m3 ranges from 0.5 kg to 4.5 kg on average.
Until 2009 the Kaliningrad Amber Factory did not generate any income and was on the verge of bankruptcy. In June 2010 its debts amounted to about 94 million roubles. Only 12 people worked there at that time. The main reasons for the enterprise’s deficit were the theft of excavated amber, lack of control, poor work organization and sales. But a new management was appointed.
The former employees and security workers were dismissed. Incorruptible guards from St. Petersburg and other regions of Russia were employed. The situation started to improve. In 2011 the enterprise’s budget amounted to over 1 billion roubles.
However, there is still some unfavourable trend in the use of extracted raw material. At present its export is 15 times higher than the export of finished products. The company suffers from the lack of specialists qualified in amber processing. The biggest problem is in the case of fine raw material which there is no demand for despite its relatively low rates. There are over 200 tons of the fine amber stored in the company’s warehouses. As little as 500 tons of fine amber have been sold over a few last years. Out of 340 tons extracted a year, the big or medium lumps constitute only approx. 30%.
The other 200 tons is the so called “dead raw material”. It is purchased mainly by companies manufacturing amber varnish. It is also used for, among others, coating furniture, instruments, paintings, etc. Due to its strategic production and the losses it has suffered so far, the enterprise is constantly inspected both by regional and federal authorities. Only in 2012 it was inspected 37 times. Such wealth lying on the sand, or half a meter below the ground surface awakens emotions and the desire to easily and quickly become rich. According to the data of the FSB Region Management Board in the Kaliningrad Oblast, illegal amber extraction in this oblast amounts to approx. 100-150 tons a year or 40% of the legal amber extraction.
In 2012 the police in Kaliningrad arrested 427 persons in this region who dealt will illegal amber extraction.
The fines imposed on those people amounted to over 1,280,000 roubles. A few thousand kilograms of amber were taken over, as well as 100 water pumps and a dozen or so diggers. Approx. 130 tons of amber are illegally exported from Kaliningrad a year, mainly via Lithuania and the Russian border crossings with Poland. Lots of tons of this amber is processed by Polish specialists. Experts estimate that the value of the illegally obtained amber in Kaliningrad ranges from 240 to 600 million roubles. Hundreds of tons of stolen amber were taken away from the mine in Yantarny for many years. The mine’s workers did not really care about their wages. They “took” their wages by themselves.
Now it has finished. The incorruptible strange guards; three-fold system of personal control, cameras, light sensors, motion sensors and infra-red sensors; fences, 24h patrolling - all this things have “sealed” the mine and the company’s plant. Local people are not satisfied with the above. Over the last two years there have been several cases of fights and "wrangling" between the mine’s guards and local diggers, often armed. The governor of this region, at the same time the Prime Minister of the territorial government, Nikolai Tsukanov, wants to create 10-15 thousand new jobs in the amber extraction sector. That is why there have been prohibitive customs duties and levies imposed on export amounting to 25-30%. As little as 70 tons of amber a year are processed in Kaliningrad. Over 600 people are employed in amber processing works and this number keeps increasing.
Despite research carried out for 150 years, the mystery of the parent plant which the Baltic resin comes from has not been resolved so far. There are various suggestions. The prevailing view is that amber comes from the "Pinus succinifera" amber pine or from "Pseudolarix” golden larch. These trees grew to 40 meters in height. However, they no longer exist nowadays. Scientists estimate that deposits of amber in Yantarny were formed about 50 million years ago. The Kaliningrad Amber Factory runs an amber museum in Yantarny. The museum has gathered thousands of exhibits, both nuggets as well as the products of marvellous beauty. Particular attention is attracted by large pieces of amber which are up to 5 million years old. One of them, found in the second half of the 19th century, weighs over 12 kg. Over the last few centuries, there were more than 10 specimens of amber weighing more than 5 kg.
In 2010 an amber nugget weighing 2kg and 173 gram was extracted by the Kaliningrad Amber Factory.
It was named “Patriarch”. The Russian Amber Enterprise provided for almost 80 % of the world’s production. The decision to suspend export was associated with several essential factors. Firstly, the deposits mined so far in Yantarnoye have probably been were virtually exhausted. Secondly, in 2012 the law governing amber export in Russia was amended. The new law provides for penalties for illegal amber extraction. Earlier, only some small fines could be imposed. Today, according to the new legislation, illegal amber extraction is a crime. Consequently, the authorities are allowed to confiscate any equipment used for the illegal amber extraction.
The channels of illegal sale to Poland and Lithuania have been sealed as well. Thirdly, Russian authorities have decided to put the situation in the Enterprise in order. The Amber Enterprise in Yantarnoye is still a state-owned company, however, it has been excluded from management of one of the ministries and not it has been managed by a state-owned concern Rostek. The managers have been replaced as well.
Former head of the company has been accused of removing large sums of money earned from the sale of amber abroad. He is said to have turned a blind eye to the illegal export procedure. At present he wanted by the Russian authorities. He has been replaced by Michaił Zatsepin who spent some time to put the situation in the Enterprise in order. He was the one that had the major influence on blocking amber export. In fact Zatsepin plans to increase amber extraction in the Kaliningrad Amber Enterprise in the future. That is why some preparatory works have been done related to starting extraction of a new deposit located in the Palnikienskoj beach in Yantarnoye. However, it is not sue that the Kaliningrad Amber Enterprise will reach the same levels of mining and export as in the previous years. What is more, ecologists have warned that the new deposit may be exhausted as soon as after just six months of extraction. Should this be the case, one can assume that amber price will go up significantly. And this would definitely be a chance for Poland. There are quite significant amber deposits in Poland that have not been mined so far.
The time of abundance - the company from Yantarny recorded record breaking economic results during the decade of 1985 - 1995 as a result of the Soviet Union perestroika, and consequently its collapse. At that time the internal market of the Russian Federation and other former Soviet republics experienced a quickly rising inflation (at end of that period - hyperinflation) and that is why there was a perpetual demand for all types of goods offering at least the appearance of a more permanent investment. It is difficult to assess what differential rate the Enterprise used at the time (initially it was a state-owned company, and since 1993: Russkij Jantar- a limited liability company) on cheap allocations of the rationed gold, which was massively used to make jewellery with amber roasted in autoclaves. The sales price of such products could be dictated virtually without any restrictions, which provided the Enterprise with the comfort of profitability, independent of its management efficiency.
The time of transitions offered two more favourable circumstances for the Enterprise:
a. The possibility to access the very coast of the sea on the west coast of Sambia Pensinsula, previously protected by a fortified border system due to military reasons;
b. The right to export both the raw material and finished products without the necessity to go through state trading centers.
While continuing mining of the Palmnikenski deposit (named after a German name of the district -Palmnicken) started by the German, extraction of amber from a shallow (5 to 10 m below ground surface) a strip mine was started. The mine was called “Beach”. This mine and the “Primorska” mine, which was slightly neglected at that time and which was situated quite far from the coast (so only its name was associated with the sea) generated approx. 1000 tones.
This made the Enterprise quite prosperous despite the fact that its staff fact kept stealing part of the best quality output. Suddenly the best amber appeared all over the world, supplemented with some raw material extracted from illegal mines in other parts of the Sambia Peninsula. The moon landscape of thousands of holes --craters reached the boarders of the Kaliningrad airport.
Equally ostentatious was amber mining by the army in the blue earth outcrop on a cliff overlooking the north shore of Sambia. It is difficult to determine how much raw material was extracted in this way in the 1990s (because nothing was legal and documented), however, this should not be underestimated. However, recently the Russian administration has managed to cope with violations of the geological law and now the fields around Muromski have been levelled and cultivated just like in the area of other open pit mines. This year amber is extracted in two open pit mines: in the new part of the beach (it is to generate 110 tons) and in the “Primorska” big open pit mine (it is to generate 86 tons).
It is expected that the resources on the beach will be fully exhausted this year, this is where 2/3 of the output came from in the previous decade.
The prospect of output growth is associated with an improved use of the "Primorska” deposit. It will not be easy, because the amber-bearing layer lies at the depth of 50-60 m, and the ratio of cover thickness to the thickness of the amber-bearing layer is 9: 1, while on the beach it was about 2.5 to 3: 1. What is more, the content of amber in the blue soil in Primorska mine is by 37.5% smaller in each cubic metre than on the beach. That is why one has to be aware that the mining costs will be three times higher than they have been so far. According to the new management of this company (which is a state-owned company again) this Gordian knot can be untied by the intensification of control over the excavated material, and especially its thicker lumps, by a specially hired professional security company and by cooperation with the militia and other state service prosecuting theft and corruption. After last April, the data presented below and concerning the granulation of each tone of raw amber transferred to the warehouses come from April 2015, the ratio of larger lump share has clearly increased. And the price of 1 kg of large lumps is approx. a dozen times higher than the price of small lumps.
The new management board of the Amber Enterprise was also going to establish its agency or its own customs warehouse in Gdansk and offering greater legal supplies to Polish producers in order to eliminate the profitability of amber smuggling to Poland, especially amber coming from theft and illegal mining. This would surely not prevent the whole hitherto practice entirely, but this would reduce it significantly. Talks conducted regarding this issue with several biggest Polish companies during the “Ambermart” event last August seemed to be aiming at regulating the cooperation principles.
However, the negotiations conducted later in the seat of the Amber Enterprise revealed a conflict of interests of the Russian processing department being expanded beyond its present supply capacities, with establishment of equal conditions of access and sales pricing of the raw material for all the customers.
So one can do nothing else but reach for the abundant and unused resources of the Polish raw material ...
There is confusion and police orders in the Ukraine. .. Russia has suspended its amber export, it is possible that the easily accessible deposits may be exhausted. Since Russia suspended its amber export to Poland, this raw material has become even more popular due to the fact that over the last five years the price of amber has increased for PLN 1,000 to even PLN 40,000 per 1 kg. thousand This is the result of amber export’s suspension by Kaliningrad that was the market leader in this sector. And the situation in Ukraine contributed....
This is when problems of Polish jewellery manufacturers started as well. Local governments wanted to solve the manufacturers’ problems and started to issue permits to open mines in Poland. A great number of people and companies now look for amber independently. Geological studies carried out on the territory of the Republic of Poland near the Polish Baltic Sea coast (near Kaliningrad) have shown even larger - and currently not exploited - resources of this precious mineral near the town of Chlapowo. Although estimated at the level of 700 thousand tones, the resources of the Polish amber have not been exploited on an industrial scale so far. In the Polish part of the deposit, in the sections of three drillings the resources have been estimated at 643 820 tones, and in respective layers the presence of amber has been confirmed to range from 132 to 5976.79 g/m3.
- according to other tests and estimates, Polish resources of amber can exceed there even 700 thousand tones, the majority of which lies in the Kashuby region. The value of these deposits amounts to over PLN 7 trillion (USD 2 trillion).
To compare - it is over 1/6 of the GDP of the USA and over 4-times more than the Polish GDP.
- what is more, in 2012 the National Research Institute (PIG) estimated that in the other areas of Poland there are 10,118 tons of amber in four deposits......
Apart from the deposits in Chłapowo, there are four geologically documented (at the end of 2014) deposits of the total amber content (geological balance):
a. according to scientific elaborations, in the so called Parczewska Delta there are approx. 10 thousand tons of amber (in sediments of the Eocene delta)
b. win Gdańsk - 17 tons (secondary deposit in the quaternary sediment)
The record - 4.28 kg- this is the weight of the biggest amber extracted from the Baltic Sea.
The Baltic gold - this definition has never matched amber as much as it does now. Over the last five years the price of 1 kg of few-dozen-gram-lumps of amber has increased from PLN 1,000 to PLN 40,000 in larger fractions. Due to the problems encountered by jewellery producers in Poland the local governments have decided to act. More and more of local governments are considering opening of Polish mines.
Amber extraction licences can be issued by authorities of local provincial governments in agreement with the Ministry of Environment. The Marshal’s Office of the Lublin Province has already issued permits to two companies - from the region of Pomerania and from Podkarpacie. They are going to look for amber in the municipalities of region Parczew. What is more, efforts have also been made to set up an amber mine near Gdańsk. Poland is not rich in natural resources. That is why Poland will do its best do use what it has. The constantly growing price of amber on the world markets can encourage to start mining as soon as possible. The situation seems to be easier because in the case of amber there is no complex license system as in the case of other natural resources.
POLAND - AMBER MARKET - DEVELOPMENT SCENARIO
– the current market situation and forecast of its development.
The real amber boom started in the last dozen of months. In fact the price of amber kept going up over recent years, but its major increase has taken place only since lasy autumn (2014). This was connected mainly with the fact that one of the biggest amber suppliers - the Russian Amber Enterprise in Yantarnoje located in the Kaliningrad region, suspended amber export abroad. As a result amber price has increased up to almost PLN 35 thousand per 1 kg. However, the prices will continue to go up....
According to the estimates of the National Research Institute (PIG) , there are enormous amber resources in the Polish soil. The value of the Polish amber deposits can be higher than the value of the entire coal mined in Poland after the World War II (more than $ 2 trillion). Amber, i.e. fossilized resin from millions of years ago, is found in many places in the world, the Baltic amber is the best for jewellery production and it can be found on the southern shores of the Baltic Sea - from Denmark to Russia. Even the ancient Romans came to collect amber from this region and today amber jewellery products can be seen on markets all over the world. Recently we have heard a lot about amber due to the sudden increase in its price. Some representatives of the jewellery sector even claim that at present amber is more expensive than gold.
The most convincing argument in favour of starting amber extraction from the Polish deposits is its current price on the world’s markets. The price is so high that one gram of amber is sometimes more expensive than 1 gram of gold.
But in the case of Poland there is one more argument in favour of amber mining.
Poland is the biggest manufacturer of amber jewellery products in Europe. According to the data of the International Amber Association from 2013, the value of Polish jewellery with the use of amber can reach even as much as EUR 300- 400 million a year.
We export amber jewellery mainly to the EU member states, the USA and Canada. However, the importance of Asiatic countries, mainly China, as the purchasers of Polish amber products has systematically increased. We can also make investments and process amber in one place as well as develop the amber jewellery production. This will ensure a few times higher profits than the same of raw material itself. So there is something to fight for. The amber deposits mining is going to accelerate. This is a unique opportunity for Polish or external investors (e.g. from China) and they should take a full advantage of it. Because, as regards Polish law, amber extraction is much simpler than other raw materials’ mining.
After the years when customers from the USA and Europe prevailed, the importance of Asia has been increasing. Amber jewellery has been a Polish speciality for years. Poland’s share in world market of amber ornaments amounts to 70%.
The Ministry of Economy has informed that the total value of the jewellery export from Poland in 2014 amounted to approx. EUR 160 million, whereas in 2013 - to EUR 150.9 million. In the first half of 2015 export of such products amounted to EUR 137.60 million, i.e. 53 percent more than in the same period last year. However, according to the media, the value of a yearly export of amber jewellery is approx. USD 400 million.
Last year was a good period for amber.
A special promotional program facilitates the acquisition of foreign markets. Nevertheless, the problem of amber diggers is the limited access to this raw material. At present the price of raw amber ranges from approx. PLN 1700 per one kg of small pieces weighing less than half a gram up to even as much as PLN 40 000 for one kg of very good quality amber.
Amber prices can even be higher, but these are collectors’ rates. The situation has become difficult and the prices have gone up a lot when Russia imposed an embargo on amber export and there has been too little amber on the market. In March 2014 the rates of best quality amber amounted to the record-breaking PLN 50 thousand. The current prices are not as high as they were in spring 2014. They have decreased slightly recently.
Pursuant to the Geological and Mining Act, a licence shall not be required for searching and exploration of amber deposits - these works are performed on the basis of a design of geological works approved by the local government. License is required to extract amber. Geological documentation, decision on environmental conditions (determining how the investment will affect the environment) are required, among others, to obtain such a license. In a number of cases it is also required to amend the local spatial development plan taking these deposits’ exploitation into consideration.
Companies do not need a consent issued by the Ministry of the Environment - as it required in the case of other minerals.
It is sufficient when a company has obtained a permit of a competent head of the Marshal’s Office in the province where the given deposit is situated. In fact the interest in amber deposits in Poland has been increasing month after month.
There are also more and more companies willing to mine amber. In the area of the Lublin Province there are over a dozen of such companies and there are even more in Pomerania...
They want to rent plots of land from the local governments and order to identify deposits again and to proceed to amber mining.
Plots of land situated in the area of municipalities the Lublin Province are especially popular. As these are the places where the most valuable deposits, not identified so far in the Lublin Province, are said to be located. It looks similar in a few other places.
THE INVESTIGATED PRESENCE OF AMBER IN POLAND
- data of the National Research Institute (PIG).
It has been confirmed that amber in Poland can be found in Tertiary and Quaternary formations.
In situ amber is found in the sediments of the Eocene Sea coastal zones. The National Research Institute (PIG) has informed that well documented amber resources in Poland amount to 700,344 tones:
- That is, where the presence of amber was identified near the village of Chłapowo, in the area of the so called Chłapowo-Sambia Delta. Basic geological examinations have provided exceptionally optimistic assessments of the primary deposits only
- without even taking the accumulations transferred by glaciers into consideration. Polish drilling carried out near Chłapowo in the 1970s identified the deposit’s abundance to amount to 643,800 tons.
- out of which 56,504 tons are located in the Lublin Province, documented amber resources can be found in the area of Parczew delta. Here amber can be found in loam-sand sediments from the Tertiary period, at the depth of 20-30 m.
It is fragmented and the diameter of majority of nuggets is not bigger than 5-7 cm. In the southern zone of the Eocene Sea, in the area of Parczew, amber-tertiary sediments are deposited at the base of natural aggregate deposits of Górka Lubartowska. Only in this indicated area of 296.9 hectares amber resources have been estimated at 1,088 tons, with an average abundance of 376.8 g /m2.
- 30 tons - in the Pomerania region,
- what is more, amber is already extracted e.g. on a 10-hectare area in the Gdańsk’s Stogi. It is simiar in “our” Przeróbka.
- a few tons of amber are collected on beaches every year.
Amber occurrences have also been registered that can indicate to the presence of resources’ prospects (hypothetical resources), they are known in the following places:
- southwest of the town of Lidzbark Warminski (the Warmia-Mazury Province),
- in the area of the town of Kajkowo on the northwestern slope of the basin of the Morliny lake , south of Ostróda (the Warmia-Mazury Province),
- in the area of the town of Zielnowo near Grudziądz (the Warmia-Mazury Province),
- in the area of the town of Góra Puławska near Puławy (the Lublin Province),
The countries located within the so-called amber Baltic-Dnieper province, the world's only region where succinite, i.e. Baltic amber can be found, constitute a shared zone.
Poland is situated in the centre of this area whose borders go as follows:
- from the north along the Friedrichshafen line (North Jutland) - Liepaja in
Latvia to Gomel in Belarus
- to the west of the Frisian Islands to Saxony (Bitterfeld)
- to the east from Gomel along the Dnieper River to Dnepropetrovsk
- to the south of Bitterfeld via Cracow to the Bug estuary.
This location of deposits was caused by the land system in the Tertiary period in the centre of today's Europe.
At that time the biggest land was Fennoscandia which covered the entire present area of Scandinavia and the Baltic Sea.
The Eocene Sea stretched across today's northern Germany, Poland and Ukraine, and to the south of the Eocene Sea there was an island archipelago overgrown with "amber forest" just like Fennoscandia.
Amber was formed in deltas of rivers carrying resin trunks and solids of hardened resin to the sea. Sea water was an essential catalyst for resin fossilization.
The biggest delta of the river accumulating material from the entire Fennoscandia was formed in the area of today’s Gdańsk Bay and the areas east and west of the Gdańsk Bay.
Its material was largely redeposited as a result of tectonic movements and due to a glacial advance, and only its extreme parts at the east and west have been preserved.