The underground pantry stores variety of stuff

Any national economy depends on raw material recourses. In Belarus geological exploration works on subsurface resources investigation and fossil fuels deposits retrieval have been constantly conducted. Our reporter asked Viktor Ilyin, the deputy director of the Belarusian Scientific Research Institute for Geological Survey, Candidate of Science, for assistance in exploring the republic’s underground pantry
Any national economy depends on raw material recourses. In Belarus geological exploration works on subsurface resources investigation and fossil fuels deposits retrieval have been constantly conducted. Our reporter asked Viktor Ilyin, the deputy director of the Belarusian Scientific Research Institute for Geological Survey, Candidate of Science, for assistance in exploring the republic’s underground pantry.

— Fuel and energy being the priority in our republic, why do we still produce far less oil than we used to, say, in 1960s?

— Right you are, at that time annual oil production exceeded that of nowadays. Big oil deposits at the territory of the republic have not been explored, and black gold reserves growth appears to be less than 300 thousand tons a year. That’s why nowadays only nearly 1.8 million tons of oil is produced annually. All activities related to oil fields retrieval and exploration need huge amounts of money; needed equipment has to be supplied from abroad.

One of the recent events in the sphere of fuel and energy that is worth mentioning is the results of the deep exploration drilling expedition in Mozyr. Petroleum technicians got positive results concerning black gold influx at Korenevskaya pool that was discovered in 2005 in Pripyat pocket.

— In due time discovery of potassium salt fields at the territory of the republic was considered a phenomenal achievement...

— Production Amalgamation “Belaruskali”, founded on the buds of the Starobin deposit is one of the world’s biggest producers of potash mineral fertilizers. Range of coverage predetermines its stable operation on a long-term perspective. There are four mine groups; the fifth one is in the process of construction. No doubt it would be easier if our republic produced its own mining equipment. And at the moment we have to import the equipment from abroad.

It’s curious that as far back as during the Great Patriotic War at the territory of Ural there were cases of carrying out a pilot experiment on development of potash-magnesium salts applying the method of underground dissolving through mining holes. What prospects do we have? Last year the Republican Unitary Enterprise “Belgeologia” set about to researches on estimation of applying the above method to development of potash-magnesium salts — carnallite — at the territory of Luban deposit of the Pripyat pocket. At the moment an exploration borehole is stripped down, geophysical activities are carried out to analyse geologic cross-section. We plan to conduct a range of laboratory experiments on carnallite dissolving.

I should also mention that our country possesses vast amounts of rock salt: it can fully satisfy its need in sodium chloride.

— In our country one can buy a variety of mineral waters of domestic producers. Can this achievement be as well ascribed to explorationists?

—Due to its geographical position Belarus has an enormous reserve of nonsaline drinkable subsurface and mineral waters of different kinds. Mineral water is used both for drinking and in balneology. We have the objective of extending export supplies of butilated water, and at this point we have to take into consideration international standards. This means that production of water must be performed with a high degree of accurateness in order not to damage its composition. A program on rational utilization of water resources is in the process of development.

— The Republic does its best to supply enough iron. Is there any progress in geologic exploration in this field?

— We can only talk about prerequisites of iron-ore production development in Belarus. We have already conducted preliminary explorations in Stolbtsy district and moved on to Korelichi district. The results are quite encouraging. The above deposits have composite structure; apart from iron they contain other elements. Our country is most likely to have its own iron-ore reserve.

— What about the results of diamond prospecting?

— Diamond prospecting activities in Belarus have been conducted for a number of years. We have not found any deposits of diamonds yet, but researches will go on and we don’t close out such a possibility. To better understand the accomplishments in this sphere, in the year 2005 we conducted an international scientific conference where top specialists from Russia and Ukraine took part. The decisions passed at the conference are often considered during exploration activities. By the way in addition to fine diamond crystals tune stones contain ruby what increase validity of exploration.

— Has hypothesis that Belarus has gold vein met expectations? There were a lot of rumors...

— Belarusian geologists have carried out some exploration surveys to develop gold deposits. The results are far from being colossal. But exploration activities have not been completely stopped especially in connection with iron-ore exploration.

— And finally, geologist trade — is it difficult and specific?

— Our profession stands out among others. Why? One can for instance model some unit of a car or a ship, but to look deep into the ground where there is something useful for the national economy is really difficult and costly. This is a labour-consuming profession. Here, in the sphere of geology it can take 10–20 years to implement an idea. But still the profession is full of romance and attracts a great deal of people...

Vladimir Doroshevich
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