Copper Riot
In 1654, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich decided to mint new money from copper: in addition to kopecks and half-kopecks, 4 million copper rubles were also issued
No one trusted copper money, so after four years, they gave 3 copper rubles for 2 silver rubles.
Four years later, one silver ruble was worth 8 copper rubles. The cunning tsar ordered that salaries be paid in copper, but taxes be collected in silver. The peasants ceased to bring their goods to the cities, and famine began. On July 25, 1662 riots broke out in Moscow, called the Copper Riot. The revolt was suppressed by Streltsy units. The rioters were brutally dealt with, but the instigators were never found.
Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. Drawing from The Tsar's Titular Book, 1672
Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich. Drawing from The Tsar’s Titular Book, 1672
In 1663, the copper yards in Novgorod and Pskov, where copper money was minted, were closed, the money itself was withdrawn out of circulation and melted down. By this time, 15 copper rubles were given for 1 silver ruble.
Copper ruble 1654
Copper ruble 1654
Copper ruble 1654
Copper ruble 1654
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
at the Kyshtym plant
In January 1912 one of the directors of the Kyshtym Works Company was the American mining engineer Herbert Hoover. Since 1908 he was engaged in technical re-equipment and organization of production at the plant.
Seventeen years later, Hoover would become the thirty-first president of the United States.
Future U.S. President Herbert Hoover in 1918
Future U.S. President Herbert Hoover in 1918
Herbert Hoover’s memoirs from the American Presidential Library say:
I came to this country [Russia] for six years before the outbreak of the First World War on long visits. The most interesting place for me was the Kyshtym estate, located near the Ural Mountains near Yekaterinburg.
Hoover remembered his years in Russia with unfailing warmth. He wrote about Kyshtym:
This place was a reflection of all of Russia, its microcosm.
Bronze Horseman
The most famous Russian copper object
The Bronze Horseman is a monument to Peter I on Senate Square in St. Petersburg, created by French sculptor Etienne Falconet and installed on August 18, 1782.
Pushkin called it copper, although in fact the sculpture is bronze, of which Pushkin, of course, knew. However, the word “bronze” sounded unethical at the time, it was “technical” (because bronze is a copper alloy), and the epithet “copper” in the poetic vocabulary of the time meant something lofty, glorious, eternal. The name given to the sculpture by Pushkin, so accurately characterized the monument itself and the personality of Peter I, that since then in Russian it is not called other than “Copper Horseman” (even on maps).
Bronze Horseman on google maps
Bronze Horseman on google maps

The project was worked on by

Author, Producer and Project Manager

Georgy Avanyan


Vladislav Kulakov


Elena Kuklina

author group

  • Viktor Kamenchenko
  • Dmitry Lipkin
  • Elena Matza
  • Sergey Shaulov


  • Alexandra Tertitskaya
  • Alsu Guzairova
  • Julia Baklanova

Scientific leader of the project
“How Dostoevsky Conquered the World”

Pavel Fokin

Film crew leader

Natalia Makarova

design and development

Pixeljam Studio

Art director

Alexander Grigoriev

Dmitry Udovichenko
Dmitry Orlov


Video “Man Marey” based on the story of the same name by F.M. Dostoevsky


Roman Chaliapin


Alexander Hunt

Filmed at F.M. Dostoyevsky’s memorial estate “Darovoye”.


Valeria Konyukhova

Dmitry Lvov was interviewed by

Petr Kamenchenko

The work on the project involved

Varvara Romanenko, Alexei Taranin, Viktor Koreshev, Georgy Kulikov, Natalia Bogoyavlenskaya, Anna Kravtsova, Maxim Makarov, Maxim Mikheev, Yuri Orlov, Elena Vasyova, Vladimir Derevyanko, Konstantin Batrakov, Vladimir Morozov, Yuri Podgorbunsky, Maxim Samborsky, Roman Malyshev, Andrei Sosnovsky, Andrei Tavolzhansky, Elena Fokina, Valeria Borscheva, Alexei Igoshev, Ilya Maskileyson, Egor Lisovoy, Nikolai Pigarev, Maxim Smirnov, Vladislav Ikonnikov, Vladimir Borisov, Yuri Grishin, Arthur Salihov, Mikhail Tatyanin

We thank Russian Copper Company for the filming possibility at Kyshtym Copper Electrolyte Plant, Karabash Copper Smelting Plant and Mikheevsky GOK

Illustrations have been provided:

  • Russian State Archives of Film and Photo Documents
  • State Museum of the History of Russian Literature. V.I. Dal
  • Russian Copper Company
  • Shutterstock

Russian Copper

Today’s world cannot do without copper. In computers, gadgets, electrical appliances, and other objects necessary for human life, many important elements are made of this metal. It cannot be replaced by any other material

Copper is one of the first metals that man learned to work

We encounter copper at every turn, but we don’t usually notice it, and we certainly don’t think about what it is and why the modern world as we know it exists largely because of copper.

People began using copper about 10,000 years ago. Copper is a very soft metal and can be forged cold, not melted in a furnace. The primitive man made various objects out of copper with only a stone axe.

In Greek and Roman mythology, copper is found quite often — Aphrodite and Venus were considered the patronesses of this metal. Both goddesses of beauty were depicted with mirrors, which in the ancient world were made of polished copper. There is a version that Venus of Milos held a copper mirror in one of the now non-existent hands.

Copper — eternal metal

The properties of copper that make it eternal
  1. Well machinable
  2. Easy to melt
  3. No rust
  4. Copper ore deposits are found all over the world
The main disadvantage of copper is its softness. In ancient times, copper tools and objects quickly blunted and lost their shape, so they were often remelted and used to make new tools and objects.

Up to 96% of the copper ever extracted by mankind is still in industrial use today. Smelting does not change the properties of copper.

If copper is not melted down, but simply buried in the ground, even after a thousand years it will look like new. The copper objects found in archaeological excavations are mostly preserved in their original form.

How man learned to smelt copper and what he made of it

How man learned to smelt copper and what he made of it

Copper Bronze Iron

The oldest copper products found in excavations were made about nine thousand years ago. The Copper Age lasted five thousand years — until people figured out that metals could be mixed in molten form. This is how bronze came into being, replacing pure copper and taking its place as mankind’s primary metal.
The Bronze Age ended in the first millennium BC when people learned how to mine, melt, and work iron. The Iron Age began (which continues today).
Bronze is also copper
Bronze consists of:
Corinthian bronze helmet. Fifth century BC.
Corinthian bronze helmet. Fifth century BC.
Bronze is much harder than copper; it was used to make swords, knives, arrow and spearheads, armor, tools, agricultural implements, and artistic articles. With the advent of iron the importance of bronze as a “strategic” metal came to naught.
Necklace of bronze bells. Persia, II millennium BC.
Necklace of bronze bells. Persia, II millennium BC.
Bronze holder with animal heads. Persia, II millennium BC.
Bronze holder with animal heads. Persia, II millennium BC.
Bronze bracelet. Persia, II millennium BC.
Bronze bracelet. Persia, II millennium BC.
Even with the advent of the Iron Age, many of mankind’s necessities, such as cannons, bells, and monuments, were still made of bronze. Bells and monuments are still made of bronze to this day.
Vairochan Buddha in Todai-ji Temple (cast in 751)
Vairochan Buddha in Todai-ji Temple (cast in 751)
About 600 tons of bronze were used to smelt the Vairochana cosmic Buddha from the Todai-ji Temple in the Japanese city of Nare. It is the largest bronze structure on Earth.
The bronze Tsar Cannon (cast in 1586) and its cannonballs in the Moscow Kremlin. Painted
                                photolithograph of the late 19th century
The bronze Tsar Cannon (cast in 1586) and its cannonballs in the Moscow Kremlin. Painted photolithograph of the late 19th century
The bronze Tsar Bell (cast in 1654) in the Moscow Kremlin. Drawing from the early 19th century
The bronze Tsar Bell (cast in 1654) in the Moscow Kremlin. Drawing from the early 19th century
Antique copper utensils
Antique copper utensils
Catherine copper nickel of 1791
Catherine copper nickel of 1791
Copper samovar, 19th century
Copper samovar, 19th century
Two kopecks, 1801, minted at the Yekaterinburg Mint
Two kopecks, 1801, minted at the Yekaterinburg Mint
Modern engraver at work
Modern engraver at work
“Portrait of the engraver N.I. Utkin”. V.A. Tropinin, 1824
“The Engraver at Work”. A. Yost, 1500s
An old ship with copper plating
An old ship with copper plating
Copper ship cladding
Copper ship cladding
Copper-clad bottom of the USS Constitution (built in 1832)
Copper-clad bottom of the USS Constitution (built in 1832)

After the advent of the Iron Age, many objects continued to be made of copper — it was a cheap, accessible and easy-to-machine metal.

Coins of the cheapest denomination were minted from copper. The word “coppers” still remains in Russian

Engravings were made on copper planks — until the end of the 19th century it was the only way to replicate images.

In the 18th century, copper plates began to cover the bottoms of ships.

Copper in the Urals

Copper ores were mined in the Urals back in the IV millennium B.C. Traces of ancient mining works, which are called “Chudskie mines” (from the name of the Chud tribe who lived in those places) — the most ancient ore mines of Bronze Age people in Russia — have been preserved. Copper ore and tin in the mines of that era were extracted in pits, pits and primitive mines.
“Beloretsk Plant in the 18th Century”. D.V. Petkov, 1940-50s
Copper riot
In 1654, Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich decided to mint new money from copper: in addition to kopecks and half-copecks, 4 million copper rubles were also issued.

In 1628 Bogdan Kolmogor, a blacksmith from Nevyansk stockaded town, found iron ore on the eastern slope of the Southern Urals. The first state iron works was built in 1631 on the river Nitsa. Copper ore was discovered in 1634 in Grigorovaya Mountain by “ore prospector” Alexander Tumashev, for which he received “forty sables and a silver ladle” from Tsar Mikhail Fedorovich. Later, the first large mining plant in Russia, the “forefather” of all the Ural plants, was also built there.

By 1750 Russia had been established:
factories at the iron mines
copper smelters
Carts of metal from the Urals were sent to Moscow. It took them six months to reach the capital.
Nevyansk Metallurgical Plant
Nevyansk Factory, view from the bell tower of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky Cathedral, 1900s
The most famous
Bronze Horseman
is located on Senate Square in St. Petersburg.

The oldest metallurgical enterprise in the Urals is the Voskresensky Copper Smelting Works, which opened on November 16, 1745 in the village of Voskresenskoye. It was one of the largest in the Urals, the remains of its walls have been preserved to this day. In October 1773, many of the factory workers joined the Pugachev uprising. Pugachevites managed to produce here a dozen and a half copper instruments, and in June 1774 burned the plant. It was restored only two years later. Smelting production at the Voskresensk factory ceased in 1895. For 150 years, it smelted 1.7 million poods of copper.


The Ural mining town of Kyshtym was founded in 1757 by the Russian industrialist Nikita Demidov. In the same year an iron works started operating in Kyshtym. By the end of the XVIII century Kyshtym became one of the centers of Russian metallurgy.
Kyshtym factory, old electrolysis workshop, 1925
Kyshtym factory, old electrolysis workshop, 1925
Workers of the electrolysis workshop of the Kyshtym Factory, 1925
Workers of the electrolysis workshop of the Kyshtym Factory, 1925
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
In January 1912, one of the directors of the Kyshtym Works Company was the American mining engineer Herbert Hoover.
In 1908 the plant was bought by the Scottish entrepreneur Leslie Urquhart. He converted the ironwork into copper electrolyte production. As a result, the Kyshtymsky plant was the first in Russia to produce pure copper.
Square with a fountain on the territory of the Kyshtym factory
Square with a fountain on the territory of the Kyshtym factory

Kyshtym. Photos by S.M. Prokudin- Gorsky

Sergey Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorsky, an outstanding Russian photographer, researcher, and inventor, first visited the Urals in 1909, when on behalf of Nicholas II he carried out a grandiose project to photograph the entire Russian Empire. He also took photographs of the town of Kyshtym and the Kyshtym plant in that year.

By order of the tsar, Prokudin-Gorsky was provided with a specially equipped railroad car, as well as a personal steamship and crew, and a Ford automobile for his travels around the country.



In 1910, not far from Kyshtym in the village of Karabash in one year was built Karabash copper smelter — one of the most advanced at that time in terms of technical equipment.
Workers at the construction of the Karabash copper smelter, 1910
Workers at the construction of the Karabash copper smelter, 1910
In one day the factory was melting
thousand poods of copper ore
In 1915, the plant smelted about
of all copper in Russia
“Panorama of the Karabash Copper Works”, 1911
“Karabash Concentrator. Shift of T. Kotov M.M.”, 1947.
Karabash Copper Smelting Plant, 1960s
Karabash Copper Smelting Plant, 1960s

Copper renaissance

The discovery of electric current in the 19th century revived interest in copper. Only this metal had the properties necessary for use in electrical devices: it was an excellent conductor, easy to work with, not prone to corrosion, and cheap.

In 1831, the English physicist Michael Faraday created the “electrodynamo,” the world’s first generator of electricity. The construction of the device was quite simple: a magnet moved inside a coil of copper wire. Thanks to electromagnetic induction, discovered by Faraday shortly before, an electric current began to flow in the coil. Electricity could now be generated and transmitted through copper wires for use in factories, factories and workshops, to light houses and streets. A new phase of the industrial revolution had begun.

Copper was once again a strategic metal, and mining and refining it became an important industry. Electrical appliances were becoming more and more numerous, and every one of them consisted to a large extent of copper.

The purer the copper, the fewer impurities it contains, the better it conducts electric current. The technology for producing pure copper has been changing and improving for almost a hundred years, finally taking shape by the mid-1930s. This technology is still in use today almost unchanged.

How copper is made

Copper ore is extracted by open-pit mining. A borehole is drilled at the copper ore deposit, then blasting works are performed, as a result of which the layer of ore is crushed into pieces. The copper ore is then loaded into dump trucks and sent to a concentrator.
Copper concentrate
Copper concentrate
First the large pieces of ore are crushed in special machines and then crushed in mills. The powdered ore, mixed with water, enters a flotation machine, where it is mixed with reagents. In the resulting suspension, gas bubbles form to which the copper-rich rock particles “stick”. The rock then enters special settling tanks, where it is separated from the excess moisture. From the resulting mass, a copper concentrate is prepared that contains from 15 to 22% copper.
Blister copper
Blister copper

Copper concentrate, fluxes (special substances that are added to ore to lower the melting temperature and make it easier to separate the metal from the waste rock) and lime make up the charge — a mixture that is loaded into the furnace. The smelter processes the mixture at a temperature of 1180 °C.

The molten mixture enters a chute into a mixer furnace, where it is separated into slag (a byproduct of smelting) and matte (copper-rich melt). The matte, containing 50-55% copper, is poured into ladles and sent to a converter, where blister copper is produced by oxidizing impurities. Blister copper is used to cast ingots — “pigs”.

Anode copper
Anode copper
Pieces containing about 99.08% copper are loaded into anode furnaces and smelted at 1,200 °C. By means of fire refining technology, residual sulfur, zinc and lead are removed from the blister copper. The resulting anode (refined) copper contains up to 99.5% pure copper. Special copper plates — anodes — are melted from the refined copper.
Cathode copper
Cathode copper
Copper anodes and stainless steel matrices (cathodes) are immersed in baths of electrolyte. Under the influence of an electric current, the copper atoms leave the anodes and are deposited on the cathodes — this process is called electrolysis. The cathode sludge contains 99.997 percent copper. Another sludge remains at the bottom of the bathtub, from which the precious metals gold and silver are then extracted in the refining department.

This is how copper is made

Grinding of copper ore in ball mills at the concentrator
Copper ore enrichment by flotation
Pouring blister copper into the mixer furnace
Cooling of blister copper ingots
Loading the copper smelting furnace
Anode copper pouring, anode cooling and transportation
Mechanical dressing of anodes at the casting complex
Electrolytic refining of copper in electrolysis baths, separation of cathodes from matrices, packaging and transportation of cathodes

Copper forever

Wherever electricity is used, copper is essential; it is the best conductor of electric current. All wires, all cables, all tracks on the circuit boards of every electronic device in the world are made of copper.

All electric motors in the world spin because copper is used in their construction.

Light bulbs in all the houses of the world burn because they have copper wires attached to them.

When electric cars displace gasoline-powered vehicles, which may happen soon enough, the importance of copper will increase even more, because each electric car contains up to 100 kilograms of copper.

Copper itself is not threatened — there is nothing to replace it. It is still an eternal metal.

Next story
About the village


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