Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

A Russian ship carrying 700 tons of gold is missing off Russia’s eastern coast.

A Russian ship carrying 700 tons of gold is missing off Russia’s eastern coast.

The dry-cargo freighter Amurskaya, operated by a company based in Nikolayevsk-on-Amur, went missing in the Okhotsk sea on Sunday. It had a nine-member crew on board, local prosecutors who are checking the case said in a statement.

The ore came from Polymetal’s Avlayakan mine and was supposed to be delivered to its Hakanja processing plant, the company said in an emailed comment. It declined to give further details. At current gold prices , the 700 tonnes of gold ore may cost around $230,000, analyst Sergey Donskoy at Societe Generale said. Each tonne of ore out of the Avlayakan mine contains about 6 grammes of gold.

If this was a movie, the ship is right now hidden in an underground lair somewhere, being offloaded as engineers work to disguise it.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • There’s a pretty big difference between 700 tons of gold and 700 tons of gold ore.

  • The $230,000 figure cited is the approximate value of the refined gold at current prices (~$55,000/kg). I’m not familiar with gold ore smelting, but unless the pirates already have an operation going, or are going to fence the ore to someone who does, it hardly seems worth the trouble.

  • Chris L

    True, but it does sound like the beginning of a typical Clive Cussler novel.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *