Why Hazret Sovmen donated tens of millions to science
Khazret Sovmen, former head of the Republic of Adygeya, has allocated personal funds for 62 grants for young scientists of the St. Petersburg Mining University. What kind of research will this money be used for and why would the well-known philanthropist, the founder of one of the world's largest mining companies, Polyus, finance university science?
Sixty subsidies are aimed at encouraging research in such fields as geophysics, oil production, petrochemistry, rare-earth metals, engineering, economics, and reducing the technogenic influence on the environment. Another two are for innovations related to hydrocarbon production on the Arctic shelf. In particular, to improve drilling muds required in the construction of wells and to increase oil and gas recovery.
Khazret Sovmen himself explains the decision to allocate grants with a motto that has guided him throughout his life:
"When we stop investing our energies into the young generation then perhaps our work on this earth will be over."
This is the philosophy of a man who knows firsthand how to create a successful enterprise practically from scratch and provide jobs for tens of thousands of specialists. The attraction of talented highly educated young people, scientific support of projects, and professional attitude to their work - these are prerequisites, without which it is impossible to achieve any significant results.
Khazret Sovmen was born in 1937 in the Republic of Adygeya. He served in the Crimea, in the Air Defense Forces. After his demobilization, in early 1961, he left for the Northeast. In the village of Ayan, Khabarovsk Territory, Hazret worked as a department head in the administration of the Ayan-Maysk District. From 1963 to 1965, he worked at the Magadan auto depot, first as a driver on the Kolyma Highway, then as a division head.
He’s been iIn the gold mining industry since 1965. He started out as a prospector in the Expeditionary artel (Gorny mine). In 1966 the management of "Severovostokzoloto" entrusted Khazret Sovmen to organize a new collective for placer gold mining in Chukotka. This is how Voskhod artel was created, which operated in the region of the Bolshaya Baranikha River.
In 1980, on the recommendation of Peter Lomako, Minister of Non-Ferrous Metals Industry, the legendary polar gold miner was called to head the placer gold mining at Severnaya Zemlya (Bolshevik Island), in the Arctic zone of Krasnoyarsk Krai. Since 1980 Khazret Sovmen headed artel "Polyus" and after transformation of this structure in CJSC "Gold Mining Company "Polyus" took a post of its president.
Mr. Sovma 's enterprise developed the largest gold ore deposit at Olimpiada. It used the latest bioleaching technology and achieved the world's highest percentage of gold extraction from refractory ores. In the beginning this artel of miners was a small enterprise, but today, according to PwC experts, it ranks 16th in the world in terms of capitalization among mining corporations.
After his election as president of the Republic of Adygea in 2002, Mr. Sovmen left the gold mining industry by law. In the same year he founded a charitable foundation, which in its eighteen years of existence has provided more than half a billion rubles in aid to hospitals, clinics, societies of veterans and invalids, orphanages, children from military families, whose fathers were killed in hot spots. Among those to whom sponsorship funds are allocated, naturally, are also higher educational institutions located, among others, in Kuban and Adygea.
Mr. Sovmen also supports St. Petersburg Mining University, his alma mater. Here he defended his thesis on the innovative development of the gold mining industry.
“We should not wait, but work, no one will feed us and protect us. And without science, there is nothing to do in mining. I know this from my own experience. I earn not for myself, but to help develop science, through science to develop my country - Russia, my home, my countrymen and our Mining University," explained Khazret Sovmen’s motivation to support young scientists Evgeny Kozlovsky, former Minister of Geology of the USSR.
Vladimir Litvinenko, the rector of Russia’s oldest technical university, says he is proud of his personal friendship with the founder of Polyus. After all, this man, who was born in a small village and started his career as a worker, achieved success solely due to his talents and abilities - charisma, courage, and diligence. He introduced a strict discipline among the miners, a dry law. At the same time, he set the highest salary in the industry, built comfortable houses, a club, a gym, a swimming pool for employees and their families, paid for airplane tickets during vacations.
His position on the continuity of generations, the need to raise young staff, to deal with their education and upbringing deserves special attention. And not only in production but also among scientists.
“Higher education science is the cornerstone of the overall scientific development of the country. Without it, innovative breakthroughs are impossible, the country is doomed to be thrown to the ‘technological margins’. Especially when industry companies, guided by short-term interests, are not motivated to support it. And the state, despite all its declarations, is in no hurry to make this area a priority, which causes serious problems with its underfunding. Not only in Russia. And not just today,” said Vladimir Litvinenko.
He reminded that without Lorenzo de' Medici (head of the Republic of Florence during the Renaissance, the patron of sciences and arts) the world would have known nothing about Leonardo da Vinci. Without Alexei and Cyril Razumovsky, there would be no such scientist in our history as Mikhail Lomonosov, and most importantly, there would be none of his discoveries. Without Ernest Rutherford (who helped to build and equip a special laboratory for the Russian scientist in Cambridge), Peter Kapitsa would hardly have become a Nobel laureate. The philanthropy movement is now associated with names like Warren Buffett and the Gates Foundation, which donate billions of dollars to applied science in the United States and American higher education.
“It's encouraging that we have people like that. I am proud of my friendship with one of them. This is Khazret Medzhidovich Sovmen. He entered the Guinness Book of Records as the man who put into practice the technology of bacterial leaching of gold from refractory ores in the conditions of the Far North. At the Mining Institute, he defended his dissertation on the topic of effective innovative activities of gold mining enterprises. Combining both the talent of a brilliant production organizer and the inquisitive nature of a scientist, he is one of the few Russian intellectuals today who understands how important it is to support a young researcher at the beginning of his career. And how necessary it is for the country," emphasized the Rector of Mining University.
What exactly do representatives of the university do with the grants of Khazret Sovmen? For example, Vadim Fetisov, an assistant of the Department of Transport and Storage of Oil and Gas, is conducting research aimed at reducing CO2 emissions when loading hydrocarbons into tankers. At the first stage, together with his foreign colleague Amir Muhammadi, professor of Kwazal-Natal University from South Africa, assessed the volume of emissions of pollutants into the atmosphere that occurs during this process. And now he is working on an oil vapor recovery system designed to capture it. In particular, he is calculating the economic efficiency of such a system.
Valentin Morenov, an assistant professor at the Department of Oil and Gas Fields Development and Operation, is working on another, and even more urgent task for environmental well-being: to improve the technology of associated petroleum gas (APG) utilization for hydrocarbon fields located in the Arctic region. Today, according to Global Gas Flaring Reduction, over 30% of all associated petroleum gas (this is a by-product of oil production) is flared above the wells in our country annually, which amounts to over 20 billion cubic meters (worldwide this figure exceeds 150 billion m3). Such a conjuncture leads to the emission of significant amounts of CO2 and other harmful substances into the atmosphere.
The scientist’s innovation assumes the creation of a system, in which associated petroleum gas is captured and used first of all for power generation. And its remaining volume is sent to the GTC unit, where APG is transformed into synthesis gas and then into liquid synthetic hydrocarbons - motor fuel or petroleum solvents.
“The simulation results show that this complex can be successfully integrated into the oilfield infrastructure, while reducing the carbon footprint of the produced oil by 24%,” specified Valentin Morenov.
The grants allocated by Khazret Sovmen will allow him and other scientists of Mining University to continue working on their scientific projects and give them an additional impetus. In most cases, it is not about fundamental research, but about applied scientific studies aimed at improving the efficiency of the mineral complex. And, as a consequence, the intensification of socio-economic development of Russia.
The potential of the industry is colossal, and today’s young people are simply obliged to unlock it. In our country, for example, the oil recovery factor (ORF) is unacceptably low - less than 30% (that is, more than 70% of the undeveloped resource remains in our bowels). If we were to increase it by at least 1% on average for all fields, it would make it possible to get 20-25 billion dollars in additional revenues annually. Of course, this is possible only in case of closer integration of science and business. Or thanks to donations from patrons of the arts. Such as Khazret M. Sovmen, whose philosophy of life is “zeal for the affairs of the Motherland and love for its benefit.”