This report was originally published for the Visions of Azerbaijan magazine.
Foreign companies and entrepreneurs rushed to the Caucasus in the late 19th century, a result of tsarist Russia’s attempts to modernize and industrialize the whole empire. The enterprises did not necessarily intend to exploit natural resources, but when they saw the promising, unexplored opportunities, resource extraction was the obvious way to go. One such enterprise was Siemens & Halske AG, founded in Germany in 1847 by Werner von Siemens and Johann Georg Halske.
The Siemens brothers came across the copper mine in Gedabey at almost the same time as the Nobel brothers got involved in the oil industry in Baku. Siemens & Halske AG had won a contract to build and maintain the telegraph lines in Russia, including the Caucasus, in the 1850s and 60s. During this period, Walter von Siemens spotted the lucrative business opportunity in Gedabey and convinced his older brothers, Carl and Werner, to invest in it.