Mineral resources managment in Russia during last 100 years
During the last century, mineral resources that were extracted from Earth's interior have exceeded all that was mined during all the history of humankind. In XX century Russia, mainly during the formation and development of Soviet Union, performed an enormous leap in developing its mineral resources potential and their practical use. By the second half of XX century, Russian Geological Service has provided the required growth of all shown reserves of mineral resources. The mining of these resources fulfilled the needs of a country in all kinds of minerals. The scale of mining, in spite of abrupt decreases during 1914–1922 and 1941–1945, was increasing till the second half of 1980-s. After that time, a decline, caused by the social-economic crisis due to economical reformations, has started.
Based on preliminary estimations, the following mineral resources have been mined by Soviet Union, during the last century:
peat – about 2 billion tons,
coal – more than 17 billion tons,
shale – up to 1 billion tons,
oil – about 15 billion tons,
gas – more than 13 trillion m3,
iron ore – at least 4 billion tons,
manganese ore – more than 120 million tons,
chromium ore – more than 100 million tons,
copper, lead and zinc – more than 30 million tons,
rare metals and rare elements – on the order of dozens and hundreds thousand tons.
The total production of non-ore mineral resources and construction materials is measured in trillion tons, artesian water – on the order of hundreds billions cubic meters.
New industrial fields, such as automobile industry, plane and space industries, modern communication industries etc., have appeared in the XX century. These new fields required the increase in production of mineral resources. The developing industries such as fuel-energy, metallurgy, etc., and especially fast developing engineering, agrochemical, construction materials etc. also required the increasing amounts of mineral resources. The advances of science and technology stimulated the increase in mining activities. In fact, practically all elements of D.I. Mendeleev's Periodic Table (comparing to just 10–15 that were previously used), including artificially created trans-uranium elements, were involved in the industrial growth.
Russian mining industry was poorly developed at the end of XIX century, and Russia entered the XXth century having rather limited amount of produced mineral-resource stock. Of non-ore mineral resources, Russia possessed large amounts of sodium chloride, asbestos and a certain local construction materials (brick clay, limestone). All other kinds of mineral resources were imported. In spite of the fact, that the year 1913 was considered the most favorable year in Russian history, by the beginning of WWI Russia was completely unprepared to war. This led to severe defeats in the battles. Catastrophic situation was observed with non-ferrous and rare metals, only copper, lead and zinc were produced in small quantities. Aluminum was lacking not only for aviation, but also to produce soldier pots, so it was imported. All rare metals (strontium for signal rockets, tin etc.), used by military industry were also imported. Even bentonite clay for purifying lubricants was of foreign origin.
One of the reason for defeats of Russian Army in the war with Germany was poor development of mining industry, leading to the collapse in 1917. Then the Civil War and intervention followed, which blockaded the country from the west, south-west, north-west and from the Far East. As a result, the complete collapse of Russian economy has happened. The coal mining decreased from 29 to 8,7 mln. tons, including Donbass – down to 4,5 mln. tons (1920). Oil extraction decreased from 9 to less than 4 mln. tons. The production of iron ore has decreased to zero level. Only 164 thousand tons of crude iron (1920) and 200 thousand tons of copper (1919) were produced. The production of lead, zinc and mercury was completely stopped. The cement factories ceased working. Railroad transport was using firewood as energy source.
After the war, the recovering period (1922–1927) started with bailing of flooded mines of Donbass and recovery of mines of previously developed ore fields in Ural. During relatively short period, the pre-war production level for three main types of minerals – coal, oil and iron ore was reached.
Simultaneously, the intense works were carried out to explore the new mineral resources of the country, providing the basis for further developing works. The accelerated field work and simultaneous industrial development of the discovered mineral deposits were performed. As a result of such intense exploration of mineral resources, numerous new deposits were discovered and developed.
By 1927, the country restored its pre-war level of the economy. By the beginning of
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