Mining and Chemical Industry

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mining and Chemical Industry


a group of enterprises engaged in the extraction, concentration, and primary processing of apatite and phosphorite ores, natural potassium salts, and ores containing sulfur, boron, arsenic, barium, and barite, as well as the production of iodine and bromine.

The economic significance of the mining and chemical industry in the USSR was particularly enhanced by the rapid development of mineral fertilizer production. The mining and chemical industry accounts for 26 percent of the chemical industry’s raw materials balance and 100 percent of the production of phosphate raw materials and potassium fertilizer. According to data of the interbrand balance for 1966, the chemical industry accounted for 66 percent, and agriculture 20 percent, of the industry’s total ready products supply to the sphere of production. The remaining 14 percent was made up by the metallurgical, woodworking, and building-materials industries.

The USSR’s mining and chemical industry was created after the establishment of Soviet power. In spite of huge potential reserves, the extraction and processing of mining and chemical raw materials in prerevolutionary Russia were virtually nonexistent. The needs of the chemical industry at that time were filled by imports of phosphorites, potassium salts, sulfur, and pyrites.

The search for raw materials for the chemical industry was intensified during the early years of Soviet power. The world’s largest deposit of apatite-nepheline ores, which are used in the production of phosphate fertilizers, aluminum, soda, and cement, was discovered on the Kola Peninsula in the 1920’s. The Apatit Combine, which began the production of apatite concentrate with a P205 content of 39.4 percent, was built there in 1931. This marked the end of the importation of phosphorite and simultaneously opened the possibility of exporting apatite concentrate. The combine’s production of apatite concentrate (100 percent P205) was 370,000 tons in 1940, 1,360,000 tons in 1953, and 4,426,000 tons in 1970. The second largest region of phosphorite deposits is the Karatau basin (Kazakh SSR) which has a P205 content of 23–30 percent in commercial ore; the Karatau Mining and Chemical Combine was built there. The combine produced 339,000 tons of phosphate fertilizer (calculated on the basis of a concentrate with a 19 percent P205 content) in 1965 and 512,000 tons in 1968. Deposits of phosphate raw materials exist in Siberia, the Ukraine, and other regions of the USSR. Large-scale production of phosphorite powder (approximately 5 million tons annually), which is used in agriculture as a fertilizer and partly for the production of double superphosphate, has been started at the site of phosphorite deposits at Egor’evsk (Moscow Oblast), Kingisepp (Leningrad Oblast), Viatka-Kama (Kirov Oblast), and Polpino (Briansk Oblast). In the late 1960’s the USSR ranked second in terms of the world’s explored reserves of phosphate raw materials. The chief obstacles in the production of phosphate fertilizers are the development of the technology for the concentration of nodule phosphorites and the production of double superphosphate from phosphorites by the extractive method.

Potassium salts are a major raw material. The largest potassium deposit, with a KC1 content of 24–40 percent and higher, was discovered in 1925 in the area of the upper Kama River in the Northern Urals. Deposits of potassium salts exist in the Ukraine, Byelorussia, Kazakhstan, and Middle Asia. In 1968 the USSR accounted for approximately onefourth of the world’s explored reserves of potassium salts. In 1970 the Solikamsk and two Berezniki potassium combines were in operation at the Verkhniaia Kama deposit, and three Soligorsk combines were working the Starobin deposit (Byelorussian SSR). The Stebnik Potassium Combine and the Kalush Chemical and Metallurgical Combine were built in the Western Ukraine at the source of potassium sulfate deposits. Potassium fertilizer production in the USSR (in terms of 100 percent K20) was 1,048,000 tons in 1960, 2,300,000 tons in 1965, and 4,121,000 tons in 1970. The main trends in technological progress in the potassium industry are the utilization of powerful stoping machines and loading and hauling machines, the manufacture of granular and coarsegrained products, and the transition to underground leaching of deep-lying strata.

Natural sulfur is an important raw material for agriculture, chemicals, and other branches of industry. The production of native sulfur in the USSR was set up during the early five-year plans at the deposits at Shorsu (Uzbek SSR) and Karakumy and Gaurdak (Turkmen SSR) and later Vodinsk (Kuibyshev Oblast). The natural sulfur industry became a major branch after the discovery and development of the Rozdol deposit (L’vov Oblast) during the postwar years. Steps are being taken at a number of deposits for the introduction of underground sulfur melting.

Natural sodium sulfate is also a valuable chemical raw material. The reserves in the Kara-Bogaz-Gol Gulf of the Caspian Sea, the largest sodium sulfate deposit in the world, are estimated to total billions of tons. The USSR also has reserves of other types of mining and chemical raw materials (borates, datolite, arsenic, iodine, and bromine), and the facilities necessary for meeting their requirements have been established.

The mining and chemical industry is characterized by high labor and fixed capital consumption. As of Jan. 1, 1969, wages totaled 35.4 percent of the expenditures for the production of means of production, and depreciation accounted for 18.8 percent (as against 16.1 and 9.3 percent, respectively, for the entire chemical industry). Among fixed capital assets, structures (35.7 percent) are predominant. Expenses for future periods make up a large proportion of the circulating funds.

The mining and chemical industry has introduced combination on a broad scale, at first on the basis of the consecutive stages of raw-material processing (the extraction of ore and its concentration and preparation for production); later, this form of combination developed into a higher form based on the integrated utilization of raw materials.

Among other socialist countries, the German Democratic Republic has large reserves of potassium salts; it is a major producer of this product. Large reserves of natural sulfur have been discovered in Poland, where high-quality sulfur is being recovered.

The total reserves of potassium salt in the capitalist countries at the beginning of 1968 were 28,980,000,000 tons of K20, including 11,019,000,000 actual and probable tons; the figures for phosphate raw materials were 65,060,000,000 and 17,435,000,000 tons, respectively. In 1967 the extraction of potassium salts (K20) in capitalist countries was 2.99 million tons in the USA, 2.34 million tons in Canada, 2.2 million tons in West Germany, and 1.78 million tons in France; in 1967, 35.4 million tons of phosphate raw materials were extracted in the USA and 10.8 million tons in Morocco. The USA and Italy have large reserves of sulfur.


Sovetskaia khimicheskaia nauka i promyshlennost’: 50 let.Moscow, 1967.
Mineral’nye resursy kapitalisticheskikh stran. Edited by N. A. Bykhover. Moscow, 1964.
Kalmykov, N. N., and S. A. Vaisben. Ekonomika sotsialisticheskoi khimicheskoi promyshlennosti.Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.