Mining Industry

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mining Industry


the complex of branches of production engaged in the exploration for deposits of minerals and in the extraction from the earth and primary processing (concentration) of these minerals. The mining industry is divided into the following main groups: (1) the fuel industry, includig petroleum, natural gas, coal, shale, and peat extraction; (2) the ore mining industry, including the extraction of ores of iron, manganese, nonferrous metals (including noble metals and rare earths), and radioactive elements; (3) the nonmetal-lic mineral and local building materials industry, including extraction of marble, granite, asbestos, chalk, dolomite, quartzite, kaolin, clay, gypsum, marl, feldspar, and limestone; (4) the mining and chemical materials industry, including extraction of apatite, potassium salt, nepheline, potassium nitrate, iron pyrite, boric ore, and phosphate; and (5) the hydromineral industry, including utilization of subterranean mineral waters as well as water for water supply and other purposes.

There has been mining since ancient times. The mining industry developed rapidly beginning in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1967 approximately 7 billion tons of minerals were extracted in the world, with a total estimated value of approximately $80 billion. Fuel energy raw materials accounted for over 70 percent (of which 48.8 percent was petroleum and 17.5 percent was coal) and iron ores for 7 percent of the total value of mineral raw materials and fuel recovered in 1967.

The USSR possesses huge potential resources of various types of raw materials and fuel and has the world’s largest explored reserves of coal, peat, iron and manganese ores, bauxites, copper, lead, nickel, and tungsten and large reserves of petroleum, natural gas, and other minerals.

The distribution of the mining industry in the USSR changed sharply during the years of Soviet power. In 1969 all the eastern regions of the country accounted for 51.1 percent of the coal extraction, 34.3 percent of the petroleum, 29.6 percent of the natural gas (including by-product gas), and 30.6 percent of the iron ore. Mineral extraction has experienced high rates of growth (see Table 1).

Table 1. Extraction of the most important minerals in the USSR (millions of tons)
1 Billions of cu m
Iron ore............
Natural gas, Includingby-product gas’............

In 1969 the mining industry of the USSR accounted for approximately 20 percent of world mining production (mineral extraction in terms of value). The Soviet mining industry employed approximately 2.5 million production and clerical workers in 1969, which amounted to approximately 8 percent of the total industrial-production work force of the USSR. Mining production accounts for the largest share of rail-hauled freight transport in the USSR: coal, coke, petroleum, ores, and mineral building materials made up 65 percent of the tonnage shipped by rail transport in 1969.

The underground nature of mining industry operations complicated the organization of production, the control and supervision of the functioning of technological processes, and the mechanization and automation of these processes. Mining enterprise production costs do not include the cost of raw and basic materials. Wages amount to approximately 55 percent of the prime cost of underground mining operations and approximately 30 percent of the prime cost of open-cut mining operations. In a number of mining sectors, more than half of the fixed capital stock consists of durable structures.

The mining industry of the USSR is characterized by large basins and deposits: the Donets, Kuznetsk, Karaganda, and Pechora coal basins; the Krivoi Rog iron-ore basin, the Kursk Magnetic Anomaly, and the iron-ore deposits of Kustanai Oblast; and the Volga-Urals, Western Siberia, Turkmenia, North Caucasus, and Azerbaijan oil regions. The mining industry of the USSR is highly concentrated; the ensuing large scale of production permits reductions in the cost of extraction and allows the use of the latest technology. The coal industry has practically completed the mechanization of cutting, breaking-out, and transferring coal at working faces, the mine hauling of coal and rock, and the loading of coal into railroad cars. The adoption of “cyclic” sets of equipment and “continuous” mining is a major trend of technological development at coal mines. Large excavators, electric locomotives, dump trucks, and other equipment are used in open-cut mining. The petroleum industry makes wide use of advanced deposit exploitation methods (transcontour and in-tracontour flooding, injection of gas into strata to maintain bed pressure, hydraulic stratum fracturing, hydraulic sand-jet well perforation) that increase petroleum production considerably.

The mining industry has made significant progress in a number of socialist countries. In 1969, 29 million tons of coal were extracted in Bulgaria; 1.8 million tons of oil, 22.4 million tons of lignite, 4.1 million tons of coal, and 500,000 tons of iron ore in Hungary; 254.6 million tons of lignite and 1.3 million tons of coal in the German Democratic Republic; 135 million tons of coal and 31 million tons of lignite in Poland; 13.2 million tons of petroleum, 24.1 billion cu m of natural gas, and 17 million tons of coal in Rumania; 27.2 million tons of coal, 78.7 million tons of lignite, and 1 million tons of iron ore in Czechoslovakia; and 2.7 million tons of petroleum, 700,000 tons of coal, 25.8 million tons of lignite, and 2.8 million tons of iron ore in Yugoslavia.

Among the capitalist countries the USA ranks first in the extraction of coal, petroleum, natural gas, copper ore, molybdenum, and other mining industry products. In 1969, 455 million tons of petroleum, 585 billion cu m of natural gas, 514 million tons of coal, and 87.5 million tons of iron ore were extracted in the USA; 19.6 billion cu m of natural gas, 153 million tons of coal, and 12.3 million tons of iron ore in Great Britain; 11.4 billion cu m of natural gas, 43.5 million tons of coal, and 56 million tons of iron ore in France; and 11 billion cu m of natural gas, 219 million tons of coal, and 7.5 million tons of iron ore in West Germany.


Direktivy XXIV s”ezda KPSS po piatiletnemu planu razvitiia narod-nogo khoziaistva SSSR na 1971–1975 gody.Moscow, 1971.
Brenner, M. M. Ekonomika neftianoi i gazovoi promyshlennosti SSSR.Moscow, 1968.
Budnitskii, I. M. Gornaia promyshlennost’ v sisteme narodnogo khoziaistva SSSR.Moscow, 1965.
Energeticheskie resursy SSSR.Vol. 1: Toplivno-energeticheskie re-sursy.Moscow, 1968.
Rachkovskii, S. Ia. Ekonomika gornorudnoi promyshlennosti.Moscow, 1965.
Friedensburg, F. Ekonomika gornoi promyshlennosti mira ....Moscow, 1968. [Translated from German.]


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