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01 Jun. 2023

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Ukraine's seized wealth: how much did russia take and what are the consequences?

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Ukraine's seized wealth: how much did russia take and what are the consequences?

The russian army has occupied a large number of Ukrainian territories rich in mineral resources. Find out more about how this has affected Ukraine's economy, the amount of damage and why the deposits may be lost forever

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Since 2014, numerous Ukrainian deposits have fallen under russian control due to the occupation of territories in the east and south of the country. This unfortunate situation has deprived Ukraine of access to valuable mineral resources, which play a crucial role in the country's economy.

The Institute of Geological Sciences of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine has provided data on the extent of these losses. Their estimates indicate that the value of the underground resources lost ranges from USD 12.5 trillion to 15 trillion.

In our material, we investigate how critical the loss of these deposits is and whether it is possible to resume mineral extraction after the liberation of the territories.

Natural resources of Ukraine


Everyone knows Ukraine as the granary of Europe. However, our country possesses more than just agricultural products and raw materials.

About 120 types of minerals of industrial importance lay down on Ukrainian territory. In addition, Ukraine has "critical raw materials" as the European Union defines, including lithium, cobalt, scandium, graphite, tantalum, niobium and others. These resources account for 5% of the world's reserves in Ukraine. It is noteworthy that these substances are crucial for the advancement of "green" energy technologies.

Unfortunately, due to russian aggression, Ukraine has been deprived of access to over 700 deposits out of a total of 2,160. It is important to emphasize that this substantial loss of deposits is primarily attributed to their location in the occupied territories or the southern regions of the country.

Russia and the thirst for minerals


Russia's insatiable appetite devours everything, from human happiness and lives to natural resources. After a full-scale invasion, Ukraine lost access to even more deposits. Production of oil, gas, salt, coal, iron and titanium ore, uranium, granite, manganese and lithium has partially stopped.

Now, let's discuss the significance of salt. Could rock salt be one of the reasons why Prigozhin, the head of the "Wagner" private army, so actively attacked Soledar? There is a version that he sought to capture deposits. The Reuters agency published this information, citing a representative of the US administration as its source.

The russian mass media also mention the potential of the captured territories, in particular the possibility of mineral extraction.



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The situation with coal, oil, and gas


These three minerals were the basis of the mining industry of Ukraine. The biggest losses concern combustible fossils, in particular coal. Currently, more than 80% of coal deposits Ukraine doesn’t control. Let's add that a quarter of captured fields are state coal mines.

The situation with oil and gas is also pessimistic, as almost a quarter of all deposits are located on the occupied territories.

What other deposits did russia occupy?


Russians also grabbed iron ore, manganese, salt, and lithium. By the way, the director of the Institute of Geological Sciences states that the largest iron ore deposits are concentrated in Ukraine.

Ukraine was first deprived of deposits in 2014, when the Kerch iron ore basin in Crimea was seized. Last year, russia took away deposits in the Zaporizhia and Donetsk regions. Note that three billion tons of ores lay down only in the Priazovsky district of the Zaporizhzhia region.

Gold also attracts invaders. Although there are not so many gold deposits, they remain a delicacy for the enemy. Lugansk, Donetsk, and Zaporizhzhia regions possess such deposits.

In recent years, Ukrainians have consumed salt "Artemsil" from Soledar. However, salt is currently mined only in Lviv Oblast in the Drohobytsky deposit.

Manganese, which was actively mined in the Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions, is an important resource for the metallurgical industry. Currently, the Veliko Tokmak deposit is under occupation, and Nikopol and Marganets are under shelligs.

Another valuable mineral is lithium, which russia doesn't mine. The import of this substance is also a problem, because due to sanctions, Bolivia remained the only importer. Currently, Ukraine controls only one field in the Kirovohrad Region.

Uranium mining


Ukraine is one of the ten countries in uranium production volumes. In some uncontrolled territories, the deposits have not yet been developed. The occupation of large uranium layers would not benefit the world, because it would strengthen russia's position in the nuclear fuel market.

Ukraine continues to control the largest uranium deposit, located in the Kirovohrad region.
 

What awaits Ukraine in the future?


The extraction and export of minerals in Ukraine have witnessed a significant decline. Coal production, as highlighted by Energy Minister Herman Galushchenko, has dropped by 40%, with export activities being prohibited. Additionally, Ukraine has ceased gas exports and, in contrast, we imported gas during the autumn and winter of 2022.

Gennadiy Ryabtsev, director of special projects of the "Psyche" scientific and technical center, doubts the expediency of extracting certain minerals after the victory. The government must assess internal needs for certain minerals and the resources needed to restore the layers. According to Gennadiy, we need to extract minerals that will have high demand in the world or strategic importance for Ukraine.

A reminder. In the last article, we talked about a major part of Ukraine's economy - grain exports. Read more about why Ukrainian grain is extremely important for the whole world here.



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