OpinionSociety

Donbas Coal is Non-liquid Black Gold for Russia

Ukraine occupies first place in Europe and eighth in the world in terms of geological pit coal reserves. The discovered coal reserves n Ukraine in 1998 amounted to about 50 billion tons, perspective resources – about 120 billion tons.

Ukraine’s mining fund consisted of 160 mines in 2008, 140 of which were state-owned. At the beginning of January 2012, there were 95 operating coal mining enterprises in the Donetsk region, including 67 state-owned and 28 non-state-owned. Annual coal production in Ukraine averaged 80 million tons in 1995-2013.

Noteworthy, the Ukrainian coal industry has been seriously ill for the last 30 years. The governmental subsidies were treating it, but over time the state treasury was increasingly devastated. So, less and less money was remained to support the industry.

To avoid squandering budget funds, in 1995 the Government decided to liquidate 137 mines from 280 coal mining and coal processing enterprises, i.e. half of the total number.  However, some of these mines had a chance to return to work, but it was purely theoretical.

But all this remained in the past, in pre-war times. The war hit this sector of Ukraine’s economy the hardest.

flags of Ukraine and RussiaIn 2014, a large number of miners became a vital part of the pro-Russian movement in Donbas. Leaders of terrorists, at rallies and riots, threatened with the intentions of the “hunta,” America and the European Union to destroy the industrial potential of Donbas as a competitor to European industry, and above all, to eliminate coal mines. That became a mobilising factor, not only to ensure the masses but also to fill the illegal armed formations with volunteers from miners.

The front divided the miners into “ours” and “theirs” with a line of fire. Thousands of “theirs” died to prevent the capture of mines by “Bandera” and “Westerners” and the industry destruction. And what?

Sixty-nine functioning state coal mines of Donbas appeared in the uncontrolled territory. There are 33 functioning mines left in the territory controlled by Ukraine, of which only four are considered profitable.

So many mines being cut off has led to an annual reduction in coal production in Ukraine, which reached only 31 million tons in 2019.

But what the miners of the Luhansk People’s Republic and the DPR fought against was fulfilled by the leadership of these unrecognised republics with the Russian authorities’ support.

According to information from different sources, including ORDLO’s official sources, the volume of coal production in the occupied part of Donbas has decreased to 15 million tons. Liquidation, flooding and closure of mines began. Miners began to lose their jobs massively.

Mass closure of mines

The Russian-controlled unrecognised Luhansk People’s Republic leadership has announced the unprofitable mines’ closing plans.  By February 2021, five enterprises are to be closed. That is in addition to those that have been already shut, and with multimillion-dollar salary debts.

However, this did not prevent the miners’ day from being celebrated loudly in LNR not so long ago, during which the militant leader Leonid Pasechnyk presented Russian LADA XRAY cars to three miners, to sugar-coat a bitter truth.

It should be mentioned that many settlements in the Donbas were built around mines and for mines. Closing the mine in most cases means the gradual but inevitable demise of the town or village if a state does not offer a program to create new jobs and professional reorientation of miners who have lost their jobs or companies that do not attract investments. But it is not the case with this “state” and in this life.

Thanks to the information published by the Ukrainian mass media, as well as publications on the Internet and in open sources in Russia and ORDLO, it is possible to put together puzzles of what happens with coal mining companies in the occupied territories, for example, in the Luhansk region.

The Miusinska and Novopavlivska mines (the town of Khrustalny, also known as Krasny Luch) were flooded in April this year. The decision to flood was made at a meeting in Moscow.

The Fashchevska mine (the village of Fashchevka, Perevalsky area) is closed, despite the occupation authorities promises to the miners, who amounted to almost 400 people, to ensure the enterprise’s stable activity.

Cherkasy mine (Zymohirya city, Slavyanoserbsky district) is closed with salary debts.

The Nikanor-Nova mine (Zorynsk, Perevalskyi district) became widely known due to a miners’ strike that did not leave the slaughterhouse. During the strike, angry women expelled the liquidation commission from the mine. A year earlier, the Nikanor-Nova mine had been an example, how “the coal industry of the “LPR” was coming back to life.” Despite the resistance of miners, the mine is being closed nevertheless.

The Vergulivska mine (Vergulivka village, Bryankiv City Council, Perevalskyi area) was closed and dismantled. The reason was the absence of orders. “Vergulivska was closed a month ago, even minibusses were cancelled in this village and no water is provided! Before the war, 3,000 people lived in the village, and now that’s it, the end of the village … I forgot to write, the school was dismantled, it is disappeared,” a resident wrote.

Lomuvatka mine (Lomuvatka village, Bryankiv City Council, Perevalskyi area) stopped draining and went underwater in 2017. In 2016, though, the militants announced the launch of new lava in the mine.

The Lutuhynska mine (the village of Georgiyivka, Lutuhyn area) was drowned. The mine was restarted three times, after which it was flooded.

The mine named after the XIX Party Congress (Bile village, Lutuhyn area) is planned to close by the end of 2020.

Luhanska and Mashchynska mines of the Luhanske mine management (Jubileine village of the Luhansk City Council) is to be liquidated by the middle of 2021.

Partizanska Mine (Krepinske urban-type settlement of the Anthracit City Council). There was also a strike, four participants of whom had to leave. They say it happened easily. A protest action was also being prepared in Makiivka, but the local pro-Russian administration went from house to house and warned: “Look at your children. You are not in Ukraine anymore.”

Serhiy Chuprin, an occupation administration representative, said at the closure of the mines in Krasny Luch that no one would subsidise the mines, as Ukraine did, and there was no money in the budget for that. The authorities will not keep mines that do not provide for themselves. Chuprin did not explain how companies should do this.

Finally, the Pervomaiskaya mine, located in the militant-occupied part of the Zolote-5 village, where troops were allocated in 2019, could not work due to constant shelling. It was damaged and flooded, which created a threat of flooding several horizons of other enterprises of the association “Pervomaiskvugol.”

Miners to the war with Ukraine

Occupant Donbas weaponAnd where should the miners who have left work due to the closure of the mines go? Let’s repeat: ORDLO does not have programs to ensure the employment of fired workers. Although no; two such programs exist still.

The first program for miners is participation in the war.

“For military service under the contract in the 7th separate Guards Motorised Rifle Brigade of the 2nd Army Corps of the National Police of the LPR (unit 08807), we need men aged from 18 to 55, with appropriate health state, for rankers and sergeant positions. Money provision: 15,000 rubles and 24,000 surcharges for combat duties for a ranker;

19,500 and 31,600 rubles for combat duties for a sergeant. A form (winter/summer) is provided. Vacation is 30 days per annum + 7 days and medical care. Assistance in registration of the dismissed on NUK and SOCH but in the case of necessary documents presence.

Firing for NUK is a dismissal for non-compliance with the contract’s terms, firing for “SOCH” is a dismissal for leaving a unit without permission.

It is necessary to say that the average monthly salary of miners in Russia reaches almost 40,000 rubles. In some regions (Vorkuta, Norilsk), it amounts to 70,000 rubles. And although the miner’s profession is one of the most dangerous in the world, it is still safer than being a soldier at the front and putting your head under bullets.

The second program for miners is emigration abroad.

As a result of world coal prices dropping, the demand for coal produced in Russia and the territory uncontrolled by Ukraine, decreased significantly. Mines in the Rostov region began to close. It is unlikely that Russia will treat Ukrainian miners differently than Russian miners.

Yuriy Fedorenko expertThe price fall has put dozens of mines on the verge of closing in ORDLO. Tellingly, most of them had already been operating with minimum profitability before that. There is no alternative to closing mines due to the state subsidies’ lack. 25,000 to 30,000 miners, who do not and will not work in unrecognised republics, can find themselves on the street. There is only one thing left – to leave the native land together with their families. The only way is to go to Russia if there is a Russian passport. And then, it just depends. But it is unlikely that Donetsk miners will find professional jobs, and that’s why. The work of miners is highly evaluated in Europe and North America. And in Kazakhstan. For example, the monthly salary of a miner in Germany averaged 247,000 Russian rubles. There, in Europe, which, according to ORDLO leaders, posed the greatest threat to Donbas, not only Donetsk but also, most likely, Russian miners will leave. Here is such a bright prospect.

Yuriy Fedorenko, an analyst, public communications expert.

The author’s opinion does not always coincide with the editorial position.

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