Russia plundering Ukraine’s natural resources – by Eugen Theise ( – August 28, 2023)

Ukraine is known as one of Europe’s largest grain producers. But it also has valuable natural resources such as iron ore and coal that Russia is eager to exploit.

Dig into the earth near the Ukrainian city of Dniprorudne, and you will hit ore with an iron content of over 60%. Before the war, about 4.5 million tons of this high-quality iron ore were mined each year — with the lion’s share exported to Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Austria.

Selling this strategically important resources earned Dniprorudne mines the equivalent of €200 million ($216 million) per year. One-third of the ore was made into steel at a plant to the west, in the city of Zaporizhzhia, and also exported.

But all that changed in the summer of 2022, when Russian troops occupied Dniprorudne. Ukraine’s highly coveted and strategically important natural resources are now being sent to Russia. Ukrainian, Slovak and Czech investors in the mining business have had their property seized by Russia.

Metallurgy ore exports fell by nearly 60% in 2022 from 2021, dropping to a total value of less than $3 billion (€2.8 billion), according to industry analysts GMK Center, a Ukrainian-based think tank. Part of this drop is attributed to Russia’s occupation of Ukrainian mining regions. In 2022, the Canadian think tank SecDev estimated the total value of deposits in occupied Ukraine at over $12 trillion.

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