Industry and its footprint
Te appallingly heavy destruction in- flicted on Ukraine during the second world war was followed by post-war modernization and the expansion of industry, which resulted in substan- tial and sustained economic growth. Coal-mining dominated Donetsk and the Donbas in those days, but it has now declined and the industrial land- scape is more varied. Te centre of the iron and steel industry is the Donetsk Metallurgical Plant. Coke by-prod- ucts form the basis of a chemical in- dustry producing plastics, and there are several heavy engineering works, while light industries, for example food, are also important. Manufac- tures include clothing, cotton cloth, footwear, furniture, and refrigerators.
To any economist, coal’s decline was inevitable. Towards the end of the Soviet era Donbas coal became fairly unprofitable as the remaining de- posits were relatively thin and poor in content. Very difficult geological
conditions in many of the under- ground mines, including thin, steeply sloping coal seams, large depths and high concentrations of methane, are amongst the reasons why Ukraine’s mines rank among the least produc- tive in the world.
Aſter independence, though, the sit- uation changed significantly, breath- ing new life into mining. Coal was Ukraine’s main domestically availa- ble fossil fuel and it has become even more vital for many users with the recent rehabilitation of coal on world energy markets and Ukraine’s recent attempts to diversify its energy sup- ply, in particular aſter severe disputes over gas shook Europe in 2006–9.
So industry earns Donbas a living. Within the boundaries of the Don- bas region today there are altogether about 900 large industrial plants, in- cluding 140 collieries, 40 metallurgi- cal plants, seven thermal power sta- tions and 177 chemically dangerous