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Bureau of Mines / Minerals yearbook area reports: international 1972
Year 1972, Volume 3 (1972)

Strishkov, V.V.
U.S.S.R.,   pp. 813-850 PDF (4.7 MB)


Page 813

  813The Mineral Industry of the U.S.S.R~ 
By V. V. Strishkov2 
 The U.S.S.R., with complete nationalization and low-wage labor, maintained
its position in 1972 as the world's second largest producer of industrial
products. Production schedules are mutually coordinated and production targets
are predetermined in principle by the 197 1—75 national plan for economic
development. 
 Economic growth of the U.S.S.R. is closely linked with development of its
vast mineral resources. The country ranks second in the world in coal reserves
and has extensive deposits of oil, natural gas, and ferrous and nonferrous
metals. The U.S.S.R. is the world's leading producer of iron, manganese and
chromium ores, crude steel, platinum-group metals, potassium salts, and cement.
It occupies second place, following the United States, in output of aluminum,
lead, petroleum, natural gas, coal, and phosphate rock; it ranks after Canada
in the production of nickel, ' and asbestos, and ' follows the Republic of
South Africa in gold production. 
 Compared with 1971, raw coal production, in million tons,3 has increased
by 14; oil, by 22; pig iron, by 3.1; crude steel, by 4.9; finished rolled,
ferrous metals, by 3.4; mineral fertilizers, by 4.7 (Soviet standard); and
cement, by 3.7. Natural gas has increased ' by 9 billion cubic meters, and
electric power by 58,000 million kilowatthours. There were also increases
in the output of nonferrous and rare metals and oil refinery and oil chemistry
products. 
 Despite impressive gains in mineral production, as reported in the Soviet
press, there also have been consistent reports of the failure of mineral
commodities to reach planned goals and supply industrial needs. The failure
to reach planned output levels brought subsequent emphasis on meeting revised
production goals with the result that a considerable part of the industrial
output was not of established quality standards. 
 The expansion of the mineral industry 
continued to be achieved mainly through increased labor and capital rather
than advancing technology. It is estimated that two to three times more investment
and la'bor in real terms are required in the U.S.S.R. than in the principal
countries of the West to achieve a given increase in mineral output. ' Because
of shortages of mineral commodities, efforts were directed chiefly toward
fulfilling quantitative goals and less attention was paid to quality. The
productivity of labor and equipment was below planned levels, and practically
all sectors of the mineral industry maintained a greater number of~production
personnel than called for by plan targets.4 At the root of these problems
is apparently technological backwardness in mining and recovery of commodities
and inefficient production and consumption of metals, fuels, and energy;
' the Soviet economic system does not generate innovation. 
 There were about 1.5 million "production workers" and some 75,000 university
graduate engineers and 125,000 graduate technicians in the Soviet ferrous
industry in 1972. The coal industry employed over 2.2 million, including
61,500 university graduate engineers and 141,000 technicians. The oil, gas,
and petrochemical industries employed 2.6 million, including 250,000 in the
development of oilfields and gasfields. Some 65,000 specialists with ' higher
and secondary specialized education were in the supply system, which is served
by 30 computer centers and 56 machine calculating stations. As a whole, according
to Soviet sources, 69% of the graduate Soviet engineers performed various
kinds of work not requiring specialized university training. For example,
in the Ukrainian coal industry, 860 graduate engineers and more than 
 1 This publication is based entirely on a review of the sources published
by the U.S.S.R. 
 Mining engineer, Division of Fossil Fuels— Mineral Supply. 
 All tons in this publication are metric tons. 
 4Pravda (Moscow). Jan. 18, 1971, p. 2. 


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