Ukraine is the largest country entirely in Europe and the world’s 46th largest with a total area of 233,062 square miles. Excluding Crimea, which is currently claimed by Russia, the population of Ukraine is approximately 42 million people, making it the 32nd most populous country in the world. Its largest and capital city is Kiev, located in the north-central part of the country. Ukraine’s landscape is characterized by fertile plains and plateaus and is crossed by several rivers that flow into the Black Sea.
The country was a key economy in the former Soviet Union. It is classified by the World Bank as a middle-income country. Ukraine has rich reserves of natural resources which are considered key to its economic growth. However, corruption and mismanagement of resources have slowed the exploration of some of these natural resources.
Overview of Natural Resources in Ukraine
Ukraine has a wide variety of natural resources. The natural resources of Ukraine can be divided into three main groups; energy resource, metal ores, and non-metal ores. Although it accounts for only 0.4% and 0.8% of the Earth’s land surface and world’s population respectively, the country has approximately 5% of the world’s mineral resources. Over 20,000 deposits of 194 known minerals can be found in Ukraine. Of these deposits discovered, 7,800 deposits of over 90 hold important industrial minerals. Ukraine has one of the leading reserves and extraction of manganese, iron, and non-metallic raw material. The deposits can be found in different regions across the country. Here are some of the major natural resources of Ukraine.
Coal is a main fossil fuel raw material whose reserve can meet the demand for energy and industry in Ukraine for the next 500 years. It is the largest hydrocarbon fossil resource of Ukraine, accounting for 95% of the fossil resource. Ukraine has the world’s 7th largest and Europe’s 2nd largest coal reserve at about 34 billion tons. Other sources have estimated the reserves to be approximately 115 billion tons. The country’s major coal reserves are located in Donbas Basin and Lviv-Volyn Basin. The two deposits hold 95% of coal reserves in Ukraine, with Donbas holding 92.4% and Lviv-Volyn Basin 2.5%. Over 30% of the reserves in the two basins are cooking coal. Producing about 100 million tons of coal annually, these reserves are expected to last for about 570 years. Some coal deposits are also found in Dnieper Basin. The majority of the coal produced in Ukraine is for domestic use, especially for electricity production. Coal accounts for about 44% of the fuel for energy generating companies, making it the second-most important fuel after nuclear.
Oil and Natural Gas
Ukraine was estimated to hold over 1.1 trillion cubic meters of natural gas reserves in 2004, ranking it 26th among the countries with proven gas reserves before Crimea was annexed. It is also estimated to hold over 135 million tons of oil and 3.7 billion tons of shale oil reserves. The country also has reserves of gas condensate of about 80,000 tons. Several oil and gas fields have been exploited years and some are almost exhausted. Gas, alongside oil fields, are mainly located in three provinces of Ukraine. The major field is the Dnieper-Donetsk which was discovered in the 1950s.
Ukraine, Australia, and Russia have the biggest proportion of iron ore deposits in the world. Each of the three countries has over 10% of the world’s iron ore reserves. Ukraine alone has an estimated 27 billion tons of iron ore reserves and ranks 6th in global iron ore production. There are about 88 deposits across the country. These rich iron ores deposits are mainly located in Kremenchuk, Kerch, Mariupol, Belozersky, and Kryvyi Rih. Of the 88 deposits, 60 are located in Kryvyi Rih basin which has a reserve of about 19 billion tons. The Kremenchuk basin has about 4 billion tons while Belozersky holds 2.5 billion tons. A large portion of the iron ore deposits has been extracted by surface mining. Ukraine mainly exports its iron ore to China.
Ukraine is in the top ten producers of manganese ore in the world and has the largest manganese ore reserve in Europe. In 2010, the country produced over 736,000 metric tons of marketable manganese ores and concentrates, of which some 121,000 metric tons were exported and the rest used domestically to produce ferroalloys. The major reserves are located in the southern part of Ukraine. The Nikopol basin holds about a third of the explored reserves in the country while the Veliko-Tokmakskoye field holds 66% of the explored reserves.
Other Major Resources of Ukraine
Ukraine holds the largest titanium reserve in Europe. There are 15 known deposits in different parts of the country, of which four are being explored. These deposits are situated in Kharkiv, Kiev, Donetsk, and Dnipropetrovsk regions. The country also has the largest uranium deposit in Europe and accounts for 1.8% of the world’s uranium deposit. The proven reserves contain estimated 45,600 tons of uranium. Ukraine has 300 deposits of graphite, containing more than 1 billion tons or 20% of the world’s graphite. Only China has more graphite reserves (26% of the total world’s graphite reserve). Other major resources include mercury (2% of the world, 30,000 tons, ranking it 5th after Spain, China, Algeria, and Kyrgyzstan), potash salt, gold, building material, ornamental stones, and hydropower resources.