News / Europe

Poor Economy Forces Ukraine Miners into Illegal Operations

Poor Economy Forces Ukraine Miners into Illegal Operationsi
X
Patrick Wells
March 26, 2014 11:33 PM
The Donbass coal field in eastern Ukraine is a huge reserve that once made this region one of the most powerful in the former Soviet Union. But with the collapse of the Soviet empire, industrial production has declined, forcing many local people to find work in dangerous illegal coal mines. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Patrick Wells
The Donbass coal field in eastern Ukraine is a huge reserve that once made this region one of the most powerful in the former Soviet Union.  But with the collapse of the Soviet empire, industrial production has declined, forcing many local people to find work in dangerous illegal coal mines.
 
Under the crumbling industrial landscape of eastern Ukraine, many are forced to scratch a living out of the earth in illegal coal mines like this one.  

There are thousands of illegal mines across this region that operate without licenses or safety checks, and miners say with the complicity of local police, organized crime groups and politicians.
 
Some pits are 300 meters deep and lack adequate support and ventilation.  Miners stack the coal into carts pulled up to the surface on these pulleys.  The men often work without safety equipment, insurance or any hope of a pension.  Some say hundreds of miners perish under the earth each year.
 
“Every week we have accidents.  Two weeks ago on our part of the mine there was an accident, one guy died and another became an invalid.  Almost every day I hear news of accidents in different mines where somebody was wounded or killed," said illegal miner Valera Mardanenitsa.
 
Like many others, Valera lost his job at a state run mine when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.  As the Donbass region went into economic free-fall, he turned to drink and crime, and spent more than 10 years in prison.  Now illegal mining is the only work he can find.
 
“I could go to the state mine, but I would have to pay $400 for a job and I might then be fired any time in the future," he said.
 
He can earn around $18 a day, but because the industry is unregulated, sometimes his bosses do not pay him at all.
 
"Owners often lie to workers, I know a team who were paid less and less each week they worked, and eventually they had to leave their jobs," he said.
 
Cheap coal from illegal pits now supplies up to 12 percent of Ukraine’s total output and is undercutting state owned mining, an outmoded industry that is heavily subsidized and estimated to be losing more than $120 million a year.
 
And while officials in Europe and the United States worry about a possible Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine, many here cannot see what assets Russia would hope to gain.

You May Like

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid