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How to ruin mining industry of the Donbas: Guidance from «L-DPR»

How to ruin mining industry of the Donbas: Guidance from «L-DPR»

After the seizure of a part of Donbas mines by illegal “L-DPR” organizations, the situation at them sharply got worse. Last week there appeared the statement of the so-called “DPR” “ministry of fuel and energy” that four mines of “Makeevugol” would be restructured, in other words, “Bazhanova”, “Lenina”, “Chaikino”, and “Butovskaya” mines would be closed. All in all, there are 9 mined in this mine management enterprise. However, there is no money to finance them. In the past, they were supported by the Ukrainian state. Now they are deprived of this support. Occupational authorities are not interested in the survival of the industry there. Their aim is to squeeze as much as possible from what is still working.

“Kholodnaya Balka” mine is the most efficient one today, but even there the wages have not been paid in full since the autumn of 2015. On the eve of the statement about the mine closure, “Kholodnaya Balka” miners held a strike demanding the payment of the earned money. “DPR” regarded it as a provocation.

“There is war. That is way sabotage cannot be admitted and may be regarded as betrayal”, “DPR” “ministry of energy” site writes. According to the “News of Donbas” information, at least one of the strike organizers was detained by militants and severely beaten. The information about the punishment of the protest participants by the occupation authorities was confirmed by Mykhaylo Volynets, Chairperson of the independent trade union of miners, and by another person who would like to be anonymous.

According to our interlocutor’s (he is an expert in mining industry) data, 13 mines out of 33 are working on the occupied territory now.

The mines which are working on the occupied Donetsk region territory: “Donetsk Coal Energy Company” - three, “Makeevvuhol” – five, “Shakhterskantratsyt” – two, “Snizhnoyeantratsyt” – two. “DPR” just flooded the mines.

“All the other mines, about 33 of them, are not working. Many of them will never start working again: “Oktyabrsky Rudnik”, “Trudovskaya”, “Poltavskaya”, “Abakumova”, as the source says.

No mines are working in occupied Horlivka and Yenakiyeve. There were five mines left in Horlivka and five in Yenakiyeve. The cost of coal extracted there was very high, and the mines have lots of problems. At the same time, there are no big enterprises in Horlivka except Stirol, and there were constant discussions how to preserve jobs for local people. When “DPR” seized the power, the question was off the agenda – nobody was interested in the locals. They may go to Russia to earn money; they may become militants. For example, “LPR” militants’ head Ihor Plotnitsky has issued orders “to recruit volunteers to defend “LPR” borders”.

“DPR” boasts that at present 26 breakage faces are working on the occupied territory of the Donetsk region (OTDR). However, according to our interlocutor, before the war, 15-16 drifts worked only in “Makeevugol” alone. So, there is no ground for “DPR” to boast.

“The hardest mining in Ukraine is in Makiivka. Nobody in mine amalgamations was able to extract coal operating direct course when the coal layers are so narrow, mines are so deep and with a large concentration of gas. “Bazhenova” mine is 1,300 m deep; “Chaykino” is 1,100; the temperature is about 40 degrees Celsius. The working conditions are the hardest”, said the interlocutor.

“Today GROZ (a stope miner) – this is the leading job in “Makeevugol”mining – earns 8-9 thousand roubles which is approximately 3 thousand Hryvnyas. In Ukraine, even at unfavourable mines, a GROZ earned 8-9 thousand Hryvnyas a month and social perks which are absent today were added”, says Mykhaylo Volynets.

At the same time, according to him, “Makeevuhol” mines have always been unprofitable.
“When the mines were Ukrainian, “Makeevugol” got monthly donations of 110 mln Hryvnyas from the budget. The wages with taxes of 17 thousand “Makeevugol” miners was 130 mln. That is 90% of wages were paid from the state budget of Ukraine. Without this state support the mines would have been closed at that time. Now, when Ukraine is not controlling the situation, the mines will be closed sooner or later”.

“Makeevugol” was a large state business. The mines extracted 3 mln tons of coal a year. After an accident at “Bazhanova” mine, they extracted 2.2 mln tons a year. It was the only mine amalgamation in Ukraine which had unique coal deposit. When the amalgamation was Ukrainian, the mines owned 400 mln tons of industrial coal. Most of the mines had good working prospects. For example, “Kholodnaya Balka”was unprofitable at some time, but we made it prospective. In spite of problems, no mine had been closed for ten years. “Butovskaya” mine had been restored, it stared extracting 2 thousand tons of coal a day. “Chaykino” has 130 mln tons of industrial coal deposits. Now, “Chaykino”, “Butovskaya”, and “Bazhenova” are closed. There is no money for their development. What was made for them when they were Ukrainian has been done. Nothing new has been developed for “Chaykino”, for example, and the mine will be closed”.

According to the interlocutor, at present, coal of «T» rank is extracted on the occupied territory. It is coal used to produce energy and it is consumed mainly by Starobeshevskaya thermal power plant (TPP). This power plant is a component of the united energy system of Ukraine. «Yasynovskaya-Glubokaya” extracts coal «OS» for household needs, «Kirova» mine — «T», «Kalynivskaya-Vostochnaya» - «K» coke for metallurgical industry.

Russia which «L-DPR» groupings work for does not need this coal.

«First, this coal contains large concentration of sulfur. It is costly. Costs are high, the price is low. The state covered this difference in the past. There is no state support now. So, the business is being ruined. Under Ukraine, «Makeeugol» extracted 70 thousand tons a day. Now — only 3-3.5. The number of miners reduced too. There were 17.5 thousand miners; now, they say, – 14 thousand. I think the figure is even lower. Wages are not paid. There are debts for August-September 2014, September-December 2015. Nobody pays any taxes there. Noboby gets any social package perks. People get the so-called cash benefits. There are so sick leave payments and no fixed pension age. Young people who have stayed there have to find another job».

The employees of two mechanical repair plants (MRP) have been reduced. About 130 workers of Chervonogvardeyskiy MRP were fired. About 20 employees who were left were «merged» with Makeevka MRP.

Accoeding to Vykhaylo Volynets, Chief of the Intependent Trade  Union of Miners, the situation is critical at mines of the Luhansk region too. For example, there are 7 mines in Krasny Luch. One of them —“Knyahyhynskaya” — extracted 500 million tons before the war; now — 40, ten times fewer. A week ago there was an accident: a hydraulic station exploded.

«The miners were paid 20% of their wages for December-January. It was 1thousand roubles — 500 Hryvnyas. A kilo of butter costs 400 roubles», added the trade union leader.

“Miusskaya” and “Novopavlovskaya” mines will be closed too, as Volynetsk thinks. Thus, 4 mines out of 7 will be left in Krasny Luch.

It seems that the people who are breadwinners in the family cannot be indifferent in such situation. It will be fair if miners hold a rally.

“People have tried to hold a rally at “Yasynovskaya-Hlubokaya”. At “Holodnaya Balka”two shifts did not work, but the third one was made work. In such cases state security officers immediately arrive and say that “there is war, and any protest is treated as a provocation which undermines our sovereignty”. Activists are treated in such a way that they have no desire to do anything. People are scared. They have no right to fight for their life”, said Mykhaylo Volynets.

There is the law prohibiting to create any trade unions except the ones subordinated to the occupation administration on the occupied territories. This law is referred to when miners try to create independent trade unions at their mines.

“L-DPR” prohibit independent trade unions because they are dangerous for them. They do not want trade unions to exist at enterprises. They pursuit our leaders, hold searches in trade union offices in Krasny Luch and Antratsyt. The Independent Trade Union lost members and money. Then IDPs. A trade union member comes to us and says, “I have no job. I have nothing to eat. Of course, we try to help”, Volynets says.

“If leaders cannot be fired or killed, it is possible to turn 95% of them into a mob, unprotected and degrading. They want to feed their families, but they are nothing. The personality is being ruined. The same situation is in healthcare and education”, he adds.

According to our interlocutor, the mine management on the occupied territory is the same as it was in Ukraine. They are people who got Ukrainian orders and medals, and titles of honorary miners.

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