October 2019

Country snapshot: Russia

  • By Ryan Leaver, Marketing and Editorial Assistant, AusIMM

Spanning 11 time zones and two continents, Russia has an impressive endowment of natural resources and is a major player in the global sector

Following the disbandment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR or Soviet Union) in 1991, Russia as we now know it came to fruition. Previously one of 15 bodies comprising the USSR, the disintegration of the Soviet Union saw Russia become an independent state.

Russia is one of few countries that are located across multiple continents, Europe and Asia. Its capital city Moscow is situated in Europe, and most of the country’s population is concentrated in the European area of the country.  

The largest country in the world, Russia has sixteen bordering nations and around 100 languages among more than 120 different ethnic groups.

One unique aspect of Russia is that its large population is on the decline. Having peaked in 1990 at 148 million, it now sits at approximately 144 million and according to the United State Census Bureau, could drop to 111 million as soon as 2050 – representing a decrease of more than 20 per cent.  

But Russia’s declining population has not yet had an impact on its large resources industry. Due to its sheer size, Russia is unsurprisingly the richest nation when it comes to wealth of natural resources.

Mining in Russia

Russia has the largest mining industry in the world, with the total estimated value of its natural resources being around US$75 trillion, more than the US (US$45 trillion) and China (US$23 trillion) combined. 

Russia is a leading producer in dozens of resources including platinum, gold, iron ore, diamonds and palladium. The majority of Russia’s natural resources are found in Siberia and the Russian Far East. The country also holds the second largest coal deposits in the world, behind only the United States.  

Despite some recent economic headwinds and variable mineral and metal prices, the resources sector continues to play a key role in Russia, contributing greatly to the nation’s GDP. Mining is one of the country’s most sizable industries and provides a great amount of exportable goods.

Russia provides around 20 per cent of the world’s cobalt and nickel, while also producing around seven per cent of both iron ore and coal. Of these minerals, coal production in Russia is on a steady incline, while iron ore and nickel are remaining relatively steady.

Alongside the steady production of the above listed major minerals and metals, Russia is the world’s third largest gold producer, sitting behind only Australia and China. But the Russian gold industry expects to double its output by 2030, which would see them become the second largest producer of gold in the world.

Along with the future of gold mining in Russia looking bright, their current domination of the nickel market is set to provide great benefits, with a worldwide increase in lithium-ion batteries currently increasing at a great rate. 

Trade and finances

With Russia’s mining industry in such a stable state and with growth looking likely in the near future, it also provides a lot of opportunities for mining equipment companies from across the globe as Russia imports around US$3 billion worth of mining equipment each year.

In 2017, Russia imported US$221 billion worth of goods, which ranked it as the 19th largest importer in the world. This data saw Russia’s most common imports being packaged medicaments (3.7 per cent of imports), closely followed by cars (3.5 per cent) and vehicle parts (3.4 per cent).

Despite being the 19th largest importer in the world, 2017 saw Russia ranked 14th for exports, resulting in a positive trade balance of US$120 billion. Russia’s most commonly exported goods are crude petroleum (28 per cent of total exports) and refined petroleum (17 per cent).

Russia’s exports are sent all over the world, with the most common destination being China (US$39.1 billion worth of exports), followed by the Netherlands (US$27.2 billion), Germany (US$19.9 billion), Belarus (US$18.5 billion) and the United States (US$15.4 billion).

Conclusion 

With the imminent turn of the decade and an exciting short-term future in the mining industry, Russia is set to continue to be a powerhouse in resources, not only within its own borders, but all around the world. 

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