Kerch Iron-ore Basin

Kerch Iron-ore Basin [Керченський залізорудний басейн; Kerchens'kyj zalizorudnyi basein]. A group of iron-ore deposits in the northern and eastern parts of the Kerch Peninsula with an area over 250 sq km and estimated reserves of 8 billion t (0.3 percent of Ukraine's total reserves). Two-thirds of the reserves consists of tobacco ores, and one-third of the more valuable brown ores. The latter have an iron content of approximately 37 percent and some harmful impurities; hence, these ores must be subjected to concentration and chemical treatment. Iron-ore seams extend no deeper than 100–160 m and can be easily strip-mined.

The Kerch deposits began to be mined at the end of the 19th century. In 1913, 370,000 t or 5 percent of Ukraine's iron ore was mined in Kerch. The industry employed 3,000 workers. During the 1920s production was low: in 1928 only 51,000 t were mined. When the Komysh-Buruny Iron-ore Complex was built in the 1930s, the industry expanded rapidly and by 1940 reached an output of 1.3 million t. After the Second World War the mines were reopened only in 1951. In 1955 their output was 2.6 million t and in 1975 it peaked at 4.8 million t (3.9 percent of Ukraine's output). As the brown ores became depleted and grave problems were encountered in upgrading the tobacco ores, production declined to 3.5 million t (2.9 percent of Ukraine's output) by 1984.

An integrated iron and steel mill in Kerch was uneconomical and was not rebuilt after the Second World War. The ore mined in the Kerch Peninsula is shipped across the Sea of Azov to the Mariupol Azovstal Metallurgical Plant.

Bohdan Somchynsky

  [This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 2 (1988).]

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