The Donets Basin (Ukrainian: Донецький басейн, translit. Donetskyi basein; Russian: Донецкий бассейн, transliterated Donetskiy bassein), known commonly as the Donbas (Ukrainian: Донбас, Russian: Донбасс, Donbass), is a historical, economic and cultural region of eastern Ukraine and southwest Russia. A coal mining area since late 19th century, it has become a heavily industrialised territory suffering from urban decay and industrial pollution.
Donbas covers three administrative oblasts (provinces) in the east of Ukraine: the easternmost part of the Dnipropetrovsk Oblast around the city of Pavlohrad (the so-called "Western Donbas"), the northern and central part of Donetsk Oblast (the southern part is perceived to be Pryazovia coastland) and the southern part of Luhansk Oblast (the northern part is perceived to be Slobozhanschyna). In Russia the Rostov Oblast is part of the region.
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Before the intensive industrial development, the Donbas area was once a typical part of the vast Great Eurasian Steppe.
"Donbas" refers to a larger supranational region including a part of neighbouring Rostov Oblast in Russia (the "Russian Donbass") also specialized in coal mining. This is explained by the fact that the Donets Coal Basin geographically extends into that area. But the "Russian Donbass" is of lesser economic compared with the part belonging to Ukraine since 1991.
Current natural resources
Despite history of extensive extraction, the Donets Basin still contains coal deposits suitable for decades of further mining. However, estimates on overall longevity of the large-scale mining in the region vary due to mounting costs, international competition and environmental concerns. In the Russian part 32 coal mines were operating in 1999 and produced about 10 Million t, the number declined to 14 until 2004. The part in Ukraine produced 36 Million t coal in 1999.
Urbanization and uneven development
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Donbas is a heavily-urbanized territory with several conurbation areas. It is reflected in the region's complicated administrative division which is characteristic of small "cities" (towns) being subordinated to larger neighboring "cities", and so on to the level up.
In 1676, the first town of the Donbas emerged: Solanoye (now Slavyansk) which was built for the profitable business of extracting newly discovered rock-salt reserves. In 1721, vast and rich coal fields were found, which started the "industrial boom" which led to the flourish of the region in 18th–first half of 20th century.
Ukrainian scholar and politician Hryhoriy Nemyria said:
The fact that you came from the Donbas was more important than that you were Russian or Ukrainian; so of course the break-up of the Soviet Union also meant a raising of this regional identity and loyalty... In any case, most people here honestly couldn't say what they are ethnically, because most families, like mine, are mixed.
Occupational safety in coal industry
The coal mines of Donbas are some of the most hazardous in the world due to enormous working depths (down from 300 to 1200 m) as a result of natural depletion, as well as due to high levels of methane explosion, coal dust explosion and rock burst dangers.
Intensive coal mining and smelting in Donbas has led to severe multi-faceted damage to the local environment and residential comfort. The most common threats throughout the region include:
- water supply disruption and flooding due to the mine water
- visible air pollution around coke and steel mills
- air/water contamination and mudslide threat from the spoil tips
Additionally, several chemical industry waste grounds in Donbas have become undermaintained and pose a constant threat of major emissions to the environment.
- Donbass Arena
- HC Donbass—an ice hockey team based in Donetsk bearing the name of the region
- Kryvbas—an important economic region in central Ukraine
- Ruhr Area—a comparable region in Central Europe
- "The coal-mining racket threatening Ukraine's economy". BBC News. April 23, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013.
- Kurakov/Samofalov/Malikov/Kolomiets: Coal mining in the Russian Donetsk Basin. Coke and Chemistry, April 2010, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 121-123 
- Anatol Lieven, Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power (Yale University Press, 1999), p. 264.
- Soviet conspiracy theories and political culture in Ukraine:Understanding Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Region by Taras Kuzio (23 August 2011)
- Grumau, S. (2002). Coal mining in Ukraine. Economic Review.44. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.erl.lib.byu.edu
- Panova, Kateryna (8 July 2011). "Illegal mines profitable, but at massive cost to nation". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
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- "The coal-mining racket threatening Ukraine's economy" by BBC News
- Why Donbass Votes for Yanukovych, historical overview of the roots, culture and character of the Donbas by Alexandr Osipian