Donets Basin

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Simplified map of the Donets Basin on the map of Ukraine.
Map of economic activity in Donbas. Unofficial Donbas region is pink; official oblast borders are shown as black lines.

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[1] since late 19th century, it has become a heavily industrialised territory suffering from urban decay and industrial pollution.

The Donbas Euroregion covers the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, and also Rostov area of Russian Federation.[2]

Donbas is currently the most densely populated of all the regions of Ukraine (excluding the capital city of Kiev). The city of Donetsk is considered the unofficial capital of Donbas.


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.

Natural geography[edit]

Before the intensive industrial development, the Donbas area was once a typical part of the vast Great Eurasian Steppe.

Economic geography[edit]

"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[edit]

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.[3] The part in Ukraine produced 36 Million t coal in 1999.[4]

Urbanization and uneven development[edit]

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.


The name of the region originates from the coal-field discovered in late 19th century which was named after the Donets river flowing across the region.

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.[5]

Surveys of regional identities in Ukraine have shown that around 40% of Donbas residents claim to have a "Soviet identity".[6]

Coal mining-related issues[edit]

Occupational safety in coal industry[edit]

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.[7]

Despite these, even more hazardous illegal coal mines have massively appeared across the region in recent years.[1][8]

Environment destruction[edit]

Coal-mining spoil tips along the Kalmius river in Donetsk.

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:

Additionally, several chemical industry waste grounds in Donbas have become undermaintained and pose a constant threat of major emissions to the environment.

One unusual threat is the result of the Soviet-era 1979 project of nuclear-explosion mining in Yenakieve.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "The coal-mining racket threatening Ukraine's economy". BBC News. April 23, 2013. Retrieved September 18, 2013. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Kurakov/Samofalov/Malikov/Kolomiets: Coal mining in the Russian Donetsk Basin. Coke and Chemistry, April 2010, Volume 53, Issue 4, pp 121-123 [1]
  4. ^
  5. ^ Anatol Lieven, Chechnya: Tombstone of Russian Power (Yale University Press, 1999), p. 264.
  6. ^ Soviet conspiracy theories and political culture in Ukraine:Understanding Viktor Yanukovych and the Party of Region by Taras Kuzio (23 August 2011)
  7. ^ Grumau, S. (2002). Coal mining in Ukraine. Economic Review.44. Retrieved from
  8. ^ Panova, Kateryna (8 July 2011). "Illegal mines profitable, but at massive cost to nation". Kyiv Post. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 

External links[edit]