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Soviet Union Table of Contents

Soviet Union


Although plentiful raw materials and labor are available to Soviet industrial planners, geographic factors are especially important in determining how these resources are used. Because the main resources are available in an uneven pattern, industrial policy has produced uneven results. Innovative recombination of labor, fuels, and other raw materials has had some success but has also met substantial resistance.

Raw Materials

In 1980 the Soviet Union produced about 20 percent of total world industrial output, and it led the world in producing oil, cast iron, steel, coke, mineral fertilizers, locomotives, tractors, and cement. This leadership was based on self-sufficiency in nearly all major industrial raw materials, including iron ore, most nonferrous metals, solid and liquid fuels, water power, and minerals. The country has at least some reserves of every industrially valuable nonfuel mineral, although tin, tungsten, and mercury are present only in small quantities and bauxite is imported for the aluminum industry. Despite these material advantages, the country's geography hinders exploitation. Large portions of the remaining coal, oil, natural gas, metal ores, and minerals are located in inaccessible regions with hostile climates.

Data as of May 1989