Ukrainian Coal

Workers turn coal to coke under the threat of shelling from separatists

Ukrainian Coal The conflict in Ukraine has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced 2 million. But the conflict has also disrupted business, including one crucial steel-producing plant on the front lines of the war.
As the Ukrainian army battles well-armed Russian separatists, the hulking Metinvest plant in eastern Ukraine continues to process coal into coke, a high grade fuel essential for manufacturing steel. The plant is considered an indispensable part of Ukraine's economy, even as it continues functioning under repeated attacks in a war zone. "There have been a lot of bad days here. The worst was when we were attacked by a series of rockets...Everything was on fire and smoking, people died that day", says the Director of the plant, Musa Magomedov. "Sometimes you don’t realize there is shooting around. It blends in with all of the mechanical sounds." American assistance has been vital for keeping the plant open. Before the war, the plant received 20% of it coal from the U.S. Now it's closer to 50%. Without this support, the plant, the surrounding town and even Ukraine as a whole would be in jeopardy. "It's a domino principle", says Magomedov. "If we leave this place...the metal price will be less competitive, people will leave those factories...we can lose the country in the end."

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