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Asbestos showed an export character

Export of products to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region allowed producers of chrysotile-asbestos to gain a foothold in the rating of the largest exporters of Russia

Asbestos showed an export character
Photo: Infographics EastRussia
Russian raw materials, which received a good impetus against the background of the devaluation of the ruble, continue to develop in export markets. The rating of the largest domestic exporting companies, prepared by the Expert magazine, gives the dynamics, first of all, in terms of traditional resources - oil, gas, coal, metal. At the same time, one cannot fail to note the “newcomers” of the rating - four companies in the segment of the building materials industry were included in the list of 200 largest exporters at once, two of which produce chrysotile asbestos.

Asbestos-based building materials are traditionally considered one of the cheapest - this natural mineral allows us to produce high-quality products with a long service life. Russia possesses the world's largest raw material base for chrysotile asbestos. The state balance includes 11 mineral deposits with total reserves of more than 100 million tons. Russian mining enterprises operate three deposits - Bazhenovskoye, Kiembaevskoye and Ak-Dovurakskoye. Their total reserves are 77,8 million tons of chrysotile.

The companies "Uralasbest" and "Orenburg minerals", marked in the rating of the largest domestic export companies, occupy 142 and 153 places respectively. According to statistics, for 2015 year the total volume of exports of these enterprises amounted to 171,7 million dollars.

In recent years, the total production of chrysotile asbestos in Russia has consistently exceeded 1 million tons per year. At the same time, the order of 75% of raw materials is exported to more than 20 countries, primarily in the Asia-Pacific region. According to the customs statistics of the foreign trade of the Russian Federation, the largest importers of Russian asbestos in 2015 and 2016 were India (more than 300 thousand tons), China (more than 162 thousand tons), Indonesia (more than 142 thousand tons), Vietnam (over 78 thousand tons). Sri Lanka (more than 55 thousand tons) and Thailand (more than 40 thousand tons).

According to experts interviewed by EastRussia, the demand for Russian asbestos could be much higher (and the companies' figures are impressive), if it were not for the policy of individual states to close their markets for these products. "It's abnormal when half of the world, as we see, is actively consuming Russian chrysotile asbestos for the production of building materials - and the other half is belligerently ignoring this product," said one expert.

As noted by AIF, for several years the so-called anti-asbestos lobby has developed in the West, which advocates a ban on the use of asbestos materials at the level of entire states. The publication describes the history of asbestos as one of the most striking examples of international commercial wars. So, the success of the lobby was the total closure of the markets of a number of countries for asbestos materials. Due to the crowding out of one of the cheapest and durable building materials, the markets were filled with more expensive synthetics, in addition, a fundamentally new market was formed - by the widespread disposal of asbestos, its traces and its derivatives.

The steady growth of the economies of the countries of South-East Asia increases the need for mass production of practical and wear-resistant materials. What is important, with similar physical indicators, products based on chrysotile-asbestos are consistently cheaper and more durable. "In terms of industrial safety policy that India, that China, and even more so - Thailand, it is long ago not the countries that they were ten years ago, at a stage of rapid growth," the expert continues. - Today, these countries are much more concerned about the environment, the working conditions for their citizens, the comfort for residents of cities and villages. Therefore, their choice in favor of supplies of building materials from Russia is a conscious decision, which is primarily dictated by their national economic interests. "

In the chrysotile industry of Russia, as well as in interrelated industries, about 30 thousand industrial-production personnel are employed. At the same time, a significant part of industry enterprises are city-forming. Given this factor, the extraction of chrysotile and the production of materials and products from it affects the interests of at least 250 thousands of people.

At the same time, it is difficult to assess the development potential of the Russian chrysolite industry today. Despite the development of ties with the APR market, there are reasons for skepticism in Russia: a decrease in the volume of state construction, problems with maintaining single-industry towns, marketing losses from the impact of the anti-asbestos campaign. Research carried out in Russia by the Higher School of Economics has shown that even a small increase in the share of chrysotile-containing materials in housing and communal services will lead to annual multi-billion dollar savings in budgetary funds, create new jobs and provide several single-industry towns with constant orders. True, for some reason this is not yet happening: apparently, despite the crisis, we have not yet learned how to economize on construction in the same way as our neighbors in the APR do. 

EastRussia Help

Contrary to the scandalous statements of Western activists, neither in Russia, nor in other countries producing and using chrysotile-asbestos, there is no negative impact from the mineral. Moreover, all new studies only confirm that the controlled use of chrysotile-containing materials can not cause harm to health.

The results published in January 2016 on the portal The study "The attitude of professional activity and the impact of asbestos on the risk of developing mesothelioma and lung cancer", conducted by a number of large specialists, refute the theory on which a large-scale campaign was launched to discredit and ban asbestos: the connection between chrysotile and lung diseases was not found in any of the affected. Most importantly, the authors of the report are experts who previously published articles directed against the mineral.

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