Sign Up  |  Login

Summer Study Abroad: Update on Recent Diplomatic Events

SRAS Announces Special Moscow-St.Petersburg Summer RSL Program for 2018

Summer Study Abroad: Important Updates

The State of Study Abroad in Russia

Russian Studies Abroad (RSA) Splits Into Two Programs

Join SRAS at NAFSA and Forum

SRAS and SPBGIKIT Language Partnership: The Year in Review

SRAS Site Visit to Irkutsk

Summer Programs Abroad - 2018

Travel Alert for Russian Cities: May 25 - July 25, 2018

Scholarships Available!

Stetson University and SRAS Announce New Partnership

Call for Papers: Vestnik!

Find Us on Facebook

The following resource focuses on resource extraction and export in Russia, which contributes not only the majority of Russia's GDP, but also greatly to Russia's political power. We've structured this Library entry to give a wide view of the Russian markets, Russia's position in world markets and the political implications of both.

Russian Resources - oil, metals, agriculture, and more.


  1. Gazprom's new headquarters to be built in St. PetersburgRussian Resources and Related Companies
    A.  Aluminium
    B.  Diamonds and Other Gemstones
    C.  Gold
    D.  Iron, Coal, and Steel
    E.  Oil and Gas
    F.  Other Metals
    G.  Titanium and Magnesium
    H.  Uranium
  2. Agriculture in Russia
    A. Crops
    B. Livestock and Dairy
    C. Agribusiness
  3. Timber in Russia

Color Code:   Red links are to sites only in Russian.  
                     Gray links have English available.                                What is "The Library?" 


1.  Russian Resources and Related Companies          report an error      back to top
Please note that Russian resource markets have been incredibly dynamic in recent years. Company mergers and recent discoveries of new deposits have kept statistics, names, and ownership in constant flux. The following information is current as of at least 2014. Most resource statistics were taken from the 2014 edition of USGS mineral report.

     A.  Aluminium          report an error       back to top
Aluminium is obtained from alumina, which itself is obtained from bauxite ore. Russia controls less than 1% of the world's bauxite but produces just over 8% of all aluminum. This is possible in large part due to Russia's relatively cheap supplies of electricity. Aluminum is useful in food packaging, but also essential to modern aircraft (including commercial airliners, space shuttles, and fighter jets).

Rusal controls almost 9% of the world's aluminum production (it also owns smelters in Africa). It became the world's largest aluminum company after an $8 billion expansion project that involved buying Sual, its only major Russian competitor. It took the number one place from Alcoa, an American company that now stands in second place.

     B. Diamonds and Gemstones          report an error       back to top
Russia is a world leader in both natural diamond and artificial diamond production. In volume, Russia controls 22.5% of global gemstone production and 19% of the global production of industrial grade diamonds.

Alrosa is Russia's diamond monopoly. Federal, regional, and local governments own about 67% of the company, with the rest held by employees and other investors. The company is worth upwards of 8 billion USD and declared some 915 million USD in profits for 2012

Lev Leviev is also worth mentioning. He assisted the former Soviet Union in setting up its diamond enterprises in the 1980s. He later took over several of them in Central Asia in the 90s. He has since become a major competitor for DeBeers and now controls as much as one third of the world's diamond trade. Leviev distributes 30 million USD a year in the FSU to restore synagogues and "support the restoration of the Jewish way of life." He now holds Israeli citizenship.

     C. Gold          report an error      back to top
Russia is considered the world's largest unexplored gold territory, with many of its sizable deposits having been only recently discovered. Estimates vary quite widely, but Russia likely holds 25-40% of the world's unmined gold supply. Russia is currently the fourth largest gold producer in the world and is sixth on the list of the world's largest gold reserves and rumored to be buying gold in enormous quantities.

Polyus Gold was formed when Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel spun off its holdings in gold. Both companies at the time were owned by Interros, controlled by Russian oligarchs Vladimir Potanin and Mikhail Prokhorov. Potanin sold his shares (37.9%) to Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov in 2009. Prokhorov sold his shares in 2013 to Russian billionaires Zelimkhan Mutsoev (18.5%) and Гавриила Юшваева (19.28%). Polyus is the largest Russian gold producer and holds a 20% stake in Gold Fields, one of Africa's largest gold producers. Profit for 2012: more than 980 million USD. The company is traded on the Russian, London, and New York stock exchanges and is worth about 9.5 billion USD. 

Petropavlovsk is Russia's number two gold producer. Founded by English mining magnate Peter Hambro, this company is listed on the London Stock Exchange although it focuses nearly exclusively on developing Russian deposits. The company recorded a net loss of more than $700 million USD for 2013 - largely due to corporate and debt restructuring and investments to automate processes and cut costs.

Polymetal is Russia's number four gold producer, but is also Russia's top silver producer and the world's third largest silver producer. It has investments in Russia and Kazakhstan. Profit for 2012: more than 401 million USD.

The gold industry is still highly fractured in Russia, but also currently consolidating. While there were over 600 companies in play in 2004, that number has shrunk to 400 today.

     D. Iron, Coal, and Steel          report an error       back to top
Russia may hold as much as 30% of the world's iron. It is the world's third largest coal producer and contains coal reserves second only to the US. Russia also produces 4% of the world's steel and is the world's seventh largest steel exporter. Because of the abundance of both iron and coal, Russian steel companies are some of the world's most profitable. The companies below, like most steel companies world-wide, hold interests in all three resources.

Severstal posted nearly two billion USD in profit for 2013. The company was led to its current status by Alexey Mordashov, its Russian CEO who is also a major shareholder. The company was involved in 2006 in a highly publicized merger deal with Arcelor, a Luxembourg-based steel company, which would have created the world's largest steel producer. The deal fell through and Arcelor was then merged with the Indian company Mittal (already the world's biggest steel company). Severstal International (also known as Severstal North America) is one of the largest steelmakers in the United States.
     Key American Holdings: Rouge Steel in Michigan was aquired in 2003 for 285.5 million USD and is now known as Sverstal Dearborn. Severstal Columbus holds a "next generation steel plant" built by several steel industry veterans in Mississippi. The company has also bought significant shares of the American coal and steel processing companies with which it works.

Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works (Magnitka; MMK) posted 174 million USD in profit for 2013. The original factory was pronounced a "hero factory" of the Soviet Union for the steel it made for Soviet tanks, but today is completely held by private investors. It also built a new factory in India worth 10 billion USD, and has purchased a plant in Turkey worth about 2 billion USD total.
     American Holdings: in 2007, the company was planning to build a 1 billion USD steel plant in Ohio, but the economic crisis forced the company to put those plans on hold.

Mechel is was once one of Russia's major players in iron, coal, nickle, steel, and energy, valued at over $24 billion. However, a global drop in metals prices, global financial crises, and the company's overextended debt have caused major problems. Although it has restructured its debt, the Russian government has denied the company a bailout and many expect its pending bankruptsy. The company recorded a net loss of $734 million in 2013 and lost most of its market capitalization.

Evraz produces more steel in Russia than any other company and recorded nearly 1.87 billion in profit for 2008. Evraz accounts for 23% of the world's production of rails for railroad construction. Russian railways buys nearly 60% of this production. While nearly all Evraz's activities are in Russia, and while nearly all staff including management are Russian, the company is registered in Luxembourg.
     American Holdings: Oregon Steel Mills in Oregon was aquired for 2.3 billion in 2007. Claymont Steel Holdings in Delaware was purchased for 565 million USD in 2008. IPSCO, with assets in the US and Canada, was purchased jointly with TMK Stratcor, an American company, for 4.025 billion USD in June, 2008.

Novolipetsk Steel (NLMK) produced 15% of all Russian steel in 2008. Its gross profit for 2012 amounted to 2.9 billion USD and its market value is ranked second in Russia's heavy-hitting market. Originally opened as a state-owned enterprise in 1931, the factory has recently turned into a leader in upgrading equipment and, since 2006, in aquiring assets abroad.
     American Holdings: Owns 50% of Duferco's U.S. assets. Acquired John Maneely Steel in Ohio for 3.53 billion in 2008 and shortly thereafter aquired Beta Steel in Indiana for an additional 400 million USD.

     E. Oil and Gas          report an error      back to top
Russia holds 17 billion tons of oil and 48 billion cubic meters of gas. The country's recoverable oil reserves in the C1 category (proven reserves) totals 17.8 billion tons; category C2 (preliminary estimated reserves) is 10.2 billion tons, according to data collected by the Russian government on January 1, 2012. The same data shows gas at 48.8 trillion cubic meters C1 category, 19.6 trillion cubic meters the C2 category. Russia may contain as much as 35% of the world's supply of natural gas. It has proven reserves nearly twice that of Iran, the number two spot holder. Its reserves of oil are debated, but the US Geologic Survey estimates that they may be as high as 25% of the world's oil. The US Department of Energy states: "Russia is also the world's largest exporter of natural gas, the second largest oil exporter, and the third largest energy consumer." Oil and gas account for 68% of Russian exports, half of state revenues, and 20% of GDP.

Gazprom is Russia's largest company overall and produces 14% of the world's natural gas. Via its purchase of oil company Sibneft, now renamed Gazpromneft, the country also controls substantial amounts of oil. Gazprom is the world's thirteenth largest company in terms of market capitalization. 2013 profits were declared at more than 35 billion USD. Gazprom has a monopoly on natural gas exports from Russia, but not on domestic production; both Lukoil and Rosneft also produce substantial amounts of natural gas. More info on Gazprom Assets from the SRAS Encyclopedia. Read more from Wikipedia.

Lukoil is Russia's largest oil company (and sixth largest in the world). It owns wells, refineries, and a chain of gas stations which has been franchised into the US. Net income declared for 2012 amounted to nearly 10.1 billion. It is unique among Russian hydrocarbon companies in that the majority of its shares are held by minority stock holders. 

Rosneft became a major player in Russian oil after its controversial takeover of Yukos' main oil production unit. For 2012, total profits were reported at more than 9 billion USD. Rosneft is majority owned by the Russian government and made headlines for a planned 20 billion USD IPO, which was opposed by such figures as George Soros who said that if investors bought stock in Rosneft, it would be tantamount to approving of robbery (referring to the Yukos takeover). Rosneft has revised its IPO to 10 billion (it actually made 10.4 billion, making it the fifth largest ever IPO). As Erik Kraus, a Moscow financial analyst, forewarned, investors, knowing a profitable proposition when they see one, will "hold their noses" and buy.

Surgutneftegas is another of Russia's largest publicly traded oil companies. With revenues of more than 15 billion per year, it's also among the world's largest companies. It also stands out on the Russian market as a company dedicated to reinvesting profits into new technologies and exploring new deposits.

Article: Oil Reserves by Category (wikipedia entry)

Article: The Bases of a New Organisation of the Russian Oil Sector: Between Private and State Ownership (highly informative on the current situation in Russia).

Also: Yukos was once one of Russia's largest and most profitable oil companies. After it was accused of tax evasion and its CEO placed in jail on a multitude of charges that many say were politically motivated, the company went through a prolonged bankruptcy and was dissolved at the end of 2007. Its website has since been taken offline. More information from SRAS

     F. Other Metals          report an error       back to top
Russia produces 17% of the world's nickel (used in making stainless steel and the batteries used in many hybrid cars). Russia also produces 41% of the world's palladium (used in everything from catalytic converters to electronics to dental equipment), 8% of the world's cobalt (essential in the construction of space craft and turbine engines), 9% of all boron (used in the manufacture of glass and ceramic), 4% of all cadmium (household batteries), and 5% of all tungsten (light bulbs, electronics, heating equipment).

Norilsk Nickel is one of Russia's largest mining and metals companies. It controls the majority of Russia's nickel, copper, and palladium production, and faces only fractured competition from within Russia. It produced 300,000 tons of nickel in 2012 alone. Norilsk Nickel is owned by the conglomerate Interros Holding, headed by Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin. Its fate has long been undecided, however. In 2006, it was rumored that it may be merged with Alrosa, Russia's diamond monopoly in a move some analysts say may be the beginning of a state-controlled mining monopoly. That move never happened. Now, Rusal, Russia's number-one aluminum producer, is poised to buy a blocking share of the company. Investors are wondering, however, just how advantageous the move will be for either company.

Mechel, primarily a steel producer, also produces nickel (about 5% of Russian production).

UfaleiNikel is also often listed as major producer, though its production of 10,700 tons per year is dwarfed by Norilsk's production.

Two companies that are often listed as "major competitors" for copper production: UGMK, and Russian Copper Company

     G. Titanium and Magnesium          report an error      back to top
About 22% of the world's titanium sponge extraction occurs in Russia. Titanium sponge is the major source of titanium, one of the world's strongest metals, which is used in military vehicles, arms manufacture, nuclear power stations, aircraft and shipbuilding, and drilling equipment. Russia also produces about 4.3% of the world's magnesium, most often used to raise the melting point of alloys (but has widely varied uses in agriculture, medicine, industry, and chemistry).

VSMPO-Avisma is the world's largest titanium company, controlling 30% of the global market and all of Russia's exported titanium. VSMPO-Avisma also mines substantial amounts of magnesium. Rosoboronexport, Russia's state arms export monopoly, owns 51% of the company, with the rest held by private Russian investors. 

Solikamsk is Russia's number two magnesium producer - producing 17,600 tons per year, just behind VSMPO-Avisma's 19,000. 

     H. Uranium          report an error      back to top
Russia controls 10% of the world's total uranium reserves and supplies about 8% of the world's needs. Both numbers are significantly higher if Russia's interests in uranium mining and export in Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan are also considered.  

TVEL is a private company, but wholly owned and managed by the Federal Atomic Energy Agency (FAAE). TVEL controls 100% of uranium mining in Russia, which takes place mostly in the Chita Region by a TVEL subsidiary, the Priargunskiy Mining and Chemical Combine (PMCC)

Texsnabexport (Tenex) is also registered as a private company and is owned and managed by the FAAE. It controls 100% of uranium exports from Russia as well as supplies various materials to factories owned by the FAAE and commercially imports speciality goods such as medical, biotech, and scientific equipment and protective clothing. 

2.  Russian Agriculture          report an error       back to top 
Agriculture in Russia collapsed following the fall the USSR and has since suffered from underinvestment and problematic legislation on land ownership. Russia has long imported much of its agricultural needs from as far away as America and Argentina. That is beginning to change, however.  

     A. Crops          report an error      back to top 
Russia produced 43.0 million tons of wheat in 2012, and on average, Russia is the fifth largest producer of wheat. However, Russia's capacity for agricultural production is considerably greater. If Russia were to achieve the production levels recorded in 1992 again, it would be in first place in grain production overall. Russia is also number three in potato production, after China and India. However, in this category as well, Russia's potential is far greater – a majority of those potatoes are grown on small farms – often without machinery, fertilizer, or even extensive irrigation.

     B. Livestock and Dairy          report an error      back to top 
While the total amount of livestock in Russia is only about 60% of 1993 levels, production efficiency has approximately doubled. In 2012, Russia ranked fifth in milk production (in calculations that took Russia and Ukraine as a single entity). While production of most products is still quite small on world standards, as much as 80% of Russia's potential agricultural land is currently unused, meaning that the production potential is great.

     C. Agribusiness in Russia          report an error      back to top 
Most major agribusiness companies in Russia are run by foreigners. Most are also looking to aggressively expand.

Black Earth Farming is a Swedish company that recently made considerable noise when it raised more than 115 million dollars from investors for an ambitious expansion. The company now controls about 244,000 hectares (over 1100 square miles) in southern Russia.

Russian Farms is a Russian group of companies chaired by a dual Russian-American citizen and which is attempting to bring modern machinery, processing, and distribution to Russian agriculture. The firm has recently received media coverage inside Russia when President Putin visited one of its dairy production units.

Heartland Farms Penza is a British-run business controlling 27,000 hectares in the Volga Region. They are currently seeking additional funds to expand (by perhaps as much as 150,000 hectares) and is currently working on contracts from Pepsi and Heinz.

Razgulay is a Russian group of companies involved primarily in grain, sugar, and rice production.

Rusagro is a Russian agroindustrial holding focusing mostly on sugar and meat. 

Several professional unions unite various agricultural sectors in Russia including: Russian Grain UnionUnion of Russian Sugar Producers; Russian Dairy Union; Union of Russian Brewers; Russian Meat Union.

3. Timber in Russia          report an error      back to top
Russia contains the world's largest forest reserves, roughly twice that of Brazil, which holds the number two spot for forested land and three times that of Canada, which is third. As of 2006, Russia was the world's fifth largest producer of forest products by volume, although it may be operating at as little as 10% of its sustainable capacity.  

4. Freight Transport          report an error      back to top

Gazprom operates the world's largest gas pipeline network, known as The United Gas Transmission System. It includes the controversial Blue Stream pipeline in the Black Sea and the equally controversial Nord Stream (formerly known as North European Gas Pipeline),which has greatly angered Poland for bypassing its territory, as well as investments in the pipelines of other countries.

Transneft is Russia's state run oil pipeline company and is responsible for transporting the vast majority of Russia's crude. Profits for 2011 were 6 billion USD.

Caspian Pipeline Consortium is owned by Russia, Kazakhstan, Oman, and private investors. Its one pipeline carries crude oil from Tengiz, Kazakhstan to the Russian port of Novorossiysk.

Russian Railways is Russia's state-owned railway monopoly and ships most of Russia's non-hydrocarbon exports. It is also involved in most major resource developments, providing transport for both hydrocarbon and mineral resources. The company earned approximately 370 million USD in profits for 2008. Vladimir Yakunin, its president, is widely known for his charisma, energy, and efficiency. He is also a close personal friend of Vladimir Putin and was rumored to be an underdog on Putin's shortlist of possible presidential successors for the elections in 2008. 

Sovcomflot is Russia's largest shipping company and is specialized in shipping energy products. Originally a part of the Soviet navy, it was privatized in 1988 but remains majority owned by the state. It operates a total of 59 ships and has another 11, including two LNG (liquified natural gas) tankers, on order.

Other ship-owning companies serving Russian freight markets are Prisco, which operates another 35 tankers and Novoship, which operates a total of 58 ships and which Sovcomflot is currently finishing a takeover of by purchasing the remaining 9.5% share of the company it hasn't already purchased.

5.  Government Agencies          report an error      back to top

Ministry of Natural Resources is charged with overseeing the "study, renewal, and conservation" of Russia's forests, subsoil resources, water supplies, and habitats. 

The Federal Subsoil Resources Management Agency (Rosnedra) grants subsoil use (mining) licences in conjunction with regional authorities and regulates subsoil activities. The agency funds and manages scientific studies, expeditions, and appraises the worth of subsoil resources. 

The Federal Supervisory Natural Resources Management Service (Rosprirodnadzor) oversees geological surveys, exploitation and protection of natural resources, and compliance with Russian and international law. It may inspect enterprises and suggest government policies but may not charge for its services or create regulations.

Ministry of Energy (Minenergo) develops energy policies and regulations. It also oversees all Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) involving the use of subsoil resources.

Ministry of Industry and Trade (Minpromtorg) - suggests and implements state policy and manages state funds and property that pertain to "mechanical engineering, metallurgical, chemical, petrochemical, biotech, medical, light industry, timber, pulp-and-paper, woodworking, aviation, ship-building, electronics, radio, communications, ammunition and speciality chemistry, chemical disarmament, and conventional arms."

The Federal Agency on Technical Regulating and Metrology (Rosstandart) is a federal executive body rendering state services and administering state property in the fields of technical regulations and metrology. The agency licenses those that manufacture and maintain measurement instrumentation. It also implements state regulations on metrology.

ROSATOM evolved from the Ministry of Nuclear Engineering and Industry of the USSR. It is now both a state agency and a state-contolled corporate conglomerate "promoting international cooperation on peaceful uses of nuclear power." It regulates Russia's nuclear energy complex, is a major purchaser and supplier of Uranium internationaly and is responsible "for meeting Russia's commitments in the nuclear industry with a specific focus on international nuclear non-proliferation effort." For more information, see this Wikipedia article.

The State Fund of Precious Metals and Stones for Securing, Issuing, and Utilizing Precious Metals and Stones (Gokhran), a division of the Ministry of Finance, is responsible for the government reserves of precious metals and stones. It is a major purchaser of raw diamonds and gold, and a major supplier to jewelry makers and gem finishers. 

     More Business Government Links>>>

6. Business Unions          report an error      back to top

The International Metallurgists Union  is a Russia-based organization uniting metal producers from throughout the FSU and a few from other countries as well (mostly Germany). The union seeks to lobby government policy as well as encourage efficient management of and cooperation between those involved in the production of metal.

Russian Union of Metal and Steel Suppliers is, in large part, a marketing organization seeking to improve the position of Russian metals at home and abroad and to educate metal producers in marketing and sales. 

RosAgroMash is a union of Russia's producers of agricultural machinery.

     More Russian Business Organizations >>>

7.  Labor Unions          report an error       back to top

Russia's Labor Union of Coal Miners represents coal miners in Russia's major coal-producing regions. Coal miners once had one of the strongest unions under the USSR and enjoyed high wages and wide benefits throughout the Soviet era. The miners' strikes in 1989 and 1991 proved to be important events in what would eventually be the complete dissolution of the USSR. In recent years, however, as several mines in unprofitable areas have gone bankrupt, and new mines are more automated, membership in coal miner's unions has plummeted as has the unions' political clout. 

Russian Union of Metal Workers and Miners has been around since tsarist times. They were last featured in the international media when contract talks with Norilsk Nickel failed and 57 of its members went on a hunger strike until the government stepped in to restart the negotiations.

Russian Oil, Gas, and Construction Workers Union is Russia's largest with 1.5 million members. It is also one of the quietest, with no major contract disputes or strikes in recent history. 

     More Labor Unions >>>

8. Related Education Programs in Russia          report an error      back to top

Politics in Russia - a full page of programs focused on politics, history, and language.

Business in Russia - a full page of programs focused on business, economy, and language.

Article: Choosing an MBA program in Russia  

9.  More Information and News          report an error      back to top delivers comprehensive information on all aspects of the oil and gas industry.

Eurasian Energy Analysis is a blog focused on oil and gas - as well as their political connections. offers substantial information about the world steel industry and markets.

Russian Jewelers Guild offers a free news service on precious metals and stones.

The National Threat Initiative is an organization devoted to reducing the threat of nuclear attacks. As part of this effort, they provide one of the most informative websites about the world uranium market.  Note that the website is available in two languages: Russian and English!

The Aluminum Association delivers a free news service, a monthly online publication, and market analysis for the aluminum industry.   

     More Russian Business News Sources >>>

10.  Events and Other Links          report an error      back to top

International Oil and Gas Week is an annual, week long series of presentations and speeches about the Russian market and Russia's place in international markets.  Hosted by RosCon, a major Russian consulting firm for oil, gas, mining, and technology firms.

Metal-Expo is an event hosted in Russia that attracts hundreds of metals companies from all over the world every year. 

Mining World is a series of trade shows in Russia, Central Asia, and China where mining equipment is showcased. 

Russian and CIS Metals and Mining Week is organized yearly in Moscow by Adam Smith Conferences. 

International Jewelry Exibition JUNWEX is Russia's biggest business association at the Russian jewelry market, organizing major exhibitions of jewelry and gemstones in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. 

SRAS's library entries on business are compiled in partnership with the US Russia Chamber of Commerce of New England (SRAS is a member) and Alinga Consulting Group (a partner firm of SRAS). 

« back to The Library archive