San José State University
Thayer Watkins
Silicon Valley
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The Soviet Steel City at Magnitogorsk

About seventy miles east of the continental divide of the Ural Mountains in Russia there are some hills that are composed largely iron ore. Because of their iron content they attrack compasses and the mountain comprising these two hills was therefore called Magnet Mountain, in Russian Magnitogorsk. Long before the iron content of the hills were known the local Bashkir inhabitants called them Eye-Derliu and Atach; the Russian name for them is Magnitnaya. These hills were notable even before their iron content was known because they were largley bare. Plants do not grow well in high-grade iron ore.

In the early 1700's a Czarist military output was established at Chelyabinsk about 120 miles to the northwest of the hills. Russians from Chelyabinsk came to the area to, among other things, collect taxes. The Russians noticed that their compasses were attacked to the hill Eye-Derliu. They named the mountain, Magnet Mountain, Magnitogorsk. The next year those Russians came back with prospecting equipment and established that Magnitogorsk contained high-grade iron ore.

In 1747 the first commercial mining operations at Magnitogorsk were established by a Russain named Myasnikov. The ore was accumulated in stockpiles until winter when it was easier to transport. It was taken about seventy miles to the town of Beloretsk where it was smeltered using charcoal.

In 1753 Magnitogorsk was given by the Carina to Myasnikov and his partner. In the early 1930's called for the development of an iron and steel complex at Magnitogorsk to utilize the iron ore. What was not immediately obvious is that despite the availability of this immense natural source of iron ore its economic development is not justified. Magnitogorsk lies at a great distance for the sources of coal and the cost of transporting the coal to Magnitogorsk takes away the benefit of the iron ore. In other words the value of the iron and steel produced at Magnitogorsk is less than the cost of producing it.

(To be continued.)

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