Siberia--From Mongolia to the Arctic

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    Siberia--From Mongolia to the ArcticAuthor(s): Kathleen BarnesSource: Far Eastern Survey, Vol. 5, No. 10 (May 6, 1936), pp. 93-97Published by: Institute of Pacific RelationsStable URL: .Accessed: 16/06/2014 14:16

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    VOL. V ? 10 NEW YORK, MAY 6, 1936 Annual Suhscription $2.50 ' ' Single Copies - - .23



    China Facing Difficult Afforestation Program Philippine Sugar Quota Increased Possible Abolition of Extrality in Manchoukuo Japanese Rubber Goods Displacing Foreign Products China Reorganizes Government-Owned Shipping Chemistry Opens New Textile Possibilities


    Kathleen Barnes

    A district of the Soviet Union that is but little known to the outside world is the so-called East

    Siberian Region. Events of the international scene or

    startling economic developments have called attention to many of the other districts which make up the vast

    territory of the U.S.S.R., while leaving this area to be considered as a vague hinterland. The East Siberian

    Region, however, is of great importance both because of its economic potentialities which are being exploited, and because of the inclusion within its expanse of the eastern back door to the Union and one of the new front doors to Europe.

    Running somewhat diagonally across the center of

    Siberia, the Region borders to the south on the Mon-

    golian Peoples' Republic. Many be-

    Strategie lieve that in event of war, the Japanese Importance will advance through this district in an

    attempt to cut off the Soviet Far East. The mutual assistance pact which the U.S.S.R. re-

    cently concluded with the Mongolian Republic, how?

    ever, enables the Soviets to face an enemy without

    waiting until the latter is actually battering at this back door. Here in Siberia, moreover, is located the

    Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Republic, whose cul- tural and economic advance under Soviet rule is not to be overlooked in any consideration of the future of all the Mongols.

    To the north, the Region touches the Arctic Sea, through which the Soviets have opened the Northern Sea Passage, making possible trade routes east to the Pacific or west to the Atlantic; the northern part of the Region is being industrially exploited. From north to south, in accordance with the general Soviet objective of a rounded economic development of all the districts of the Union, the resources of the Region are being

    investigated; plans are being laid for great hydroelec- tric development; the timber industry is increasing; coal mining is being pushed and a large ferro-metallur-

    gical base may be built; machine-building is progress- ing along two definite lines; light industry is growing upon the base of the natural raw materials of the

    Region; agriculture is advancing by increase of live stock and grain production.

    Lying between Western Siberia and the more easterly regions of the Yakutsk Republic and the Far Eastern

    Region, the East Siberian Region Huge covers a vast area of about 1,400,000 Land Area square miles. (The district under con?

    sideration is the Region as it existed before the creation of Krasnoiarsk as a separate admin? istrative region.) The climate is of the general con? tinental type, slightly modifled around Lake Baikal by the presence of that large expanse of water; much of the district lies within the area of perpetually frozen soil. The great Siberian plain ends in this Region; east of the Enisei the land "is gathered into folds and furrowed by powerful upheavals." South of Baikal, the area is definitely mountainous, in part with the

    gradual slopes of a watershed, in part Alpine, rising at one spot to the height of 2.17 miles.

    The frozen tundra of the north changes to the forest of the taiga, which in turn gives way to ploughlands and pasture. Through the forests run the many rivers of the Region?means of transportation and potential source of hydroelectric power. Fur-bearing animals

    abound; so do fish, both in the rivers and in Lake

    Baikal, the fifth largest and the deepest lake in the world. The mineral wealth has only recently begun to be adequately explored and is as yet but little ex-

    ploited. It is known, however, to be both great and

    ? 93 ?

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  • 94 Siberia ? From Mongolia to the Arctic May 6

    varied. Realization of the potentialities of the area is somewhat hampered by the smallness of population? slightly over three million in 1933.

    The general scheme of industrialization that is em-

    bracing all of Siberia includes the East Siberian Region. There is as yet, however, no great center of industry such as Kuznetsk, Cheliabinsk or Magnitogorsk. Neither has the district quite the same strategic im-

    portance as has the Far Eastern Region, since it is bounded on most of its southern border by the friendly Mongolian Republic. The capital to be invested in the East Siberian Region during the second Five-Year Plan is only a little more than half that invested in the Far Eastern Region, where industrialization is being pushed, partly for strategic reasons and partly because of the extreme backwardness of the district. (See "Indus? trialization of the Soviet Far East," Far Eastern Sur?

    vey, April 10, 1935, pp. 49-53). The big feature of the

    development in the East Siberian Region is scheduled to begin in the third Piatiletka with the building of

    Angarastroi. The river Angara flows out of the lower end of Lake

    Baikal, and runs north until, under the name of Upper Tunguska, it joins the river Enisei. For

    Angarastroi years, the Soviets have been consider-

    ing how best to use the tremendous reserves of power which these rivers contain. A plan to construct a dam and power station with a capacity many times greater than that of Dnieperstroi has been criticized by foreigners as impractical in view of the lack of industries to utilize the power that would be

    generated. This question of industrial utilization of the power has of course been given considerable atten- tion by the Soviets, and as more has been learned of the resources of the district tentative plans have been made for the centering of various industries near

    Angara. The second Five-Year Plan, it was declared in its

    directives, would create, through general industrial

    development of the Region and through the building of non-hydroelectric stations, the necessary foundation for opening up the power resources of the Angara. "By the end of the second Five-Year Plan an exact working hypothesis must be formed, on the basis of further

    research, for solving the Angara-Enisei problem, and a technical project must be worked out for one of the

    hydroelectric stations." The present intent is to construct a dam on the

    Angara at Baikal, which will possess the advantage of having the lake to regulate the water level. It will be five miles upstream from Irkutsk, which is already an industrial center and which is located on the Trans- Siberian Railroad, thereby eliminating the problem of

    transportation. The water-drop is to be 92 feet and the length of the dam 1,969 yards. The estimated

    yearly production of current is 3,600 million kilowatt

    hours, about eighteen times that of Dnieperstroi. The cost of one kilowatt hour is estimated at 0.4 kopecks.

    Near Irkutsk lie the coal-fields of Cheremkhovo with 75 billion metric tons of coal only 7 or 8 miles from

    the railroad. This coal has been proved New suitable for metallurgical coke, al-

    Metallurgi- though last year it had not yet been cal Base tested in a high-speed furnace. Iron,

    the other necessity for metallurgy, was not believed to exist in the Region until 1931-32, when reserves were discovered which are now given third

    place in the Union, with an estimated extent of 629.5 million metric tons of iron ore and 319.3 million tons of ferrous quartzite. The most important deposit is the Angara-Ilim field. If the necessary transportation can be provided the East Siberian Region can become a large iron and steel center.

    The Angara power could be used in connection with this by developing the production of ferro-alloys. Quartzite is available for ferro-silicon and the manga- nese for ferro-manganese can be obtained at Olkhonsk on Lake Baikal and in Trans-Baikal. It has likewise been suggested that synthetic rubber should be pro? duced here, since that also consumes large amounts of electric current and the necessary lime and salt can be obtained. Aluminum production has been also

    mentioned, for though few reserves of bauxites have

    yet been discovered, nevertheless the clays near Cher? emkhovo can be treated for aluminum oxide.

    The development of a lumber industry could also be brought about in conjunction with the Angara pro- ject, with the saw-mills running on electricity. And for such an industry the Region has abundant supplies. Its wooded area composes about one fourth of that of the whole Union and in the past has been little used. In fact it was estimated that in 1932 only about 14% of the yearly growth of the timber was utilized. Of the

    911,000 square miles of wooded area, 834,000 lie south of the 66 parallel. The main varieties of trees are pine, larch, cedar and fir, with birch and aspen appearing more rarely; the Region is the best of the Union for its supply of cedar. The best timber growth lies along the river valleys, which is fortunate as the rivers

    provide the only means of transportation, north of Baikal.

    This timber can be used in many ways besides the usual saw-mill products. It can be used for charcoal

    in connection with metallurgy, for Vast paper, and for a wood-chemical indus- Timber try. It is urged that as much as pos- Reserves sible of the waste from lumbering and

    from the sawmills should be utilized in these ways. Another point which has been stressed is the need for turning out timber products easy to

    transport, such as veneer, shingles, ready-made parts for houses, etc. This is particularly important since a

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  • 1936 Siberia ? From Mongolia to the Arctic 95


    large amount of the lumber must be used in other parts of the Union or exported through Igarka, the Arctic

    port. Over 12% of the total second Piatiletka funds for this region are being invested in the development of the timber industry. Four timber units?one of them for the construction of ready-built houses?which were begun in the first Five-Year Plan are to be com?

    pleted, and five new ones are to be built. Likewise

    planned are one veneer factory, two furniture plants, one cellulose-paper combinat, and two wood-chemical concerns.

    Other building materials will also be manufactured. Cement is to be produced for the first time in the

    Region, following the completion of a factory in this second Piatiletka. Brick factories will also be built, and a mechanized window-glass factory in Ulan-Ude

    (formerly Verkhneudinsk) will be completed.

    Although the big hydroelectric development will not

    begin until 1938, several small steam-electrical plants are being constructed during the present five-year per? iod (1932-1937): one with a capacity of 24,000 kilo- watts in the Irkutsk-Cheremkhovo district, one in

    Ulan-Ude, and several others. Similarly, although the

    big coal and iron developments are not yet under way, coal mining is being pushed and some ferro-metallurgi- cal development has been started.

    In 1932, it was estimated that the coal reserves of the Region were at least equal to those of Kuznetsk

    Basin and offered a greater variety. Large Coal Besides the Cheremkhovo reserves, Investment there is an important coal bed in the

    Tungusia Basin from which coal can be procured for the boats on the North Sea Route and for the river fleet. There is also an important deposit in Trans-Baikal as well as many local deposits. The varieties of coal include bituminous and anthracite, coking and oil-producing. In 1928, production reached

    only 880,000 tons, but in 1932 the output had increased

    to 2,200,000 tons and it is planned to mine 4,500,000 tons in 1937. Particular emphasis is being laid on coal production during the current Plan and 21% of the capital invested in the heavy industry of the Region goes into this branch.

    An attempt is now being made to free the Region from dependence on other districts for its supply of ferrous-metals through the construction of a new metal-

    lurgical plant at Petrovsk in Trans-Baikal. As to non- ferrous metals, figures for gold production are not in? cluded in the Plan; nor are they obtainable elsewhere. A considerable amount of gold is, however, known to be produced in this district and Irkutsk is the technical and training center not only for the gold industry of this region but also for Yakutsk and the Far Eastern


    Wolfram, tin, mica and fluor-spar exist as a basis for non-ferrous metallurgy. The development of mica in the first Piatiletka had already made this area the main source of supply for this mineral so essential to the country's electric industry. The tin which is found in Trans-Baikal is to be exploited, and the output of

    fluor-spar begun at the end of the first Five-Year Plan is to be developed.

    Of the non-metallic minerals, graphite is being ex?

    ploited and asbestos exists in the Buriat-Mongolian Autonomous Republic; fire-proof clay

    Exploiting and kaolin is to be found near the Mineral Khantinsk china fa...


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