According to an investigation conducted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), there are around 2,500 illegal mining pits located across Ukraine. Most of the illegal “kopanki” pits are located in the Donbas region near Donetsk. Experts in the mining industry estimate that tens of thousands of illegal miners are working in these pits.
The Trade Union of the Coal Miners in Ukraine estimate that between 6 to 7 million tons of coal is illegally extracted from these mines each year. With the average price of a ton of coal being $100, the illegal coal mined from Ukraine could be worth up to $700 Million per year.
7 million tons of coal represents 11 percent of the country’s total coal output.
Source: Denys Kanzansky and Serhly Harmash, “Ukraine’s Illegal coal mines: dirty, dangerous, deadly,” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, May 26, 2014.