The mineral potential of the Republic of Komi represented by a complex variety of fuels, metallic and nonmetallic minerals, and groundwater is important for the Russian economy. The deposits explored in the republic contain the following percentage of the total Russia’s reserves: oil - about 3%, coal - 4.5%, barite - 13%, bauxite - 30%, titanium - about 50%, quartz-vein of raw material - about 80%.
The most significant resources for the Republic of Komi are fuel and energy, because of their location on the territory of a large part of the Timan-Pechora oil province and the large Pechora coal basin and the three pools shale. The volume of reserves and production of fossil fuels in the country characterize it as the main fuel supply for the European North of Russia.
The Pechora Coal Basin is the second in Russia basin in terms of stocks and a large long-term resource base for the development of coke, energy, in the long run – methane production.
On its territory there are about 30 known deposits of coal and coal shows, including 11 explored deposits. The total geological reserves in the Pechora coal basin are estimated at 242 bln tons of coal, including 58.4 bln tons of standard quality coal. Around 3.99 bln tons of coal has been developed and prepared for industrial development.
Currently, 3 fields are in exploitation: Vorkuta Coalfield, Vorgashor Coalfield and Inta Coalfield. A small amount of coal is produced in the quarry of Yunyaga Coalfield. It is possible to organize coal production in the Seida Field that contains quality steam coal including one by the open-cast method. The reserves of coking coal have been prepared for working out by opencast mining in Syryaga Area.
The reserves and resources of raw hydrocarbon minerals in the republic are concentrated in central and southern parts of the Timan-Pechora Oil and Gas Province.
The oil reserves have been recorded for 131 fields, of which 114 are oil fields, 8 - oil and gas condensate, 4 - oil and gas, 5 - gas and oil. The total amount of recoverable oil reserves in categories A + B + C1 exceeds 600 mln tons. More than 60% of residual recoverable oil reserves are concentrated in the three major fields: oilfields in Yarega and Usinsk, and oil and gas oil and gas condensate in Vozey Field. The reserves of fuel gas have been recorded for 132 fields of hydrocarbons, including free gas in 38 fields, associated gas (dissolved in oil gas, gas cap) in 94 fields. The volume of gas reserves in categories A + B + C1 is about 140 bln cu m. About half the volume is contained in the major Vuktyl Gas Condensate Field.
Very considerable resources of oil shale are concentrated in the three shale-bearing areas amounting to 62 bln tons, including over 6 bln tons of estimated reserves. Oil shale is suitable for almost any up-to-date spheres of application, including energy clinker production, production of resin, propellants, pharmaceuticals, and micronutrients.
The peat resource base includes 4,840 deposits and occurrences with the ultimate and probable reserves of 8.4 bln tons. The economic explored reserves account for 452.9 mln tons (about 200 fields).
The resources of metallic minerals include ores of ferrous metals (titanium, manganese, chromium), non-ferrous metals (aluminum, copper, lead, zinc), rare (niobium, tantalum, tungsten, molybdenum), scattered (gallium, scandium) and rare earth metals (cerium, yttrium). Of the precious metals gold predominates and there are also occurrences of silver and platinum. There are known occurrences of diamonds.
The Republic of Komi is the largest and Russia’s most promising source of raw bauxite ore. Within the Timan Ridge, there have been identified and explored in varying degrees the bauxite deposits of the two areas: Mid-Timan and South Timan.
The basic top quality bauxite reserves (68% of stocks in the province) is concentrated in Mid-Timan Bauxite Area. Here the Vorykvin field group of lateritic bauxite (Vezhayu-Vorykvin, Upper Schugor and Eastern) has been discovered; the fields are very promising in terms of mining and geological conditions, mainly, for opencast development. The bauxite has average and top quality which allows to use it for production of alumina, abrasives, refractories, and to extract rare metals in passing during the process of alumina production, in particular, gallium and vanadium, and in prospect – niobium, the rare earths and scandium.
The Mid-Timan bauxite mine operates and develops in the largest Vezhayu-Vorykvin Field supplying bauxite companies in the Urals and the North-West Russia with bauxite. A major alumina company with the capacity of 1.2 mln tons per annum is being prepared to be built in the republic. After its commission the annual output of bauxite ore in Mid-Timan may rise upto 6 mln tons.
The raw material base of titanium ore is the largest in Russia and CIS. Unique in terms of reserves is the Yarega Oil Titanium Field (containing about 50% of the Russian reserves). The project titled "The integrated development of the Yarega Oil Titanium Field" is under way in Komi. The project ensures the development of the field with the extraction and processing of both oil and titanium. The design capacity of the business will amount to 1.2 mln tons of titanium ore per year. The titanium concentrate will be processed for production of titanium-silicon ligation and titanium slag, which will provide its own metallurgical and pigment operation with the raw minerals.
Complementary to the titanium ore potential, is the Pizhma Field containing the estimated reserves, which is located in the undeveloped area of the Mid-Timan. Geotehnoservis, Ltd is carrying out exploratory work in a part of the field to prepare the industrial stocks for further titanium ore production.
Manganese ore is now classified as very scarce. The raw zinc ore base of the republic includes Parnokskoye Iron-manganese Field that is located on the western slope of the Sub-Polar Urals. More qualitative types of peroxide of manganese ores predominates in its stock structure.
In Komi there is a part of the Russia’s biggest chromite-bearing masses in the Polar Urals. Several ore fields with the resource potential of about 40 mln tons of chromite ore have been revealed.
The republic has a developed mineral resource base of alluvial gold. Almost all the gold reserves are located in Kozhim Ore-placer District where dozens of placer deposits have been discovered. Good prospects are in store for the indigenous gold sites on the western slope of the Polar Urals. The total reserves of placer and native gold in Komi amount to around 50 tons and the probable reserves of gold are more than 200 tons.
Non-metallic minerals are widespread in the republic to be used as mining and chemical (barite, rock and potassium salts, phosphates, carbonates for the chemical industry), mine technical (plaster, glass raw materials, zeolite and bentonite), piezooptic and quartz (vein quartz, piezo-quartz, rock crystal) raw materials. There is a raw material for metallurgy (refractory clay, flux and dolomite, limestone, molding materials), jewelry and gem minerals (amethyst, jade, jade), mineral-building materials (limestone, dolomite, marble, quartzite, sand, gravel).
Barite, quartz materials, glass sand, stone and potassium-magnesium salt are most important industrially.
The resource base of barite ore in Sob-Palnik barite-bearing area is estimated at 80 - 100 mln tons. The largest and most explored deposit is Hoylin Barite Ore Field: the economic reserves are more than 2 mln tons and the probable reserves are more than 9 mln tons), that started to be developed in 1998.
The quartz resources in the Polar Urals occupy a leading position in the Russian reserve balances. In Komi 5 quartz fields are listed in the reserves inventory. The largest and only developed quartz field is Zhelannoye Field. Raw quartz extracted in this field is used in Russia in the production of special glass for electronics, optics, and synthesis of artificial crystals.
The Republic of Komi has significant reserves and resources of rock and potassium-magnesium salt. The national reserves inventory lists only the Seregovo deposit with the reserves of over 2.6 bln tons and the probable reserves of 5 bln tons.
In the south-east of the republic there is a major well-known saliferous basin with stone and potassium-magnesium salts. On its small portion (Upper Pechora Field) there have been estimated the salt reserves: sodium - over 13 bln tons, magnesium - over 165 mln tons, potassium - over 122 million tons.
The reserves and resources of glass sand have been found in the western parts of the Republic of Komi. The Chernokurka Field with the proven and estimated reserves of more than 14 mln tons. The estimated resources of glass sand around that field are about 50 mln tons. The total estimated resources of glass sand in Komi are more than 300 mln tons. The mineral resources of the construction industry include numerous deposits of raw carbonate, building and facing stone, silicate, glass sand, clay for bricks and expanded clay production, molds and mudstones for cement production, and gypsum.
The Komi territory has significant resources of fresh water, mineral and industrial groundwater. The operational resources of fresh groundwater suitable for domestic water supply exceed 62 million cu m / day. 104 fields (districts) of fresh ground water for public water supply have been listed in the reserves inventory. 69 fields (districts) are in operation.
The underground mineral water resources are great in number. The most common are light drinking, hydrogen sulfide, high bromine-content and ferrous mineral water. The reserve balances of mineral underground water with the total amount of 3,532 cu m / day have been registered for 9 fields (districts). Mineral water used for industrial bottling, as well as for spa purposes.
The Republic of Komi is a major raw material base of industrial water concentrated, chiefly, in the Timan-Pechora Oil and Gas Province. There have been found economic concentration of bromine, iodine, lithium, magnesium, strontium and other valuable components in the oil field reservoir waters.
The Republic of Komi is a zone of excessive moisture. A significant predominance of atmospheric precipitation over evaporation, the topography and geological structure determine a higher waterlogged and well-developed drainage network.
The hydrographic network of the Republic of Komi belongs to the basins of the following seas: the White Sea (river Vychegda, Luza, Mezen), Barents Sea (the Pechora River), Kara Sea (the Kara river) and the Caspian Sea (the Letka, Cobra, Berezovka rivers). The areas of these basins occupy respectively 35,2%; 62,9%; 0,7%; 1,2% of the republic.
The distribution of water resources for the municipalities is very uneven. Two major rivers Pechora and Vychegda originate and flow in the republic.
The length of the Pechora River in the Republic of Komi is 1,570 km. It originates in Troitsko-Pechorsk district and crosses 6 administrative districts.
The Vychegda River within the Republic of Komi with a length of 920 km crosses 4 districts.
In the republic lakes are underrepresented. The largest number of them is concentrated in Bolshezemelskaya tundra, river valleys and watersheds in the northern areas, in floodplains of major rivers. There are about 70 thousand lakes with total area of 4.3 thousand km2, representing 0.5% of the republic territory. Relatively large lakes are Yamozero (area 31.1 km2), Sindorskoe (28,5 km2), Kosminskoya (12,6 km2).
Marshes and wetlands are widely represented in the Republic of Komi. Average wetland is 9,6%. More than 60% is marsh upland. Among them there are the largest in Europe swamp Ocean (1790 km2) and Usinskoye (1570 km2).
The Republic of Komi is one of the leading forestry regions of Russia. Total forest area is 38.9 million hectares, 30 million hectares are covered by forests, or 3.5% of all Russian forests, and about 50% of forest area of the European North of Russia.
Forests and shrubs cover 78% of the territory of the republic. For forest exploitation more than three-quarters of the forests are allocated, reserves are 3 billion cubic m. The characteristic feature of forests is the high proportion of mature and over mature forests (72,3%).
The republic belongs to the forest areas of Russia whose structure is dominated by the most valuable dark coniferous spruce forests. Conifers stocks comprise 84% of all stocks of forest plantations. Softwood timber reserves amount to 15,9% of total stocks of forest plantations.
Fauna of the Republic of Komi has more than 4400 species. Of these, more than three thousand species of insects, 315 species of terrestrial vertebrates (5 species of amphibians, 247 species of birds and 58 species of mammals). Water bodies are inhabited by 47 species of fish.
The list of protected species included in the second edition of the Red Book of the Republic of Komi (2009) includes 33 species of birds, 15 mammal species and 6 species of fish. Of the birds in the region a stay of ospreys, peregrine falcon, golden eagle is observed. Water bodies are inhabited by rare species of fish: Siberian grayling, inconnu, trout, Siberian sturgeon.
37 species of birds can be hunted in Komi: grouse - 5, waterfowl - 21, sandpipers - 11. The leading role in professional and amateur hunting is taken by cocks (ptarmigan, grouse, capercaillie, black grouse) and waterfowl (bean goose, mallard, wigeon, pintail, teal and diving ducks).
Economically valuable animals are: elk, bear, beaver, otter, sable, squirrel, marten, fox, weasel, mink, lynx, wolverine, hare, muskrat.
Of the 47 species of fish in water bodies fishing masters 15-17 of the most important and widespread species. Of the valuable species of fish Pechora salmon, Siberian and European grayling, sturgeon, white salmon can be identified. Commercial fishing of valuable migratory species takes place: salmon, pyzhyan, whitefish.
For the Republic of Komi, as for most regions of the Russian Federation, the problems of air pollution, disposal and recycling of industrial and household waste, pollution of surface and groundwater, soil conservation and prevention of land pollution inhere.
The main sources of urban air pollution are: transport, thermal power plants, coal mining, oil and gas extraction, oil and gas processing plants, wood processing, construction.
The main contribution to the generation of wastes is made by enterprises for mineral extraction (almost 79%) and manufacturing (15%). Other kinds of economic activities give about 6% waste. Main industries that generate and accumulate wastes are coal mining and wood processing. In the Republic of Komi it is extremely necessary to develop the republican target program "Waste" or Concept of waste production and consumption in the Republic of Komi to coordinate efforts to deal with wastes, which should be based on the current situation in this area, emerging scheme of traffic streams of waste and its neighboring regions, layout and development of productive forces in the Republic of Komi till 2020. It should outline the main directions of state policy in the field of waste management.
Work in this direction will continue in 2010. As of January 1, 2010 in the republic there are 240 protected areas, including: 2 federal (Pechora-Ilych State Nature Biosphere Reserve, and National Park Yugyd Va) and 238 specially protected natural areas of regional significance (165 natural sanctuaries of different types and 73 monuments of nature). The total area of specially protected natural areas (federal and republican level) amounts to more than 6 million hectares or about 14,6% of the total area of the Republic of Komi. Since 1995 the National Park Yugyd Va along with adjusted in the South the Pechora-Ilych Nature Reserve and its buffer zone are included in the list of World Natural Heritage by UNESCO under the title "Virgin Komi Forests.