This Quaint Russian Town Is Home To The World's Largest Asbestos Mine


Photo: Bloomberg

Exposure to asbestos has been linked to mesothelioma, lung disorders, trouble breathing and several types of cancer. It is banned in the United States and in dozens of other countries around the world.But one town in Russia has based nearly its entire economy on the hazardous material. It’s called Asbest.

The town of about 75,000 is the epicentre of the world’s asbestos production. Despite killing an estimated 200,000 people worldwide, countries such as India, China, Vietnam and Russia still invest heavily in the deadly material.  

Bloomberg Television’s Ryan Chilcote takes us inside the town whose motto is “My Town, My Fate.” We’ve pulled out the highlights. 

Natives say asbestos gets a bad name because of western propoganda and misunderstanding, but it's the lifeblood of the town.

The pit in the main asbestos quarry in Asbest is roughly half the size of Manhattan. That's a whole lot of real estate.

As we get an overhead look of the quarry, let's point out that 5 billion tons of asbestos have been dug out over 120 years. Officials think they can dig for another 150 years.

As we take a look at the ground level, 5,000 trucks go in and out of the quarry each day. Each truck contains 130 tons of the rock.

Asbestos provides for 70% of the city's budget, but the Uralasbest company would not let a Bloomberg crew into the actual quarry even after a call from the city's mayor.

Chrysotile is the asbestos produced in this factory, seen below. That type of asbestos is banned in more than 60 countries.

Factory work continues in Asbest despite the EU and UN lobbying for a global ban of asbestos.

It's believed that 10,000 people die a year in Russia from asbestos. This man (on the left) lost his job at the factory after 20 years because he got sick from asbestos.

The Uralasbest factory tries to take safety precautions, but sickness still occurs. The company doctor estimated that just 10 people were sick at the time of the shoot.

The economy of the town would crumble if asbestos were banned. To hedge its bets, the city recently started making insulation without asbestos.

And now for something different out of Russia...

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.