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Central Siberia: a new primary industrial region? Barr, Brenton Marshall

Abstract

This thesis seeks to assess, for the new Soviet industrial area of Central Siberia, the nature and extent of its natural resources, the magnitude and structure of industrial development and the contribution of the area to the Soviet economy. Central Siberia is defined as that area which is located between Lake Baykal and the Kuzbass and which extends northward to the right bank of the Angara river and southward to the Tuva ASSR. Industrial activity is focused on the Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Bratsk nodes. This study shows that, until 1956-1958, Central Siberian industrial raw materials, except wood, were little known and hardly utilized. Development of hydro electric potential was minor. Service and administrative functions, and mining of rare metals, formed the basis of the economy. The Irkutsk planning conference, held in 1958, is discussed in order to show the changing concepts of Soviet authorities in relation to eastern development. The major raw materials and energy sources are examined to show their absolute size, relative role in the total resource base of the USSR and suitability for large-scale development. The growth of hydro and thermal electric stations, and the Siberian Electric Power System, is examined to show the relative role of hydro and thermal power, the changing nature of the spatial organization of electric energy production, and the areal relationship between centres of energy generation and those of new industrial development. The generation of electric energy within the Siberian Electric Power System and the consumption of this energy by sector of the economy has been calculated for 1964 and estimated for 1970. Functional industrial relationships and the nature of industrial development are examined to show the growth of new industries and changing patterns of spatial organization of production. Using production figures, the relative significance of each major industry in Central Siberia to the Soviet economy is assessed. Nodes, and hierarchies of centres, within Central Siberia are examined on the basis of their spatial location, not in relationship to administrative subregions. This study finds that reserves of such raw materials as wood, nephelite, iron ore and salt are sufficiently large and accessible to permit major industrial growth in Central Siberia. Hydro power potential and brown coal reserves will permit large-scale installation of generating equipment. The region is, however, still dependent on imported oil. It was also observed that the number of new industries being developed in each centre follows an ordered (Hierarchical) distribution of productive forces, commencing with main centres and finishing with small towns. It was found that Central Siberia's contribution to the Soviet economy now reaches, or soon will reach, large national proportions only in the production of wood, ethyl alcohol, aluminum and electric energy. Output of other products is only a small proportion of total national production. The development of Central Siberia appears to face two major problems. The first concerns labour. Attracting a trained labour force and maintaining high levels of labour productivity in face of great shortages of material amenities, poses a serious problem to those Soviet planners who are guiding the centrally planned economic development of this marginal area. Another problem involves capital return. It was found that a much lower rate of capital return exists in the east than in the west. Soviet authorities, nevertheless, are investing large sums of money into eastern industries because of Soviet need for raw materials, industrial products and the desire to provide effective occupation of strategic eastern areas.

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