Ukraine was the world's seventh-leading producer of iron ore, and continued to be a major world producer of coal, ferroalloys, ilmenite, steel, and manganese ore (with 75% of the former Soviet Union's reserves). The mining and metallurgical industry employed 500,000 persons; 270,000 worked in ironmaking, steelmaking, and ferroalloys enterprises. In 2000, metal products accounted for $6 billion worth of exports, 63% of the country's total exports; ferrous metals, whose production increased by 17% in 2000, accounted for $4.7 billion in exports. Ferrous and nonferrous metals were Ukraine's top export commodity in 2002, and their production ranked third among the country's industries; coal production ranked first, and chemicals manufacturing ranked fifth. Fuel and petroleum products were the country's second-leading export commodity.
Production outputs for 2000 included: marketable iron ore, 55.88 million tons (47.6 million tons in 1996); manganese, mined in the Nikopol' and Bol'shoy Tokmak basins (metal content), 930,000 tons (675,000 in 1999, 1.03 million tons in 1997); rock salt, 2.29 million tons (2.8 million tons in 1996); and potash (at the Stebnik and Kalush mines), 30,000 tons (76,000 in 1996). In addition, Ukraine produced alumina, mercury, titanium (ilmenite and rutile concentrates), zirconium (the FSU's only ore producer), cement, clays (bentonite and kaolin), graphite, nitrogen, and sulfur (from the Rozdol and Yavoriv deposits). Iron ore production—concentrated at seven mining and beneficiation complexes in the Krivyy Rih (Krivoy Rog) Basin, and at the Poltavskiy complex—fell by 50% in 1990–95. Explored iron ore reserves totaled 33 billion tons, including 28 billion tons of industrial reserves; total capacity was 108.5 million tons per year. Manganese reserves totaled 2.2 billion tons, and annual capacity was 6 million tons. No antimony, cadmium, lead, nickel, tin, zinc, zircon, dolomite, limestone fluxes, quartz, soda ash, talc, or uranium was mined in the past several years, the Ukraine having sharply reduced or ceased producing a number of these commodities as a result of the large reduction in demand following the breakup of the Soviet Union.
At the end of the 1980s, Ukraine mined 5% of the world's output of mineral products. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, production fell precipitously, and recovery of the mining sector was considered critical for the country's economic recovery. A 1999 law provided tax benefits for mining and metal industry firms for two and a half years. By 2000, the privatization of small-scale enterprises was virtually completed. The mining industry was a major source of waste, having accumulated 30 billion tons of mineral wastes.