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DOBROPILLIA: WHAT FUTURE? MINING CITY. 2.0 25th of february - 1st of march 2017 city exploration

Dobropillia’s indentity is closely connected with its geology, its coal deposits in particular. The production at the territory of modern city has started in 1910 when Belgian and Russian industrialists founded the first ‘Erastivske’ field (1). Approximately seven years later, everything was nationalized. Later the biggest ‘Dobropilska’ mine (former ‘Gigant’ mine) opened and the settlement turned into the city (in 1953). Starting from approximately 2000 up to this day all mines and two enrichment factories are in the property of DTEK LLC, founded by ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov (2). Amid sharp reduction in coal mining industry in the country, the decline of state-owned mines (only in 2011-2015 the coal mining fell by 82%) and the systemic crisis of the industry that has started in 1980 (2), at first glance it might seem that it’s not so

bad in Dobropillia after all. As they1 emphasize, all mines are working and privatized. For many of Dobropilchans, unfortunately, mines are the only possible place of employment.

Thinking about the future of the city, it is impossible to ignore the state of the coal industry in the country and in the world. The study of the Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives at Donbas with other partners2 emphasizes the unjustified waste of resources – both human and natural – and the various consequences of coal mining in Ukraine. Among the implications are environmental, political and economic. Nowadays the restructuring of the coal industry is happening all over the world. In Great Britain the

last mine has already been closed, and by 2018 the last mine in Germany will be closed as well. Australia, which has tremendous deposits, has started talking about abandoning coal mining, too. In order to find out how people see their city, its future and its potential, the «Urban Curators» NGO of the METAMSTO: SHID team arrived in Dobropillia at the end of winter 2017. We can already share the results of this study, which was conducted by a team of 6 people in 4 days. The conclusions were formed according to the 4 groups of key players:

1) citizens

Those locals that we talked to connect the future of their city with those positive activities and events that happen there: volunteer movement, small business, climbing wall, house of culture, debate club and so on. They don’t connect their future with the coal industry, they only mention it when they are talking about the present. For instance, they mention the image of the miner as something closer to the image of the presentday city and treat the hard work with tremendous respect.

Here is the one of the question we asked citizens: If pretend that the city is a human, how you would describe it? its «occupation», «traits of character» ...

Some of the answers are below:

... a man, dirty, unwashed Miner. He has a dog. .. is engaged in sports. Builds sports playgrounds. ... a miner - a man, a laborer, without higher education and no fontazii. Age is similar to the age of the city. ... a miner, successful in the past, disappointing. ... mines absorb energy. stayat-home. ...30-40 years old. Dressed in sports pants, does not care about his appearance. Drinks, have bad habits. ... a woman, 40 years old. It is rapidly changing, wearing jewelry. Begin to take care of yourself. she has an average income.

2) business

According to official reports, DTEK sees the prospects of continuing the coal production and investments in the industry rather than restructuring it (3). In the matters of city’s future the participation of the sole proprietor of the leading industry enterprises in the city is limited to the support of city improvement projects in

the form of small grants for local initiatives called ‘Community with your own hands’ and holding of various festivals. While small businesses, for example, a ‘Zaboynyy kofe’ (‘Banging coffee’) cafe forms its brand based on a miner’s image, interpreting it in a modern way.

3) city administration and regional administration We did not get acquainted with the materials that declare the development of the city. According to the official opinion, the masterplan of the city for some reason (!) is classified as a hidden information. In personal communication, the representatives of the administration facilitated us in our research. In particular, they showed us the premises that could potentially be suitable for the project. In conversations with us they shared that they don’t have enough time for strategic plans, as they have to solve urgent tasks such as repairing schools, kindergartens, dormitories, roads.

4) expert opinion A local researcher Volodymyr Podolyan in his book ‘The Word about Dobropillia’ noted that the future of the city is the ‘gold’ of the Good field

(‘Dobropillia’ translates as ‘the good field’) and the ‘black’ gold of the underground subsoil. The book is quite new and published in 2009.

There is a total ignoring of the issue of a future monocity, where 92% of the economy (data taken from the site of the city council) is held by the coal industry. At this stage, without the support of the private sector, and in the absence of state and municipal programs for the restructuring of the coal industry, we are convinced that it is necessary to initiate temporary or small projects that will become catalysts for future changes in the city. The main principles for these projects should be rethinking of the past of the city, in particular the coal industry and the participation of residents in city development projects. In addition to identifying different views on the future of the city, during our winter research we set ourselves the task of finding, together with the locals, the potential locations and specific ideas for a catalyst project, which would lay the foundation for the transition from coal mining to something else that meets the requirements of the present.

THERE IS A HUGE NEED TO ‘RELIVE’ THE PAST OF THE CITY ANEW, FOR THE SAKE OF ITS FUTURE. An inspiring meeting with the teachers of the ‘Dobropilvugillya’ educational combine Volodymyr Ivanovych and Anatoliy Stepanovych helped us imagine the future of the Dobropillia as a city of the industrial tourism. One of the bright moments of our communication was an informal excursion to the training ground. The whole team listened to the stories of the guide with great interest. Mr. Volodymyr spoke about the principles of the work of drift development, safety equipment of miners and recalled his own stories, since he himself once worked in a mine. Since this center is closed for visitors, it’s still impossible to embody the idea of tourist ​​ excursions. But we are sure that this ground, which, by the way, is located in the park near the house of culture, has great potential to become a favorite place primarily for pupils and students from Dobropillia and nearby cities, and eventually become a catalyst for industrial and active tourism in Dobropillia. After closing down, some mines in the world become part of cultural heritage. There is even a database of the objects of industrial heritage, that are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage

non-official excursion to ‘Dobropilvugillya’ educational combine photo by Svitlana Kolodiy

List. There are also a lot of post-industrial tourist routes around the whole Europe, for example, the European Route of Industrial Heritage (erih. net). Among the Ukrainian industrial objects that are recommended for a visit to the tourists of the whole world there’s onІy a salt mine in Soledar of the Donetsk region. There are more than 10 museums based on former mines in Great Britain, more than 10 in Germany, almost 10 in France, several in Spain, Czech Republic and Poland (4). At the former coal mine in Valkenburg, a small town in the Netherlands, former miners tell their own stories of working experience in the mines during tourist excursions. In the Dutch mines museum (Het Nederlands Mijnmuseum), which is situated at the place of the former Oranje Nassau mine in Heerlen, a lot of the original elements of the mine are on display. For example, a constantly rotating crankshaft is a reminder of the past. In Katowice, once the largest industrial agglomeration in Europe, the transformations began in 2000. Nowadays some cities, for example, Zabrze from this agglomeration, are renowned successful cities with outsourcing companies. Mines are converted into museums, places for recreation with hotels and restaurants, places of post-industrial tourism, business tourism and active tourism (for example, geotourism). Among main challenges of restructuring the industry is the attitude of the locals to the industrial heritage (mainly that they do not consider it valuable),

large scale of mines and soil contamination. Marta ะกhmielewska of the Department of Economic Geography at Silesia University in Poland believes that the attitude of the locals to the industrial heritage is decisive (4). At the next stage of the project, the METAMISTO: SHID team plans to look at the history of the region and the mines in a new way, as something valuable not only in terms of coal mining. Oleksandr Petrenko, a local ethnographer and history teacher, has a lot to do with a more specific idea that we came up with for Dobropillia. Seeing his local history museum which is now at the school #7, and joining his informal paleobotanic expedition to the heaps of the Dobropilska mine, we realized that this museum and exploratory expeditions could be the first step in rethinking the geological features of the city, and hence the coal industry.

visitng a local history museum which is now at the school #7 photo by Svitlana Kolodiy

With the thought of the future of the city and the resources available today, we see the participating and scientific MUSEUM as the first catalyst function for the changes in the city. The site for exploring and studying the city and the dialogue about its future based on this MUSEUM may have an important interactive function.

waste heap ‘Dobropilvugillya’

A. the city house of culture C. mining educational combine B. ‘Dobropilvugillya’ administrative building

potential first catalyst projects 1. phase

A. the city house

to establish an open interectvive MUSEUM about city history and culture

of culture

2. phase


to agree with DTEK to take an excursions

‘Dobropilvugillya’ administrative building

3. phase

C. mining educational

to conduct excursions


4. phase

D. waste heap

to conduct excursions and research expiditions


Based on the results of the interview, SWOT analysis of potential sites, city walks, meetings with representatives of the administration and NGOs, we have focused on the following potential locations where local people see the potential for realization of the project objectives: 1. abandoned water tower 2. summer cinema in the City park 3. abandoned dance floor in the City Park 4. former Boiler room ‘#2’ 5. city house of culture 6. ruins of the pipe plant

summer cinema in the City park (photo by A.Ponomaryova)

city house of culture (photo by Svitlana Kolodiy)

abandoned water tower (photo by Svitlana Kolodiy)

The ‘weather map, which we made based on the open data, demonstrates the areas in the city that amplify or complicate temporary small projects.

Weather map” is a map that shows what amplifies (A) and what complicates (C) the potential transformations in the given moment. A (amplifiers): the presence of abandoned areas, good transportation (mainly public transport), high density of young people (educational institutions, places of gatherings of young people), favorite places of the locals. C (complicators): private sector, planned areas. 1. abandoned water tower 2. summer cinema in the City park 3. abandoned dance floor in the City Park 4. former Boiler room ‘#2’ 5. city house of culture 6. ruins of the pipe plant














The issue of the future of the city of Dobropillia should be determined not only by the administration and DTEK’s management, but also by people who live in the city. In addition to the abovementioned urban goals, the METACITY_East project also aims at making the voices of the ordinary city dwellers be heard. The team faces a very difficult task of making an important step for the city through a small project again. In this case, we can say that Less is the Future! Anastasiya Ponomaryova, urban curators

Reference: 1. Подолян, В. (2009). Слово про Добропілля: роки, події, люди. Донецьк: Престиж-party 2. Казанський, Д., Некрасова, А., Савицький, О., Павлов, Ю., Смірнов, П., Тарабанова, С., Янова, Г. (2017). Справжня ціна вугілля в умовах війни на Донбасі: погляд крізь призму прав людини. Київ: видавництво ТОВ “арт книга” 3. DTEK. (2015). Интегрированный отчет 2015. Финансовые и нефинансовые результаты 4. Chmielewska, M. (2015). Сonservation of postindustrial cultural heritage in Europe in coal and global context. Notes: 1. Information from the site of the city administration ‘...Today, Dobropillya is a modern, developed mining town with a population of 62.7 thousand people (the author’s note: the population refers to the population together with the subordinate cities of Bilytske, Bilozirske, Novodonetske township, Vodyanske township and Bokove village). The socioeconomic situation in the city continues to be stable. The city’s industry is represented by six mines and two enrichment factories that

are part of the DTEK company, as well as the enterprises of the service infrastructure. The leading place in the industrial sector is coal industry, which makes up 99.2% of the total production in the city (radadobropillya). 2. The publication is the result of a study conducted by the Eastern-Ukrainian Center for Civic Initiatives in cooperation with partner organizations – members of the Coalition of NGOs and initiatives ‘Justice for Peace in Donbas’ with the support of the Representative Office of the Heinrich Böll Fund in Ukraine with the aim to create conditions for the broad public discussion on the real economic, environmental and social consequences of coal mining in Donbas in the conditions of war.

Title collage: Anastasiya Ponomaryova Photo: Svitlana Kolodiy, Anastasiya Ponomaryova digital version is available on a web-site:








Donetsk 37º0'0''E






kilometres 40


38º0'0''E Northern Donetsk region Dobropillya location Donetsk is now located on non-controlled area Kramatorsk is newerly center of the region

Donetsk is now located on non-controlled area Kramatorsk in newerly center of the region


METACITY: EAST (METAMISTO: SHID) invited Urban Curators agency team to research six cities from Ukrainian Donbas. Due to the limit of time (...


METACITY: EAST (METAMISTO: SHID) invited Urban Curators agency team to research six cities from Ukrainian Donbas. Due to the limit of time (...