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Russia's Uralkali Potash Mine

The recent arrest in Belarus of Vladislav Baumgertner, the general director of Russia's Uralkali potash-producing giant, not only raised tensions between Minsk and Moscow. It also focused attention on the important commodity, a potassium-based salt which is used mostly to make fertilizer. Uralkali is the world's largest potash-producing company, ahead of Canadian and U.S. competitors. Baumgertner's announcement in July that Uralkali was leaving a joint venture with the Belarusian firm Belaruskali led to a steep drop in the commodity's price and hurt the Belarusian economy. RFE/RL gathered photos of Uralkali's mining efforts in Russia's Perm region to illustrate the massive scale of the work involved in potash production.

Employees work inside a Uralkali potash mine near the city of Berezniki in the Perm region, close to the Ural Mountains.
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Employees work inside a Uralkali potash mine near the city of Berezniki in the Perm region, close to the Ural Mountains.

An aerial view of a Uralkali potash mine near Berezniki. The Uralkali company has a market value of some $14 billion.
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An aerial view of a Uralkali potash mine near Berezniki. The Uralkali company has a market value of some $14 billion.

Employees at work in a Uralkali potash mine. The mineral is used mainly in fertilizer production, and is one of the three most widely-used fertilizers worldwide.
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Employees at work in a Uralkali potash mine. The mineral is used mainly in fertilizer production, and is one of the three most widely-used fertilizers worldwide.

An employee checks an underground store of potassium salts at a Uralkali potash mine. The company's mines draw on the Verkhnakamskoe deposit in the Ural Mountains, one of the largest deposits in the world.
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An employee checks an underground store of potassium salts at a Uralkali potash mine. The company's mines draw on the Verkhnakamskoe deposit in the Ural Mountains, one of the largest deposits in the world.

A miner operates machinery in a potassium mine.
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A miner operates machinery in a potassium mine.

Unprocessed potassium salts in a Uralkali potash mine
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Unprocessed potassium salts in a Uralkali potash mine

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An employee holds processed potassium salts at a Uralkali potash mine.
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An employee holds processed potassium salts at a Uralkali potash mine.

An employee at an above ground pile of processed potassium salts at a Uralkali potash mine.
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An employee at an above ground pile of processed potassium salts at a Uralkali potash mine.

Processed potassium salts from a Uralkali potash mine are loaded at a port in the town of Solikamsk near the Ural Mountains.
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Processed potassium salts from a Uralkali potash mine are loaded at a port in the town of Solikamsk near the Ural Mountains.

Waste from a potash mine is loaded at a port in Solikamsk in Russia's Perm region.
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Waste from a potash mine is loaded at a port in Solikamsk in Russia's Perm region.

Waste from a potash mine creates a mini mountain near the Russian town of Solikamsk.
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Waste from a potash mine creates a mini mountain near the Russian town of Solikamsk.

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