Digging deep and flying high – Russia’s Perm Region
From ballet to rocket engines, the city of Perm is known to be a jack-of-all-trades – and a master of many.
The easternmost city of Europe, Perm is one of Russia's strongest industrial economies – operating in the air, on the land and deep underground.
A mine in the town of Solikamsk, in the North of the Perm region, specializes in removing Magnesium and Potassium salts, which are turned into potash fertilizer that is used in farming around the world.
The workers doing the extracting feel at home in the bowels of the earth.
“I don’t know how a miner’s work differs from other professions. I spend all my life here in the mine. It’s the only thing I know. I am used to it,” says one of the miners.
Over 300 meters below the surface of the Earth, one can see the different layers that build up the big rock inside the mine. They are all different colors, as they were formed over the last 250 million years, and back then the area was part of a huge prehistoric ocean. When it dried up, the minerals in the water were deposited in layers, with the heaviest sinking to the bottom, creating beautiful patterns.
Once the ore is taken out of the rock it has to be brought up to the surface.
When a truck dumps its load, a conveyor belt transports it to the top. Thus the mine ships thousands of tonnes a day.
Once above ground, the ore is sent to an onsite factory where, after a complex process of filtration and refinement, the finished product is shipped globally.
When it comes to flying high, it is in aircraft engine production that Perm excels. It was not always that way, though. In the ’90s the Perm Engine Company suffered financial problems and changed owners several times. Now the engines made here are used by airlines around the world – and also in Dmitry Medvedev's official plane.
“It's a factor of how much trust and respect there is for our plant’s production that the President chooses us,” says representative of the company.
Perm has not only reached success in the skies, but also beyond the stratosphere.
The Proton-M factory in the Perm city center has been the driving force that has blasted over 320 rockets into outer space. It has been building rocket engines since the late 1950s.
The research done there into liquid propellant has led to the company becoming a market leader.
Its employees are confident that the work they are doing now will one day result in manned missions to other planets.
“The ‘Angara’ rocket will be used to colonize planets in the solar system and the moon,” said Valentin Piliguz, Deputy General Director of HR at Proton-PM.
“We will build settlements on other planets like our science fiction writers envisioned and our Angara rockets will help make it all a reality.”
So whether it is under the ground or reaching for the stars, when it comes to industry in Perm, it is out of this world.