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USGS Open File Report 97-137A (English)


Kashirin, F. T., 1988, Ugol'naya geologiya v Kirgizii za 70 let Sovetskoy vlasti. <Coal geology in 'Kirghizia in the 70 years of Soviet power> Izvestiya Akademii nauk Kirgizskoy SSR <Kabarlary Kyrgyz SSR Ilimader Akademiyasynyn. No. 1, p.72-79.

Coal geology in Kyrgyzstan during 70 years of Soviet power
by F. T. Kashirin

{Translated by Neely Bostick, U.S. Geological Survey}

1 The coal industry is one of the oldest branches of the industrial economy in Kyrgyzstan. It originated in the south of Kyrgyzstan (in the present Osh oblast') more than 100 years ago. Coal production began in 1866 in Sulyukta, in 1898 in Kyzyl-Kiya, in 1916 in Tash-Kumyr and Kok-Yangak. Mining was conducted by private enterprises using semi-primitive pits on a very small scale. The geologic basis for developing a coal industry was weak. Coal geologic studies were of a reconnaissance nature, and prospecting-exploration work was absent.

2 The publications on coal geology in the territory of Kyrgyzstan were by the well-known Russian geologist I. V. Mushketov. It was he who first described exposures of coal seams in the Kyrgyzstan part of the hills surrounding the Fergana Valley: Sary-Biya (Mayl-Say) -- northern Fergana); Sulyukta, Kyzyl-Kiya (southern Fergana); Kumbel', Taldy-Su, Aldyyar (eastern Fergana) [1]. At the same time the geologist G. D. Romanovskiy studied exposures of coal beds in the Kokkinesay area in Sulyukta [2]. Later, more detailed studies of the coal geology of Southern Kyrgyzstan were carried out by M. M. Bronnikov and A. P. Mikhailov in 1889-1913 under the auspices of the Geologic Committee. The famous geologist V. N. Veber also devoted some attention to coal geology during his survey on a ten-verst scale [4]. M. M. Bronnikov and V. N. Veber determined the reserves of several South-Fergana deposits to total 157 million tonnes, including 19.5 m.t. in Kyzyl-Kiya, 19.0 m.t. in Shurab and 52.0 m.t. in Sulyukta.

3 The first information about the presence of coal strata in Northern Kyrgyzstan (within the geographical boundaries of Soguty, Ak-Say, Dzhaman-Davan, Turugart, Kok-Maynak) was published by K. I. Argentov in 1911 [5] and V. N. Ryabinin in 1915 [6]. The most complete general work which summarized the results of pre-revolutionary studies on coal geology in Central Asia was by D. A. Nalivkin [7]. Already at that time it had been established that all the coal deposits discovered in Central Asia originated during the Jurassic time of coal accumulation. D. A. Nalivkin wrote that they are: "deposits of broad plains and wide valleys surrounded and cut off by strongly dissected mountain ranges. Numerous moderate-sized rivers flowing into the plain eroded huge masses of coarse clastic material, which was eroded and swept away for large distances during tumultuous floods. On these coarse sediments formed freshwater basins, only to vanish again under a cover of sands. Most often they had the appearance of extensive swamps which were surrounded and overgrown by a rich, luxurious growth of plants. In lakes and swamps the beds of coal were formed and also lived freshwater fish, pelecypods and insects."

4 Within the first few five-year plans the Kyrgyz Republic was considered to be the "stoke-box" of Central Asia. The development of a coal industry made necessary the creation of a reliable mineral resource base, for which, in turn, was needed expanded studies of coal geology. Several periods in the development of coal mining and coal geology in Kyrgyzstan during the Soviet era can be recognized, somewhat arbitrarily.

5 1918-1940 During 1918-1927, after nationalization of the coal mines began their reestablishment. By 1928 the coal production had reached a pre-war level (103 thousand tonnes). From this time began preparation of a geologic basis for expanding production of the reestablished operations and for construction of new mines. Large scale geologic mapping encompassed almost all of the main coal-bearing regions in the hills surrounding the Fergana Valley. Prospecting and exploration work included separate parts of the Sulyukta, Kyzyl-Kiya, Naryn (Tash-Kumyr), Kok-Yangak and Shurab coal deposits. This work was done by a large collective of coal geologists, mainly from Leningrad and Tashkent. N. V. Shabarov provided the scientific leadership. The concept of formation of coal strata and coal seams in Central Asia which he proposed was as follows: The Jurassic coal-bearing deposits formed in lagunal-continental conditions. The main coal seams are concentrated in the lower parts of the coal-bearing sequence. Their separation into disconnected coal-bearing areas and their interruption by Cretaceous deposits lying directly on the Paleozoic was caused by the pulse of Alpine mountain building and consequent erosion. On the basis of this concept, N. V. Shabarov postulated the possible discovery of coal-bearing deposits at greater depths under the cover of Cretaceous and younger deposits [8]. This conclusion was an important prospecting idea for discovery of new, concealed, areas of Jurassic deposits bearing industrially valuable coals.

6 As a result of the studies mentioned, very significant results were obtained in coal geology. The main one was the creation of a reliable geological basis for development of coal-producing operations on the established deposits Sulyukta, Kyzyl-Kiya, Kok-Yangak, Tash-Kumyr and the discovery by N. V. Shabarov of the Uzgen (East Fergana) coal basin with workable seams having the whole range of bituminous coals from long-flame to anthracite [9].

7 1941-1945. Before the beginning of World War II the mining industry of Kyrgyzstan consisted of four relatively small coal producing operations which exploited the bituminous coal deposits Tash-Kumyr and Kok-Yangak and the lignite deposits Sulyukta and Kyzyl-Kiya. Production of other mineral resources, including petroleum and ores for non-ferrous metallurgy, were in a rudimentary condition. However, by that time Kyrgyzstan was completely covered by a mid-scale geological survey, which served as the scientific basis for planning and conducting exploration for mineral resources, including coal. In order to study coal deposits in Central Asia, Minugleprom-SSSR {USSR Central Ministry of Coal Industry} organized a special establishment, the Sredazuglerazvedka {Central Asia Coal Exploration} Trust in Tashkent. In Kyrgyzstan, since 1938 worked the Republic Bureau of Geology of Mingeo-SSSR{USSR Ministry of Geology}.

8 From the beginning of WW II all efforts of geologists were turned mainly to prospecting and exploration for strategic mineral resources, which included coal. Detailed exploration of new mine fields and coal-bearing sectors was carried out at the working deposits of Kok-Yangak (sectors Kok-Yangak, Sary-Bulak, Tyulek, Markay), Kyzyl-Kiya (field of Mine 6). The main volume of geologic work in coal geology during the war was concentrated in prospecting and exploration for deposits of technological coals (coking coals) in the area of the Uzgen (East-Fergana) Basin. Here the Kyrgyzstan Bureau of Geology explored the Besh-Terek, Zindan and Kara-Tyube + Baybiche deposits and the Sredazuglegeoliya trust explored the Tuyuk and Kargasha deposits. The high pace of development of the coal industry during the war years and the heroic efforts of miners and geologists led to production of 4.0 million tonnes in the first post-war years. Of the large number of distinguished geologists working in the war years, professor N. V. Shabarov, discoverer of the Uzgen coal basin, can be listed first. In these years he studied the basin and consulted for the extensive prospecting and exploration by geologists of the Kyrgyzstan Geology Bureau (L. G. Bel'govskiy, Ye. I. Zubtsov, I. K. Yakovlev, F. T. Kashirin, Z. Ye. Kashirina, I. D. Rogozin, K. D. Musatov, B. I. Rybakov, A. I. Ivanova) and also geologists of the Sredazuglegeologiya trust (Ye. A. Kochnev, Yu. P. Barinkov, A. Gil'metdinova, R. S. Gaft, and others).

9 Subsequently, N. V. Shabarov became one of the leading coal geologists of the country, and he worked many years as leader of the coal geology group in VSEGEI (Leningrad). For his discovery of the Uzgen (East Fergana) coal basin he was awarded the title of laureate of the USSR State Prize and Distinguished Scientist of the Kirgiz Republic.

10 A large contribution in study of the geology of the Uzgen Basin was made by the Leningrad regional mapping geologist V. N. Ognev. Under his leadership and active work was completed the large scale geologic survey of the most favorable areas of the basin. Together with the famous paleobotanist M. I. Brik he worked out the stratigraphy of the coal-bearing strata of the basin determined the basic features of the paleogeography, which retains its significance to the present day [10].

11 1946 to present. After the end of WW-II prospecting and exploration for coal was carried out at practically all deposits being mined. However, the main effort was concentrated in the Uzgen coal basin since full industrialization of the basin was included in the fourth five-year economic plan (1946-1959) of the country. Accordingly, a plan of geologic exploration was laid out which included detailed exploration of 12 sectors in the deposits of coking coal Tuyuk and Kargasha for construction of shaft mines with production of 3 million tonnes as well as exploring a route for construction of a rail line to these deposits. The plan for a rail route extending from the Khanabad (Tashkent RR) station to the Sazy region (western part of the Kargasha deposit) was established in 1950. Unfortunately, exploration of the Tuyuk and Kargasha deposits went slowly, mainly because of complications in carrying out core drilling. In 1954 the assignment for detailed exploration of the Uzgen basin was decreased to six underground sectors with an output of 1.8 million tonnes, and the completion date was extended to 1953 {This and the previous date conflict; correct dates are unknown -- Translator} At the same time a new comprehensive project to develop the basin was set, including construction of a rail line to the basin. However, detailed exploration was not completed within schedule, and the final figure for reserves in the Tuyuk and Kargasha deposits was not approved by VKZ {Union Committee on Reserves} until the end of 1955. The development program for the basin was not carried out. In 1956 the institute Sredazgiproshakht {Central Asia Shaft-Mine Design} worked out the basic provisions for development of the Tuyuk and Kargasha deposits. Approximately since this time exploration at these and other Uzgen Basin deposits has ceased and the question of development of the deposits and continuation of the exploration efforts in the remaining deposits of the Uzgen basin remains for all intents and purposes open.

12 The most substantial achievement of coal geology during this period was the opening of the Kavak brown coal basin in north Kyrgyzstan. Interestingly, this was done in conjunction with prospecting and exploration for ores of rare metals in the coal-bearing Jurassic strata of the Kavak mountains. The discovery was reported for the first time at the Second Coal Geology Congress in March, 1955, in Leningrad, by F. T. Kashirin, one of the discoverers of the basin [11].

13 In subsequent years, from 1953 to 1980 (with interruptions) detailed exploration was conducted at the more favorable deposits of the basin. Up to the present, two coal sectors (Kara-Keche and Agulak + Turakavak) have been prepared, with explored reserves adequate to supply twoopencast mines, with 4-5 million tonnes combined capacity. Construction of an opencast mine has begun at the Kara-Keche deposit, which has now been reached by an electrical transmission line and a gravel road connecting with the Kochkorka to Chayek auto road. In the development plan for coal industry in Kyrgyzstan for 1986-1990 is projected expansion of the output of the Agulak + Turakavak opencast mine to 1 million tonnes.

14 At the deposits opened in this period prospecting, exploration, and thematic studies have been carried out. In the 50's and early 60's at the Sulyukta deposit were conducted detailed exploration of the northern sectors (geologist B. Ye. Dimitruk), parcel No.8 (geologists V. A. Kramer and N. V. Il'chenko), No.12 (geologists V. A. Kramer and P. P. Konovalov), the field of mine No.l6 (geologists Yu. S. Ler-Khodkevich and V. I. Utkin), parcel No.5 (M. I. Yaskovich and R. S. Mangel'din). This work provided reserves equal to the output of the active underground mines No.6/18 at Sulyukta (Kyzyl-Bulak) and created a number of reserve parcels (field 11 and others).

15 At the Kyzyl-Kiya deposit during these years practically the entire territory was explorated for coal sectors and parcels. This effort provided reserves to allow construction of the Dzhindzhigan underground mines and the open pit mines Abshir and Almalyk, and allowed evaluation of the reserve Eastern Sector. This exploration was carried out by many geologists based in Frunze and Tashkent (A.A. Gavrilin, Sh. Tekenof, I. M. Mel'kovitskiy and others).

16 Within the actual Tash-Kumyr deposit the inadequate reserves in one sector (Kara-Su open pit; Severnaya underground mine) and drastic worsening of mine/geological conditions in others (Kapital'naya mine) led to basic prospecting and exploration to prepare for exploitation of the coal-bearing sectors and areas beyond Tash-Kumyr. With this aim the Tegenek deposit, 45 km north of Tash-Kumyr, was explored in detail. The proved reserves of this deposit provide initially for construction of an open pit, and after surface reserves are worked out -- shaft mines.

17 At the Kok-Yangak deposit, in post-war years production has been mainly from drift horizons. At the present time at these horizons and in part lower (the region of shaft No.40) the reserves are worked out at coal sectors Kurgan-Tash, Kok-Yangak, and Sary-Bulak; the main front for exploitation work has shifted in a southern direction, encompassing the areas Tyulek and Markay (Southern Kok-Yangak). Preliminary exploration of these areas was carried out in 1941-1943, and detailed exploration of Southern Kok-Yangak in 1955. Calculation of reserves of the entire deposit (The Northern Area, shaft No. 40, Kapital'naya stsol'nya, shaft No.45, Kok-Yangak-Glubokiy and Sary-Bulak) was carried out by the Kyrgyzstan Geological Bureau in 1963.

18 At deposits of the South Issyk-Kul' coal region in the region of Dzhergalan and Soguty, small-scale exploration has been carried out from time to time to provide reserves for the two active shaft mines here. Their total yearly production does not exceed 200 thousand tonnes. Because of their reserves and size of output, the named deposits and mines have only local significance.

19 In this short paper only certain aspects of development of coal geology in Kyrgyzstan during the Soviet era have been presented. I would say that the most striking is the creation of a large (for Central Asia) geologic base for the further development of the coal industry in Kyrgyzstan. While before the revolution (1913) the predicted coal reserves were reckoned at 157 million tonnes, at the present they amount to 33,000 million tonnes. That is, they have grown more than 200 times, including a reserve balance of 2,200 million tonnes.

20 In past years at many deposits worked for a long time (Tash-Kumyr, Kok-Yangak, Kyzyl-Kiya) the reserves in certain sectors are worked out, whereas in others the mining/geological conditions have greatly worsened. However, as a whole, the coal industry of Kyrgyzstan has favorable perspectives not only for continued existence but for further large-scale development. The perspectives include the still untouched Uzgen and Kavak basins. The Kavak basin deserves special attention because of its uniquely thick coal seams, which with justice may be called the "cream" of solid fossil fuel. In the Kavak basin even today is possible surface mining of coals on a large scale.

21 In case of need, the Uzgen Basin may become the basic provider of high quality bituminous coals for the entire Central Asian region and the base for technological coals -- the raw material for a coke-chemical industry.

22 The results of prospecting and exploration for coal, the mining geology, and the scientific studies in coal geology which were carried out over many years by a large number of coal geologists have been published in monographs and numerous articles, but their greatest fruit is found in the book Coal Basins and Deposits of Central Asia [12]. This volume contains quite complete accounts of geology (stratigraphy, tectonics, depositional conditions), coal occurrence and perspectives for industrial development of nearly all coal basins and deposits of Central Asia, including those in Kyrgyzstan. It contains also description of petrography, chemistry and technological properties of the coals; special attention is devoted to evaluation of raw resources for coal-based industry.

23 In a short article it is impossible to list all coal geologists of the old and young generations who have invested their work in creation of a raw material base of a coal industry of Kyrgyzstan and who continue their valued work toward further expansion of our knowledge of the coal riches of Kyrgyzstan.


  1. Mushketov, I. V. Turkestan. Geologic and geographic description according to information gathered during travels from 1871 to 1900. St Petersburg, 1915, Part 1, Vol. 2.
  2. Romanovskiy, G. D. Materials on geology of the Turkestan Kray. St. Petersburg, Izd. Akad. nauk. T.I, 1878; T.II, 1884; T.III, 1840.
  3. Bronnikov, M. M. Geologic studies in Syrdar'ya oblast' in 1904. St. Petersburg, IGK, 1905. T.24, No.1.
  4. Veber, V. N. Natural resources of Turkestan. Izvestiya Geol. Komiteta. St.Petersburg, 1913.
  5. Argentov, K. I. Preliminary account of geological explorations in the Przheval'sk uyezd of Semirech'ye oblast' in 1911. Gornyy zhurnal, 1913, No.11-12.
  6. Ryabinin, V. I. Bituminous coal in Kok-Maynak urochishche on Dongurme river: Surface and subsurface. 1917, T.2, No.4.
  7. Nalivkin, D. I. Outline of the geology of Turkestan. Tashkent, 1926.
  8. Shabarov, N. V. Coal reserves and the perspectives for a coal industry in Central Asia and the Tashkent + Karatau region. Tashkent, 1926.
  9. Shabarov, N. V. A new (East Fergana) coal basin in the Kirgiz SSR and its analogs in the Uzbek and Tadzhik SSR. Sovyetskaya geologiya, 1939, No.6.
  10. Ognev, V. K. Structural-facies features of coal-bearing strata of the East Fergana coal basin. Izd. Kirgizskogo filiala, Akad nauk SSSR, Frunze, 1946.
  11. Kashirin, F. T. A new coal region in the Kirgiz SSR. Trudy laboratorii uglya Akad. nauk SSSR, 1957, Vyp.7.
  12. Geologiya mestorozhdeniy uglya i goryuchikh slantsev SSSR, T. 6. Ugol'nyye basseyny i mestorozhdeniya Srednyey Azii. Moscow, Nedra, 1968.

Basic development stages in the coal-production industry and in coal geology of Kyrgyzstan from 1917 to 1987

1 2 3
Basic stages in development of the coal industry; growth of coal production Directions in geological exploration work; important achievements; discoveries Achievements in coal geology
Nationalization of the coal pits. Reestablishment of them after the civil war and liquidation of Basmachism. Coal output reached the pre-war level (103 thousand tonnes). In 1927 were begun large scale geological mapping and detailed studies of individual regions with coal deposits. in Kyrgyzstan (N. V. Shabarov). The first geological exploration for coal in Kyrgyzstan was conducted at Kok-Yangak in 1926-1928 under the leadership of the Leningrad geologist Ye. O. Pogrebitskiy. The first general compilation of material on coal geology in Central Asia, including Kyrgyzstan (D. V. Nalivkin, 1926).
First and second five-year plans. Growth of coal output from 103 to 1200 thousand tonnes. Exploration was expanded to provide coal reserves for working operations and to support construction of new shafts at coal deposits in Kyzyl-Kiya, Sulyukta, Tash-Kumyr, and Kok-Yangak. A new (for Kyrgyzstan) coal basin was discovered -- the East Fergana basin, which includes the whole range of coals from long-flame bituminous to anthracite. First publications about the geology and coal resources of Uzgen (East Fergana) bituminous coal basin (N. V. Shabarov, 1939).
Period of WW-II. Growth of coal output from all coal-producing operations: In the five-year period about 7 million tonnes was attained, 1.5 million more than in the pre-war five-year period. Extensive detailed work at all working deposits in order to increase their output (new sections, and shafts at surface mines) suitable for new or reconstructed active producing operations. Detailed exploration of coking coals in the Uzgen basin (Tuyuk and Kargasha deposits) were begun. News of discovery of the new Kavak coal basin released at the Second Coal Geology Conference (F. T. Kashirin, 1955). Publication about geological structure and coal resources of the Kavak coal basin (F. T. Kashirin, 1955). Monograph <<Geologiya SSSR>>, Vol. 20, Kirgiz Republic, part II, Natural resources, including coal (1954). Monograph by V. N. Ognev <<Structural-facies features of coal sequences of the Uzgen (South Fergana) coal basin>> (1946). Publication of the reserve calculations for coal of the USSR, including the Kirgiz Republic, as of January 1953 (N. V. Shabarov, A. V. Tyzhnov, 1956).
Re-establishment and development of the economy. "The law of five-year planned reconstruction and development of the economy of the USSR". Growth in coal output to 3.8 million tonnes. Development of surface mining. Geological reserves of explored coal in Kyrgyzstan reached 15,060 million tonnes in January, 1955. Continuation of prospecting and detailed exploration for coal in the whole territory of the Republic. Discovery of the new Kavak coal basin, in which the coal-bearing sequence contains the basic Republic reserves of energy lignite available for surface mining. Detailed exploration of Kara-Kiche deposit, the most favorable for development in the Kavak coal basin. Publication of volume 6 of <<Geologiya mestorozhdeniy uglya i goryuchikh slantsev SSSR>>, titled Coal basins and deposits of Central Asia (collective of authors, 1968). Monographs on separate coal basins and deposits of Kyrgyzstan (F. T. Kashirin, 1964, 1975).
Basic output of coal mainly from deposits established earlier. Output maintained at 4 million tonnes. Explored reserves of high-quality bituminous coal at Uzgen and of brown coal at Kavak basin practically not exploited.

Repeated recalculation of reserves. Depending on assumed conditions and depth for calculation, reserves in Kyrgyzstan evaluated as (thousand million tonnes): 1956 --33.0; 1979 -- 27.4. (In 1913 coal reserves of entire Central Asia amounted to 157 million tonnes.) Net conditional reserves amount to 2,200 million tonnes.

In conjunction with development of reserves at many existing underground operations, the basic geological work was directed toward establishing new production units at existing underground and surface mines. Prospecting to evaluate possible rare-metal ore potential in coals and adjacent rocks was undertaken at all main coal operations. Coal conference in Frunze (1978), organized by the Bureau of Prospecting and Exploration for solid fuels, Mingeo SSSR (V. F. Cherepovskiy). The conference considered and adopted resolutions on problems of expanding solid fuel resources in Central Asia, exploiting the resources and further directions in geology of the solid fuels.

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