Last December, the Russian mining industry felt beleaguered by the global recession after it had contracted by 5% in real terms in 2008. The predicament of a number of the country’s biggest mining and related metals companies was such that, in January, there was a widely reported plan to merge them, and have the Kremlin take a 25% share in the resulting group in return for writing off their collective debts, which came to more than USD27 billion, most of which was owed to State-owned banks. Had the megamerger gone through, it would have created a group with a market capitalisation of between USD70 billion and USD100 billion, sales of USD60 billion, and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of USD23 billion. But it did not happen. Reportedly, the idea was vetoed by the Russian Government, apparently because it did not wish to take on the accumulated debts of the companies concerned.