Except in the polar and northern sections, the mountains are forested, and lumbering is an important industry. The great mineral resources of Russia are in the Urals. Iron ore is mined in the south, and there are rich deposits of coal, copper, manganese, gold, aluminum, and potash. Oil fields and refineries along the Kama and Belaya rivers in the W Urals produce oil. Emeralds, chrysoberyl, topaz, and amethyst are mined, as are deposits of bauxite, asbestos, zinc, lead, silver, platinum, nickel, chrome, and tungsten.
The Urals industrial area (c.290,000 sq mi/751,100 sq km), a major Russia metallurgical region, is in the central and S Urals and the adjacent lowlands. Huge industrial centers are found at Yekaterinburg, Magnitogorsk, Chelyabinsk, Perm, Berezniki, Nizhni Tagil, Orsk, Orenburg, Ufa, and Zlatoust. The concentration of industry in the Urals has led to the severe environmental degradation of many of the region's mountain habitats.