Ukraine's biggest coking plant is under threat of closure due to constant shelling. As Ivor Bennett reports, it could have far reaching consequences for the country's precarious economy.
The scars of war are never far away in Ukraine, especially not in Avdiivka. This coking factory near Donetsk has been hit nearly 230 times since the fighting began. Including 70 projectiles in one single attack. Not once, though, did the onslaught stop production. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) WORKER, MIKHAIL YEREMEYEV, SAYING: "There are bomb shelters at the plant. And during heavy shelling, people used them. Families lived here. The plant management did not prevent them from doing it. On the contrary, the management asked people to come here because we must take care of workers." The bomb shelters are basic. The Soviet-era posters inside a testament to just how much times have changed. Rebels aligned to Ukraine's former patron now lie just 10 kilometres away. On a visit to Kiev, the U.S. ambassador to the UN singled out the workers here as a model of Ukrainian resilience. Perhaps not for much longer though - the plant now under threat of closure. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) WORKER, MIKHAIL YEREMEYEV, SAYING: "If this plant shuts down, then first of all it means people will lose their jobs, secondly, the village will simply die because there will be nowhere to work at and as a result people will leave the place." The coking plant is Ukraine's biggest. Its pre-conflict output was 12,000 tonnes a day. Now it's less than half that. Closing it entirely could spell trouble for the economy too. Cutting off fuel to the steel industry - itself a vital lifeline. The plant is owned by tycoon Rinat Akhmetov's Metinvest group, who say they are doing their best to keep it open. (SOUNDBITE) (Russian) METINVEST QUALITY DIRECTOR, GRIGORY KLESHNIA, SAYING: "Staff at the plant and the company management do everything possible so that the factory will not shut down because our plant employs 4,000 people. They are mainly local residents." Keeping it operational a matter of life or death in more ways than one. Furnaces need to be staffed around the clock, even when shells are falling. One worker has died so far - in some ways a miracle there hasn't been more.