Natural resources of the Ural Mountains. The Urals are rich in iron ores, copper, chromium, nickel, manganese, boxes, hard and brown coal, crude oil, natural gas, asbestos, gold, platinum and precious stones, m.in. topazes and emeralds. Due to the occurrence of mineral deposits, the Middle and South Urals are one of the largest industrial districts in Russia. The first ironworks and metal industry plants were established in the Urals as early as the 18th century. Initially, iron ore was smelted in charcoal-fired furnaces, and dense forests, especially in the southern and central parts of the mountains, have been severely depleted.