One of Ukraine’s most famous mines has been preserved in Minecraft to help rebuild a school bombed by Russia

By admin Mar27,2024

You can now explore one of Ukraine’s most iconic natural landmarks – and the largest salt mine in Europe – in Minecraft. The virtual replica of the Soledar salt mines and their surrounding town, occupied by Russia troops for the past year in real life, has been led by the wartorn country’s government in an effort to help rebuild a school destroyed during the conflict.

Soledar is found in Ukraine’s highest-popular province of Donetsk Oblast, located on the eastern side of the country. Its location resulted in the region and city becoming especially hard-hit by fighting in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine two years ago. After more than a year of conflict, the town and mines were captured by Russia forces in February 2023, having claimed the internationally-unrecognised annexation of Donetsk in late 2022.

The town and its mines were together responsible for producing more salt than anywhere else in Europe, but have been shut down since the Russian invasion began just over two years ago. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian government – via its fundraising effort United24 – has recently come up with a novel way of both trying to preserve the natural awe of the mines themselves and help some of those affected by the ongoing conflict.

With the help of French devs Endorah and miner Stepan Bandrivskyi, who worked in the mines for a decade, Ukraine has recreated the Soledar salt mines and part of the surrounding town as a playable Minecraft level dubbed Minesalt. With physical access to the real-life mines impossible due to the Russian occupation, the devs spoke to former workers and used a combination of existing photographs, videos and even hand-drawn maps to make a faithful recreation.

“As the city is under temporary occupation, Minesalt is the only way to explore the incredible beauty of these salt mines and commemorate the historical and monumental elements of this place,” said United24’s Yaroslava Gres. “It preserves its memory, paying tribute to the people who have worked there generation after generation.

“We hope that as many people as possible around the world will go through Minesalt and fall in love with the Soledar mines as we have.”


A comparison of the real-life Soledar salt mines and their virtual recreation in Minecraft level Minesalt
Image credit: United24

The level itself tasks players with collecting a set of crystals as quickly as possible, encouraging them to explore the mines and town. Along the way you’ll also find Minecraft characters based on some of United24’s ambassadors, who include the eclectic likes of Virgin billionaire Richard Branson, actor Misha Collins, Nobel Prize winner Paul Nurse and footballer Oleksandr Zinchenko. Bandrivskyi will also be there to chat with you about the experience of working in the real place.

At the end of the level is a quiz about the mines, before encouraging players to donate to efforts to rebuild the local Velyka Kostromka school, which was destroyed by a Russian missile attack in October 2022. (There’s also a raffle being run as part of the donation drive, including – among other things – packs of salt signed by Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.)

The Minesalt server for Minecraft can be found at mc.minesalt.net, and is available to play now.

By admin

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