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Khibiny Mining and Industrial Combine: Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Khibiny Mining and Industrial Combine

Form for receipt of article "Khibiny Mining and Industrial Combine"
1150
KHIBINY MINING AND INDUSTRIAL COMBINE, titled the Apatite Trust, on the
Kola Peninsula (cf.), is a vast vertical enterprise established in 1930
to exploit its [: ] vast and [: ] unique mineral resources, Its mines and factories are [: ]
located chiefly in the towns of Kirovsk (cf.), Monchegorsk (cf.) and Kandalaksha (cf)
[: ] . These resources, extraordinarily varied and complex,
were discovered by a series of expeditions under Fersman (cf.) organized
by the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. The most important of these re–
sources, and that which [: ] called forth the creation of the Apatite
Trust and the towns and plants it has erected, is that of apatite in
conjunction with nepheline. These minerals are of exceptionally great
importance to the chemical industry. Apatite, as a mineral containing
phosphorus, is used chiefly in the fertilizer industry, while nepheline
is chiefly utilized for the derivation of aluminum oxide, Therefore
and, from it, metallic aluminum. Therefore, one of the first industrial
problems to be solved was the separation of apatite from nepheline in
view of their different applications. But this had to be planned in such
a manner as to be combined most economically and effectively with the
utilization of the other unusual and valuable minerals found here. These
include both rare metals and earths such as molybdenum, lovchorrite
(containing thorium), eudialite (zirconium silicate and others, as well
as magnetic [: ] pyrites serving as a raw material for the derivation
of sulphuric acid, and finally building stone in the form of diatomites,
felspar or feldspath a variation of feldspar called khibinite and others.
The processing proceeds as follows. The apatite-nepheline ore is
dug [: ] out of Mine #1 at Kuki svumchorr Mt. and delivered to a
concentration plant (cf. Apatite for details) where it is divided into
its two major components, [: ] by a flotation process,
resulting in separated apatite and nepheline concentrates. The apatite concentrate
consists of 40.5% P 2 O 5 ; 51.5% CaO; [: ] 3.2% F; 0.9% Na 2 O; 0.5% Al 2 O 3 ;
0.4% SiO 2 ; 0.2% Fe 2 O 3 ; 0.1% K 2 O. The nepheline concentrate consists
of 41.4% SiO 2 ; 28.11% Al 2 O 3 ; 4.01% Fe; 2.90% P 2 O 5 ; and 0.25% TiO 2 . The [: ]
KHIBINY, or Umptek, Mountains, [: ] 440 square miles
in area, [: ] on the Kola Peninsula (cf.), constitute the world's largest known
mass of alkaline rocks. Immediately to the east, across Lake Umb (Umbozero) [: ] , there
lies the Lovozero Tundra Range, also alkaline in composition (in this case
a variation of nepheline syenites) [: ] . Further to the east, beyond Lake
Lov (Lovozero, Luiavrurt), lies the drainage divide of the Kola Peninsula,
composed of the world's largest mass of alkaline granites.

Khibiny Combine

apatite concentrate then goes to superphosphate factories for the most
part, where the usual treatment with sulphuric acid results in first
class superphosphate, far superior in quality to that gotten from
phosphorites. The nepheline concentrate, by further treatment, is
freed of iron and transformed into a raw material for the extraction
of aluminum. (cf. Nepheline ) The apatite ores are in part further
transformed, through electrical volatilization, into yellow phosphorus
and, past that stage, into phosphoric acid or red phosphorus. The
processing of the apatite concentrate with the phosphoric acid thus
obtained not only avoids the use of sulphuric acid, with which the
USSR is not too well supplied, in the manufacture of superphosphates,
but results in the manufacture of acid phosphorus fertilizers three
times richer in their [: ] phosphoric acid content than is
ordinary superphosphate.
Another use of the apatite-nepheline ore consists of baking it
together with alkalis and then [: ] pulverizing it, which re–
sults in the creation of another type of fertilizer, thermophosphate,
hitherto not manufactured in the USSR. The presence of potassium in
the original ore further enriches the thermophosphate and consider–
ably increases its usefulness as a fertilizer, making it superior
to foreign thermophosphates in this respect, as they do not contain
potassium. Finally, the original ore, pulverized, may be [: ]
introduced into the soil directly without any processing as a ferti–
lizer for [: ] certain purposes.
The alkaline processing of nepheline concentrate into aluminum oxide
provides as a by-product binding material similar to Portland cement.
Further, the Soviet Cement Institute determined that this material
does not even require kilning. As a result, the largest cement works
in Europe has been erected at Kirovsk (cf.). The reserves of joint
apatite-nepheline ores, on which the above-mentioned processing enter-

Khibiny

prises are founded, reach some two billion tons, of which Mt. Kukisvum–
chorr contains not less than 300,000,000. There are, in addition, in–
exhaustible reserves of the less valuable pure nepheline ore.
The presence of magnetic pyrites in the Khibiny Range - a source
of sulphuric acid with a somewhat lesser content of [: ] sulphur than
pyrites (that is, 20 to 22%) have made it possible to supply that
vital industrial product to Leningrad and northern European Russia,
which hitherto had to haul it all the way from the Urals. Finally, the
exploitation of these and the other (nearly 100) types of minerals
found here is facilitated by the great [: ] water power resources
of the Kola Peninsula, the presence of an ice-free port at Murmansk,
and the [: ] construction of the White-Sea Baltic
Canal and the electrification of the Murmansk Railroad, vastly rais–
ing its capacity.
The overall significance of the Khibiny Mining and Industrial
Combine lies in the fact that apatite concentrate has become the chief
source of superphosphate at all the superphosphate plants in the USSR:
Leningrad, Molotov in the Urals, Dzerzhinsk (the Chernorechenskii
plant), the Voskresensk plant near Moscow and even at Konstantinovka,
Odessa and Vinnitsa in the Ukraine. Secondly, despite the long haul
required to these plants relative to that needed to utilize local
phosphorite deposits, the richer quality of apatite far more than
makes good the greater transport costs from the Arctic. [: ]
[: ] As a result, apatite has [: ] become by far
the [: ] preponderant raw material in use in the Soviet fertilizer
industry, far outstripping phosphorites. However, the lesson of World
War II was not lost on the Russians. Whereas the apatite mines were
not taken by the Germans, they came dangerously close. Further, the
overloading of the railroads by military freight made it impossible
to ship as much of it as might have been desired. Therefore, the post–
war 4th 5-Year Plan provides for an ex- tensive development of fertilizer industries all over the USSR based
on phosphorites, so that the loss or isolation or destruction of the
Khibiny will have, after 1950, a relatively small effect on agriculture.
With the erection of the two dozen mining and processing enter–
prises required to [: ] make possible the complex utilization of
all the possibilities inherent in these ores, there arose the problem
of providing local food supplies, developing the raising of livestock,
growing vegetables, training personnel, etc. The degree to which these
have or have not been solved is discussed more fully in the articles
on Murmansk Region and on the Kola Peninsula. But the Khibiny Combine
has taken its place in history as the first overall complex development
of industry in the vast Soviet sector of the Arctic, and by all odds
the largest in the Arctic as a whole.
William Mandel
<formula> 101 101 ﹍ 1101 </formula> <formula> 101 12 ﹍ 1212 </formula>
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