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Apatite, calcium fluophosphate (Kola Peninsula): Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General
Stefansson, Vilhjalmur, 1879-1962

Apatite, calcium fluophosphate (Kola Peninsula)

Form for receipt of article "Apatite, calcium fluophosphate (Kola Penin.)"
APATITE, calcium fluophosphate containing forty per cent, usually, of
phosphoric anhydride, is the richest phosph [: ] o r ic combination in nature and
therefore [: ] , a major commercial [: ] source of phosphate fertilizer,.
[: ] Having many other industrial applications, it is a mineral found
chiefly in the Arctic. The largest deposits, twenty times greater than all others
combined, are in the Khibiny Mts. (cf.) of Kola Peninsula (cf.) in the USSR,
where it is found in combination with much larger quantities of nephe–
line (cf.) and near, but not mixed with, numerous other rare minerals.
[: ] . Another deposit in
the USSR is near Sverdlovsk in the Ural Mts. It has also been dis–
covered in Norway, Sweden, Canada, Spain, South Africa and South America. [: ]. The chemical composition is
Ca 5 (ClF) (PO 4 ) 3 . The specific gravity varies between 3.16 and 3.22.
It is of the fifth degree of hardness. It belongs to the hexagonal sys–
tem, as it takes the forms of prisms and thick tablets. The name is
derived from the Greek apatē (deceit), as it resembles many other min–
erals, and was long confused with beryllim, chrysolite and tourmaline.
It may look like ordinary milk-white limestone, like the transparent
crystal of quartz, and like large-grained marble. Its diverse coloring
contributed to the confusion, for it appears white, green, red or violet.
Itsuses are not confined to the derivation of calcium phosphate as a
fertilizer. It can be made into a successful pharmaceutical against
fatigue. It is dissolved into lakes and ponds to accelerate the growth
of fishes. It improves the quality of pig-iron and ennobles bronze.
Steel covered with apatite-film is impervious to corrosion. The deposits
at Mt. Kukisvumchorr on the Kola Peninsula range up to 600 [: ] feet in thick–
ness and outcrop on the hill slopes, whereas the veins discovered in other countries are three to five ft. thick When visited by the International
Geological Congress excursion of 1937, the Soviet mine was regarded as one of
the industrial wonders of the world. The property had been developed
in eight years and there were 20 miles of underground galleries, fully
electrified. Ordinary freight trains carry the ore from the heart of
the mountain.
The discovery of Russia's Khibiny apatite represented the results APATITE, a mineral found chiefly in the Arctic (Murmansk Region; Canada; Norway), is one of the most important sources of phosphate
fertilizers; The chemical composition is Ca 5 (ClF) (PO 4 ) 3 ; specific gravity varies from 3.16 to - 3.22; it is hexagonal
in system (prisms and thick tablets). The name is derived from the Greek
apatē - deceit, as it resembles many other minerals, and was long con–
fused with beryllium, chrysolite and tourmaline. It may look like ordi–
nary milk-white limestone, like the transparent


of vast expenditures by the Soviet government through allocation to
the USSR Academy of Sciences, which organized the necessary expedit–
itions, based on the geological studies of the late [: ] Aleksandr
Fersman (cf.) His conclusions were based on his discovery of the man–
ner of formation of the Khibiny Mountains. They came into being in
the last stages of cooling of the earth's surface, when, due to contrac–
tion, cracks appeared on the surface, and the molten mass flowed again
from within, rich with the volatile contents of phosphorus and fluorine.
The mass finally hardened, forming apatite and nepheline rocks in two
arched ridges. Parties prospecting the area where the presence of
these rare minerals was indicated criss-crossed it for 6,000 miles
on foot and by reindeer, and carried out three tons of rock samples
on their backs before apatite was found. It is now known that the
apatite-nepheline combination lies in the two arcs mentioned above.
The smaller, and western, is of little industrial importance. The
larger, and eastern, stretches for seven miles, and then continues
another seven more to the north of Mt. Kuelpor, prospected in 1931.
Here again apatite rock is traced for a stretch of about a mile.
Exploitation of the resources was undertaken in 1929. The first
problem, [: ] now that the presence of vast commercial deposits
was definitely established, was to learn where the richest ore was
located, how [: ] much of it was there, and determine where the mines
were to be sunk. An apatite-nepheline committee was organized by the
Leningrad Regional Council of National Ecenomy. (The Kola Peninsula
was then administered from Leningrad, 800 miles to the south, for it
was merely a small port - Murmansk - in a semi-desert hinterland, for
all practical purposes.) The colonizing department of the Murmansk
Railroad began building houses and enterprises in the Khibiny Range.
The Scientific Research Institute for Fertilizer began its laboratory
work. Within two-and-a-half months further prospecting provided a of vast expenditures by the Soviet government through allocations to
the USSR Academy of Sciences, which organized the necessary expeditions,
based on the geological studies of the late Aleksandr Fersman (cf.) Parties
[: ] criss-crossing the area where its presence was indi–
cated covered 6,000 miles by foot and behind reindeer, and carried out
three tons of rock samples on their backs until apatite was found. Its
discovery and development has saved the Soviet Union tens of [: ] millions of
dollars formerly spent on the importation of African phosphorites and,
further, has provided a valuable source of foreign currency through ex–
port via Murmansk. Here is an Arctic resource of utility other than mone–
tary that has become a definite asset to the national economy.


detailed report on the apatite seams in Mt. Kukisvumchorr. Prior to
September, 1929, there was a single wooden barracks there, for the pros–
pectors [: ] under Prof. Fersman, where, ten years later,
there stood the town of Kirovsk[: ?] (cf.) with 40,000 inhabitants. But Fersman
was able, at this point, to demonstrate the presence of at least as
much apatite as was known to exist in the rest of the world (as it turned
out, an exceedingly conservative estimate). This made the matter one of
importance sufficient to demand consideration by the State Planning Commi–
ssion of the USSR, the Supreme Council of National Economy, and the
Council of Labor and Defense. All agreed to proceed with development of
these riches, and, late in 1929, a special Apatite Trust was organized,
under V.J. Kondrikov as manager.
The first industrial problem was that of finding the correct angle
for the ore to fall from a height of several hundred yards, [: ]
[: ] as the mine is high on Mt. Kukisvumchorr, which rises
almost like a mesa over the town of Kirovsk. If the angle of fall were
between 10° and 20°, it turned out that the rock would not slide, even
on iron sheets. When it was increased to 35° it crashed with great force,
smashing the wooden walls of the chute and wrecking installations down
below. Finally the correct angle was found, mountain roads were cut for
truck transportation of the ore, and a branch line with numerous spurs
was built from the Murmansk railroad, totaling thirty miles in length. The first trainload of apatite
left in July, 1930. The [: ] S.S. Andre Marty ,
carrying the first samples for export to Hamburg, was besieged and over–
run by speculators, newsmen, scientists and representatives of the phos–
phate fertilizer industry, for German [: ] phosphorite imports
had hitherto been of a Moroccan ore containing seven to fifteen per cent
less phosphoric anhydride than the new Soviet product.
Having dug the mine, built the railroad and made possible the ship–
ment of raw ore, the next step was to develop the processing of the ore 1650 on the spot, to save the tremendous expense of hauling "waste" (later
developed as by-products) to the country's fertilizer factories hundreds
and, in some instances, as far [: ] as two thousand miles away. The first
process is concentration - separation of the apatite from nepheline. Al–
though the first concentration mill built at Kirovsk had only one-twelfth
the capacity of the three now operating, it is a vast affair handling
a dozen carloads of ore per hour, or 1,300 tons of ore daily. In the ab–
sence of any other apatite concentration mills elsewhere in the world, 100
the erection of this enterprise took considerable daring. There was no
precedent for the filtering, drying and storing of apatite concentrate.
Faced with the risk of error on the one hand, and the need for saving the
foreign exchange spent on [: ] phosphorites on the other, the govern–
ment took the decision to proceed with this large mill at the outset,
rather than a small experimental plant, as advocated by some. Meanwhile
two experts were sent to the United States to gather data on ore concentra–
tion and order machinery. They took with them the plan for the mill,
drafted in the record time of forty days. Construction began in February,
1930, while the commission placed orders for the necessary machinery –
600 complex pieces of equipment in all - in the United States, conditioned
upon delivery in six months. The machinery was assembled in [: ] some–
what less than the four months stipulated by the American engineers brought
in to supervise this phase of the work, and the mill went into operation
August 1, 1931.
The concentration plant consists of a crusher, a funnel ten feet
in diameter with a revolving metal cone inside, from which [: ] a rubber belt
conveyor carries the ore to a fine crusher. Then, via a 3,500-ton storage bin, the
pulverized ore goes to a flotation mill. Greasy olein acid is added. Rapid–
ly revolving propellers beat up a foam. Particles of apatite become cover–
ed with grease and air bubbles, coming to the surface in foam , which is
brought to settling tanks, condensed and dried out.
Meanwhile nepheline
remains at the bottom of the tank, helped to settle by liquid glass. This process takes place in a series of long baths placed in checkered order
in the enormous flotation building. The apatite- [: ] saturated
foam is constantly taken off by mechanical scrapers, and pumped to the condenser
department. There the water is settled by machines, the concentrate
thickens and turns into a kind of dough. Then it is filtered and dried
in enormous drums. Still hot, the concentrate, like a white flour, is
poured into a storehouse of 5,000 tons capacity. [: ]
[: ]
[: ] It then goes to a fertilizer
plant which converts it into double superphosphate.
Part of the apatite-nepheline ore does not go to the concentration
mill at all, but to one of three other series of processings. One,
through electrical [: ] sublimation, produces yellow phosphorus,
which in turn is converted into phosphorus salts, phosphoric acid and
phosphorus-sodium salts. Another process, involving the addition, of
other chemicals, produces carbon monoxide, ferr [: ] phosphorus for [: ]
the iron and steel industry, and slag, which is made into bricks. A
third has thermo-phosphates as its end product.
See Nepheline for the treatment of that portion of the combined
ore, and Khibiny Mining and Industrial Combine for the overall integra–
ted [: ] utilization of the many products found in this area.
Lit: Large Soviet Encyclopedia (Russ.) Vol. 3, 1935, p. 142;
Vol. 59, 1935, p. 518; Apatite - The Stone of Fertility , by V. Vishnevsky,
Moscow, 1933; "The Wealth of the Kola Peninsula", VOKS Bulletin , 1939.
William Mandel
<formula> 143 12 ﹍ 286 143 ﹍ 1716 </formula> <formula> 143 143 ﹍ 1573 </formula>
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