• Back to Encyclopedia Arctica homepage

    Khibiny Mining and Industrial Combine

    Encyclopedia Arctica 10: Soviet North, Geography and General

    Unpaginated      |      Vol_X-0168                                                                                                                  

    Form for receipt of article "Khibiny Mining and Industrial Combine"

    001      |      Vol_X-0169                                                                                                                  


            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

    001      |      Vol_X-0170                                                                                                                  
    [ ?]

    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.

    002      |      Vol_X-0171                                                                                                                  
    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-

    003      |      Vol_X-0172                                                                                                                  

    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-

    004      |      Vol_X-0173                                                                                                                  
    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


    101 101 ﹍ 1101 101 12 ﹍ 1212

    Back to top