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

Nepheline (Kola Peninsula)

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NEPHELINE, a grey, clayey mineral chemically resembling feldspar, has
been commercially developed chiefly on the Kola Peninsula (cf.) of the
Soviet European Arctic, where virtually inexhaustible deposits (at
least ten billion tons) have been found in preponderant admixture with
apatite (cf.) as a result of a unique geological phenomenon. As it
contains 34% aluminum oxide, its most important use is as [: ] an ore
for the extraction of that metal. Two plants, one deriving 40,000 tons
of aluminum oxide annually, and another 20,000, have been erected on
the peninsula. Other uses are [: ] extraordinarily varied. In agri–
culture it is used as a lime-calcium fertilizer on sour peaty soils,
reducing acidity. It is extremely important in the growing of flax.
Its uses stem from the fact that, other than aluminum oxide, it contains
44% quartz and 22% potassium and sodium oxide (alkali). Fifteen branches
of industry rely upon it as their main raw material. The first to apply
it was the ceramic and porcelain industry, where, being cheaper, it
ousted feldspar in the manufacture of high-quality porcelain for insu–
lators, sewage pipes, etc. Then the glass industry used it as a [: ]
[: ] source of soda, breaking the monopoly of the Solvay concern, from which
Russia had had to buy it, and saving much-needed foreign exchange.
Thirdly, a chemist, Belov, discovered how to use nepheline products as
a substitute for tannin, which Russia had also imported to a value of
millions of dollars annually. Its value in this connection is that it
dissolves readily in a weak acid solution and is free of silica gel.
The leather is soaked with a nepheline solution and later treated with
ferrous salts. This process imparts the toughness, elasticity and other
properties formerly obtained solely by the use of tanin. Nepheline has
cut by five-sixths to seven- [: ] eighths the cost of tanning reagents
per given quantity of finished leather.
In the textile industry nepheline is used as a substitute for the
much more [: ] alum and sulphate of aluminum. Its ready

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NEPHELINE is [: ] a gray, clayey mineral used [: ]
as an aluminum ore; as a raw material for the production of tanning
extracts, dyes and cement; as a substitute for feldspar (which it re–
sembles chemically) in the manufacture of high-quality porcelain for
insulators and sewage pipes.

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Solubility makes it an inexpensive source of alkali-aluminum [: ] salts,
and renders it valuable in the production of fast dyes. It waterproofs
wood and fabrics, strengthens rubber tires, is used as an alkali in
the [: ] enamel industry, substitutes for silica gel in oil refining,
and has also found practical application in the [: ]
the manufacture of grinding and polishing materials and in the
purification of water. In the chemical industry it is used as a source
of [: ] soda, potash, alum, potassium hydrate, sodium hydrate, ultra–
marine and other products.
As indicated by these [: ] various use, nepheline is itself complex and
is usually found in combination with other chemicals, aside from its
admixture with apatite. This is because it occurs in extruded forma–
tions, of nepheline syenite containing strong alkalis
and weak silicic acid and nepheline basalts. The Artificial mineral
nepheline is NaAlSiO 4 , but the empirical formula of nepheline in nature
is (Na,K) AlSiO 4 ·nSiO 2 , where n=0÷0.25. Customary admixtures in nature
include CaO, sometimes Fe 2 O 3 , Cl and H 2 O. A brittle mineral, nepheline crystallizes in
hexagonal syngonies, is of a hardness of 5.5 to 6, and specific gravi–
ty of 2.58 to 2.64. [: ] Other than in the Khibiny Mts. of
the Kola Peninsula, it forms entire mountain ranges in the Ilmen sec–
tion of the Urals (Miass County) and the Vishnevye district (Kaslin
County) also in the Urals. It has also been discovered near Zeravshan
in Soviet Central Asia and in the Tunkin Mts. of eastern Siberia.
For industrial development and processing, see Apatite and Khibiny .
William Mandel
<formula> 52 52 ﹍ 572 </formula> <formula> 52 12 ﹍ 104 52 ﹍ 624 </formula>
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