Russia – The Kola Peninsula.

The Kola Peninsula sits almost completely above the arctic circle, south of the Barents Sea. Murmansk is the only large city in the Russian portion of what was traditional Lapland. The Khibiny Mountains surrounded by tundra in the center of the peninsula was the result of the mineralogically rich agpaitic alkali intrusions. Glacial erosion helped uncover the pegmatitic rocks which comprise the khibiny and Lovozero massifs. As a testament to this wonderful mineral location, many of the minerals discovered here were named in honor of these localities.

Lapland anyone? Yesterday Reuters carried a report of Russia offering Germany help with rare earth elements from the Kola Peninsula. In reality, Russia is suggesting that Germany help Russia develop the vast mineral deposits in the Kola Peninsula, Russia’s Lapland. Germany would be foolish to turn down the proposal out of hand. Germany has previous form in the Kola Peninsula, home to a secret German naval base at the start of World War Two, before Hitler seized Norway and it was no longer needed. Below, how Reuters covered the development.

Russia offers Germany help on rare earths
18th July 2011

WOLFSBURG – Russia is offering Germany closer cooperation on rare earths as well as gas and oil supplies, a Russian official said on Monday ahead of an annual bilateral summit in Germany.

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Berlin has been trying to improve German industry’s access to the prized metals, which are used to manufacture a range of high-tech products and whose supply has been hit by export curbs by dominant producer China, among other factors.

“There are very many rare earths deposits on the Kola peninsula,” said Valeri Jasev, president of the Russian Gas Society and deputy head of Russia’s parliament, adding that the two countries could increase cooperation in the area.

The statement came before German Chancellor Angela Merkel was to meet Russian President Dmitry Medvedev later on Monday and on Tuesday to discuss deepening ties, with oil and gas cooperation figuring prominently on the agenda.

So what is up for grabs in the Kola Peninsula? Well it turns out quite a lot as far a minerals go.

MINERAL LOCALITY: The Kola Peninsula, Russia

—-In addition to the unusual chemistry of high alkali metal content and low silica and aluminum content; there is also unusually high concentrations of titanium, zirconium, phosphorous, manganese, strontium, zinc, lead, uranium, barium and especially rare earth metals such as yttrium, niobium, cerium, lanthanum, cesium, ytterbium and neodymium. Many of the new minerals found here are typically sodium titanium silicates. By far the greatest number of unique minerals from the Kola Peninsula are silicates. But, unique carbonates, oxides and phosphates are also well represented. In the table below, minerals that were first discovered from the Kola Peninsula (called the mineral’s type locality) are in bold. The list below is quite extensive, but still not close to a complete list of all the minerals found here. The list of minerals includes those minerals that were discovered here as well as those that have been given world wide attention from this locality.

Russia may cash in as China cuts rare earth metal exports
This online supplement is produced and published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Russia), which takes sole responsibility for the content.
Ivan Rubanov, Expert magazine 
3:55PM GMT 24 Feb 2011

China’s decision to reduce exports of rare earth metals shocked the world, but ?the crisis could be an opportunity for Russia

— The REM crunch, however, may prove to be an opportunity for Russia. Currently, there is practically no REM production; rare earth metals are mostly produced as a by-product.

In northern Russia, for instance, the Lovozersk integrated mining-and-processing plant (IMPP) mines loparite ores (which contain a wide range of REM: tantalum, niobium, zirconium, lanthanum, cerium, etc) and the Solikamsk Magnesium Plant (SMP) processes concentrates of these. But these facilities focus on the production of magnesium; the rare earth metals business is merely auxiliary.

Russia has the second largest explored reserves of REM in the world (about 30pc); and the world’s largest anticipated reserves. A good example is the Lovozersk deposit in the northern Murmansk Region, which “consists of three main minerals in about equal shares,” says Alexandr Samonov, a researcher for the Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy, and Geochemistry of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Besides loparite, the triplet includes eudyalite, an exceptionally rare mineral, which, outside the Kola Peninsula, is found in small quantities only at two locations in the world,” he said.

For the production of rare earth metals, eudyalite is much more attractive than loparite, as the REM content is 2–3pc, twice that of loparite, Mr Samonov said. And ore reserves that can be surface-mined are estimated at 80 million tons.


Go northeast young man, go northeast.

  1. At least until it was acquired by Molycorp, the rare-earths feedstock for the Silmet facility in Estonia came from the Karnasurt / Lovozero mine in the Kola Peninsula.

  2. Someone posted that Alkane had mastered the reduction of eudialite, but I can’t find the comment now. Looking for more information this morning I have found releases from both Tasman and Matamec that they are having success in removing rees from eudialite. I also ran across an interview of Dr. Tony Mariano from early 2010 that has some verbage pertinent to the Kola Peninsula story:
    >> snip… In looking at the rare earths industry in more detail, Dr Mariano said the major sources in history were from mineral bastnasites, a rare earth carbonate which is derived almost exclusively from carbonatites.
    Other forms include monazite, which has been mined from beach sands as a by-product from other types of mining; xenotime, which is derived from the same source; loparite, a derivative of a calcium titanium silicate, ion-adsorbed rare earth elements and yttrium in clays like those found at South China Clays; and uraninite, which will host small quantities of substitutional heavy rare earths.
    “That mineral (loparite) can contain a lot of rare earths substituting for the calcium and it can have niobium and tantalum substituting for the titanium,” Dr Mariano explained.
    “The Russians mined this for many years as their major source of rare earths niobium and tantalum, but in the western world, including Australia, I don’t think we could afford to mine it, but I believe the
    Russians are back mining it on a small scale.” …snip < <
    That interview has enough info for me to print it so I can use it for reference. I think I am going to have to create some variety of tree diagram to keep all this stuff straight.

  3. Ore from Lavozero come to Solikamsk, because the ore need to reduce radioactivity. Solikamsk Plant has possibility to devide products from rare-earth Ce, La, Pr, Nd from Ta and Nb and store radioactivity. Then Cerium carbonate able to sold or mixture of rare-earth sale to Kazahstan Works and Silmet.

  4. Re: Alkane: Are you talking about this report (April 2010)?
    “Dr Tony Mariano said the rare earths industry was paying close attention to the work
    being undertaken by Alkane at Dubbo. “Alkane is getting their rare earths from a calcium zirconium silicate which is very much like eudialyte, but amenable to chemical processing,” he said.”
    But see this more current report (June 2011):
    “Mr. Chalmers pointed out that while the Zr- and HREE-bearing minerals at Dubbo resemble eudialyte and armstrongite, they are not exact analogues for these known minerals. The process developed at the demo plant for extracting Zr and REEs from these minerals does not result in the so-called “silica gel” problem, which can cause problems in other processes, with the development of “crud” in solvent extraction circuits. While this is obviously advantageous for the Dubbo project, because the minerals are not exact analogues, it does not necessarily follow that the flow sheet could be applied to other Zr-REE-bearing mineral deposits.”

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