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.
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.