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Kola! 2017 part 2

Last Updated: 4th Dec 2018

By Jolyon & Katya Ralph

This is a LIVE report, keep this page loaded for live updates - new images will appear as they are added.

Finally the weather has changed and we can go up the mountain onto the Khibiny massif. Just waiting for the cable car to open.

Going up...

Town of Kirovsk where we stay.

At the top.

Eudialyte rich pegmatites right next to the ski lift station.

Admiring the view

Welcome to the tundra.

Cannonballs? No grinding balls from grinding machines

Hiking down to the next locality

The processing plant for apatite ore.


Hiking on. And the sun is out!

Time to try the drone

Now we've reached our destination, where we have an exposed vein containing catapleiite and analcine etc

Katya tried the Russian Selfie Stick.

Or, if you prefer, a drone group selfie.

Finally down from the mountain! What an amazing day!

Quick visit to Fersman's original mineral research station - or rather the site where it stood.

Nice views here

Last collecting spot of the day, some pseudonorph replacements of delhaleyite conprosibg hydrodelhaleyite, pectolite and red dots of Villiaumite

We are leaving this morning to visit the Lovozero massif - no idea if our internet there will be as good as in Khibiny but if not I'll update tonight.

Visiting the collection of Viktor Grigorievich Grisha who has an excellent Kola collection.

Spheres cut only from Kola materials.

Impressive catapleiite specimen. Sorry about delay we lost internet on the Lovozero massif

Next we visited the local museum

Various local minerals

Collection of chemical products mined here, including Caesium phosphate, rubidium metal and rare earth phosphates

Next, we visited the Umbozero mine, abandoned for 15-20 years.

The abandoned Umbozero mine from the air.

Next stop was the Umbozero mine northern quarry.

We found a pegmatite vein with aegirine crystals, Ussingite and beautiful lilac murmanite. Here are some of the finds, also including an ilmenite crystal and several euhedral large eudialyte group mineral crystals.

First stop today, Afrikanda.

Middle of nowhere and we meet up with Igor Pekov, famous Russian mineralogist and a group of Russian collectors.

The quarry.

Digging in the quarry for perovskite.

Blue skies at last and a fantastic perovskite specimen - what a great day! Now driving to Kovdor!

We've arrived in Kovdor!

Evening walk to see the Kovdor mine. We'll be back here tomorrow for an official visit.

Kovdor mine at sunset.

Katya channelling her soviet past. Kovdor mine entrance.

Before we start the day in Kovdor, I finally got the drone video from the trip to Umbozero onto the computer...

Waiting for the safety briefing at the Kovdor mine.

About to start our safety training at the Kovdor mine, a requirement for access

At the Kovdor mine waiting for our contact who will take us in to collect.

Company bus ride into the mine.

Admiring the view

The mine


Big magnetite crystals

If anyone knows what this is let me know below!

We start today at the dumps of the phlogipite quarry looking first for diopside.

Diopside with phlogopite

Sad kola opal!

The phlogopite quarry


Now to the iron mine dumps

Walking to the dumps

Beautiful forest

At the dump!

Mica crystals in a calcite pod in massive diopside

Visit to Kovdor museum!

Mineral display of minerals from the local mines.


Incredible Kovdorskite

Large 'Francolite' (carbonate-fluorapatite)

Reproduction of the inside of the tent of the Saami people - the original inhabitants of the area before the Russians came.

Display dedicated to the discoverers of the Kovdor iton deposit in the 1930s

A reconstruction of a traditional lantern using phlogopite mica windows.

Kovdor mine in 1961

Mine diorama. I'm pretty sure our son, Roman, has exactly the same diggers and trucks at home.

Minerals of the deposit card - produced by the mine owners, EuroChem.

Concentrates from the mine. Magnetite, left, baddelleyite - centre, apatite right. The smaller white isn't labelled.

Found a mineral shop

Minerals and all sorts of Stuff.


Most of these are not officially for sale, although I suspect they would take offers.

Back on the dumps of the Kovdor iron mine, but this time inside the area of the mine itself.

Nice big magnetite crystals

Visiting the ore processing plant.

The plant

Inside the magnetite processing plant.

There are a mixture of rod and ball mills at the plant.

Inside one of the rod mills.

Flotation tank.

The collecting side of our trip has finished, and we celebrate with an evening Vodka party at the Phlogopite mine dumps.

No, this isn't a radioactive pirate, it's Charles Gould playing with his UV torch.

Our fireworks were meant to be the highlight of the evening, and they were excellent. But they were not the highlight...

Because nature decided to give us a natural firework display beyond our wildest expectations...

A few of us left at midnight to take more photos of the aurora, and this time we weren't disappointed.

A perfect ending to this (usually) live report, thank you all for reading!

Article has been viewed at least 8459 times.


Many more photos on mindatorg instagram


Jolyon & Katya Ralph
26th Aug 2017 3:17pm
Thank you indeed Jolyon and Katya for making this possible. I could not make it this time to the Mindat trip but it is possible for me to see what it is like over there.

John Attard
27th Aug 2017 6:05am
One thing I find impressive is how good the internet is in general here in northern Russia. Hotel Wifi even in small town hotels is better than almost any wifi in hotels in the US and 3G/LTE coverage outside is surprisingly good.

Jolyon & Katya Ralph
27th Aug 2017 8:45am
Thanks ever so much for sharing Viktor Grigorievich Grisha's catapleiite specimen with us! These Lovozero Massif catapleite specimens are really quite amazing, a true treasure!

Mark Heintzelman
28th Aug 2017 4:26pm
Good to know, Jolyon. When Nat and I were in Scandinavia a couple years, we had good internet all the way to Nordkapp in Norway. It truly is becoming a connected world... The photos are great as well. Thanks for sharing!

Paul Brandes
29th Aug 2017 2:40am
Yes the wifi was good up there. Thanks again for the wonderful trip!

Casper Voogt
25th Nov 2018 3:15am

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