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Report - Apatite mine, Kola peninsula, Russia, may 2010

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by mistspark, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. mistspark

    mistspark 28DL Member
    28DL Member

    Apr 6, 2011
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    At first Id like to apologies for my poor English language, learned it at school long times ago, so don’t be too strict please.

    This mine was placed around and mostly inside the mountain of northern Hibiny, the ore is apatite. This complex successfully survived till nowadays and is still an urban development enterprise. And yes, all this stuff is behind the Arctic Circle
    Inside the mountain the ore reserves were depleted in early 80s, so now they are digging deeply under the ground level with derrick shafts – inside the mountain we have 4 totally abandoned levels, one semi abandoned with ventilation and pumping devices, and unknown quantity of live ones. They are denoted according to the sea level, for example + 650 or + 120 and connected with vertical skip and men shafts and mining machine ramps. The total length of the tunnels is about 200 km. It was called ‘the hive’ by diggers.
    So we decided to visit the abandoned levels, after the contact with locals two of us left St.Petersburg for Kola. There we met three local comrades – they were the only diggers of this region.
    The entrance portal was in level +650, called ‘Papa’, so we have to climb the hillside to reach our target. We have had a good chance of being caught by mine security service during the climb so we try our best to do that as quickly as possible despite of snow slope and heavy rucsacs.

    Clinbing the hillside, one can see the panorama of operating mine with derrick shafts

    A couple of mine trolleys near the entrance portal

    The Central shaft elevating cage engine. More then half of kilometer shaft beneath it.

    We went down to the level 600 (the ladders in man shaft were made of wood) and then chose the place for our base camp in the former workshop place. Then we started exploring the tunnels.

    This is the central kvekrshlag of the 600 level. 3-4 kilometers length. You can see the elements of the electric catenary for inner narrow-gauge railway system. In general this level was a haulage horizon – the apatite ore was being skipped up from lower horizons through the Central shaft and put outside from this level by mine transport.

    Rail ore-loader

    Rail-mobile drilling rig for mount bolting
    The tunnel network is really great, we even strayed several times for an hour or so despite of our big experience in such places. I see something like that only in operational Ural gold and iron mines.
    This is so called ‘oprokid’ – the special cylindrical rotating machine. The narrow-gauge trolley with ore is placed inside, the whole construction rotates and pulls down ore in shaft. It is placed on the top of the shaft, the depth of it is unknown

    Another beautiful place – ore-passes from the top 650 horizon, with several waterfalls.
    This is the foto of my comrade Lexa, I collect the water from ore-pass. The water from the surface is filtered by dozens meters of rock and quite clean, so you only have to boil it, but some of us drink it as it is.

    Our base camp, time for eating, talking and of cause drinking Russian vodka)
    The temperature was about +2, in some corners of the system there was still ice, our sleeping bags were good for +10. Sleep was poor and the awakening was dreadful. The only way to get warm is to continue the adventure. Down!

    The shaft transport cabine, behind it you can find the hatch to the shaft human-stairs, towards the
    in-between flooded level 420. We called it ‘the red water lair’ because of the color of clay water. It was almost only place with water and some of us had no waders so the cross was organized like this:




    For the next 3 hours we were searching the way deeper to the semi abandoned level 220. Mine-workers cut off lower ladders to prevent the trespass on they territory and we left our SRT stuff at St Petersburg. Finally we have managed to crawl this 10 metrs by rock with some risk
    The time wasn’t good for exploring the life horizons – unfortunately it was the day working time, some miners were even in this semi abandoned level. We heard their voices quite clearly through the roaring of forced ventilation. There were too much of us for stealth acting so we decided to limit our interest with abandoned rail depo and nearby systems:

    During 46 hours of tripping batteries in our foto and video were out, as well as our food and light – so we decided to end the dig. After the long way back the surface met us with cold northern sun and strong wind – but it was damn cool after all this darkness.
    I think we have managed to explore one of tenth part of the mine in its abandoned part, several hundreds of foto and a hour of video were done. This is just a brief report, it is unreal to describe all orts, galleries, shafts, technical halls and machines, and all that cases which happened during exploration – like breaking tunnel gates or something…
    Thanks for attention.

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