Mining road to cross pristine Khibiny mountains

The Khibiny montains on Russia's Kola Peninsula is threatened by construction of roads connecting new mines. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

The road connecting two new apatite-nepheline ore deposits will go straight through what is supposed to be a protected national park on the Kola Peninsula.


The mines are being developed by North-Western Phosphorous Company, founded by the Acron Group to develop new mines near Kirovsk in the Khibiny mountains. The two mines, Oleniy Ruchey and Partomchorr, are located in the outskirts of each side of the Khibiny massif.

The controversial question is how to connect the two mining areas. Environmentalists are strongly opposing the new road, claiming it will destroy the mountains. The area is scheduled by Murmansk authorities to be the Khibiny national park, as reported by BarentsObserver earlier this year.

 “Why can’t they just build a tunnel under the area of the coming national park instead of breaking through the beautiful nature? They are miners; they should know how to build a tunnel, says WWF’s Barents Sea Ecoregion Press officer Tatiana Baeva to BarentsObserver.   

Another option acceptable for the environmentalists would be to construct the road around the national park area.

Scientists agree with WWF that a road will be a disaster for the pristine northern ecosystems.

“The chosen route for the road means the end of the Khibiny. They are very small mountains, which can be destroyed by a dozen dump trucks”, says Marina Vikulina, spokesperson of the Khibiny educational scientific base of Moscow State University. “Development of the Partomchorr apatite-nepheline ore deposit will turn the Khibiny into a semi-corpse. Creation of the national park in such conditions becomes senseless.”

Loggers started this week to cut a 100 hectares forest area to clear the ground for mining at the Partomchorr deposit. Next step will be the road construction itself to link the new mine with Oleniy Ruchey. The first ore was extracted from Oleniy Ruchey in November last year, reads the portal of the mining company.

Several ecological organizations have signed a letter to President Vladimir Putin asking him to call off the road construction.