Skip to main content

Mineralogical–Geochemical Characteristics of the Snow Cover in Areas with Mining and Ore-Processing Facilities


Mineralogical–geochemical properties of snow were studied in the activity areas of the mining and ore-processing companies Severonikel in Monchegorsk, Karelsky Okatysh in Kostomuksha, and Sibay Mining and Processing Company in Sibay. The mineralogical and chemical compositions of the aerosols corresponds to the metallogeny of the study areas and the ore specialization of enterprises. The solid aerosols consist of the rock-forming and accessory minerals and artificial anthropogenic materials: slag particles and Ni–Fe–Co ± Cu aggregates. The presence of microplastics in the composition of solid aerosols was established within residential areas and on the territory of the Kostomuksha State Reserve, which is under the influence of transboundary transport. Concentrations of metals (Fe, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Pb) in the aerosols and snowmelt water are much higher than the average concentrations of these metals in the Earth’s crust and natural waters. The pH of the snowmelt water is determined by the landscape–geochemical conditions and determines the solubility of metals: the minimum in the steppe landscapes of the Sibay area and the maximum in the Monchetundra (Monchegorsk test site). Within the latter, dissolved forms of chalcophiles and Ni predominate over the solid phase. Dust, metal, and ionic loads on the territory have been calculated. Retrospective analysis over the past 25 years has shown significant changes in the composition of aerosols within the Monchegorsk reference area due to the exclusion of the Talnakh ore dressing process from production. Among the studied emission sources of metals, the greatest contribution to the biogeochemical cycling is made by the Severonikel facilities.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 6.
Fig. 7.
Fig. 8.


  1. 1

    S. B. Bortnikova, V. F. Raputa, A. Yu. Devyatova, and F. N. Yudakhin, “Methods of analysis of data on the pollution of snow cover in the influence zone of industrial enterprises,” Geoekologiya. Inzh. Geol., Gidrogeol., Geokriol., No. 6, 515–525 (2009).

  2. 2

    T. V. Callaghan, M. Johansson, R. D. Brown, P. Ya. Groisman, N. Labba, V. Radionov, R. S. Bradley, S. Blangy, O. N. Bulygina, T. R. Christensen, J. E. Colman, R. L. H. Essery, B. C. Forbes, M. C. Forchhammer, V. N. Golubev, et al., “Multiple effects of changes in Arctic snow cover,” Ambio. 40 (S1), 32–45 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    V. A. Dauvalter and N. A. Kashulin, “Influence of the mining and metallurgical enterprises on the chemical composition of bottom sediments of Lake Imandra, Murmansk region,” Biosfera 7 (3), 295–314 (2015a).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    V. A. Dauvalter and N. A. Kashulin, “Change of nickel and copper concentrations in surface layers of bottom sediments of Lake Imandra for the last 50 years,” Vestn. Murmansk Gos. Tekhn Univ., 18 (2), 307–321 (2015b).

    Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    M. V. Dauvalter, N. V. Saltan, and E. N. Semenov, “Influence of emissions of the mining and metallurgical combine on the chemical composition of atmospheric precipitates, Monchegorsk test site,” Geoekol., Inzh. Geol., Gidrogeol., Geokriol., No. 3, 228–240 (2009).

  6. 6

    P. De Caritat, M. Ayras, H. Niskavaara, V. A. Chekushin, I. Bogatyrev, and C. Reimann, “Snow composition in eight catchments in the central Barents Euro–Arctic Region,” Atmosph. Environ. 32 (14–15), 2609–2626 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    L. N. Ertseva, O. V. Korotkova, P. S. Seregin, and I. G. Fokeeva, “Distribution of microimpurities among phases of converter matter from Pechenganikel’ Combine,”. Russ. J. Appl. Chem. 76 (6), 884–887 (2003).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    N. G. Fedorets and A. N. Solodovnikov, “Influence of emissions of the Kostomuksha mining and processing plants on the pine forest litter in the northern taiga subzone of Karelia,” Tr. Karel’sk. Nauchn. Ts. RAS, No. 6, 143–152 (2013).

    Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    V. M. Feoktistov and I. P. Lazareva, Snow Contamination Caused by an Ore–Dressing Mill. Acidification of Inland Waters (Helsinki, 1994), pp. 51–60 [in Russian].

  10. 10

    V. Ya. Gor’kovets, L. A. Maksimovich, and M. B. Raevskaya, “Kostomuksha as the largest complex ore object of the Republic of Karelia,” Geology of Karelia from Archean to the Present Days. Proc. All–Russian Conference in Honor of 50 th Anniversary of the Institute of Geology of the Karelian Research Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KarNTS RAN, Petrozavodsk, 2011), pp. 188–196 [in Russian].

  11. 11

    T. T. Gorbacheva, S. I. Mazukhina, and T. A. Cherepanova, “Physicochemical modeling of element speciation as supplement to the method of biotesting melted snow waters,” Khimiya Interesakh Ust. Razvitiya 25 (2), 165–172 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    D. Gregurek, C. Reimann, and E. F. Stumpfl, “Mineralogical fingerprints of industrial emissions – an example from Ni mining and smelting on the Kola Peninsula, NW Russia,” Sci. Total Environ. 221, 189–200 (1998).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    D. Gregurek, E. Melcher, V. A. Pavlov, C. Reimann, and E. F. Stumpfl, “Mineralogy and mineral chemistry of snow filter residues in the vicinity of the nickel–copper processing industry, Kola Peninsula, NW Russia,” Miner Petrol. 65, 87–111 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    A. Kabata-Pendias, Trace Elements in Soils and Plants, 4th ed. (Taylor & Francis Group, London, 2011).

    Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    G. Kashulina, P. Caritat, and C. Reimann, “Snow and rain chemistry around the "Severonikel” industrial complex, NW Russia: Current status and retrospective analysis,” Atmos. Environ. 89, 672–682 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    N. S. Kasimov, N. E. Kosheleva, D. V. Vlasov, and E. V. Terskaya, “Geochemistry of snow cover in the eastern district of Moscow,” Vestn. Mosk. Univ., Ser. 5. Geograf., No. 4, 14–24 (2012).

  17. 17

    J. Lehto, M. Lusa, J. Virkanen, J. Paatero, G. Várkonyi, R. Heikkilä, B. Kashevarov, and E. Ieshko “Metal distribution in lakes surrounding the Kostomuksha iron mine and ore dressing mill in northwestern Russia,” Air, Soil and Water Research, No. 3, 67–77 (2010).

    Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    G. Li, Y. Lei, J. Ge, and S. Wu, “The empirical relationship between mining industry development and environmental pollution in China,” Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 14 (3), 254 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    A. P. Likhachev, “Ore-bearing intrusions of the Norilsk region,” Proceedings of the Sudbury–Norilsk Symposium, Ed. by P. C. Lightfoot and A. J. NaIdrett, Ontario Geol. Surv. 5, 185–202 (1994).

  20. 20

    T. I. Moiseenko, I. V. Rodyuzhkin, V. A. Dauvalter, and L. P. Kudryavtseva, Formation of Quality of Surface Waters and Bottom Deposits under Anthropgenic Loads on the Arctic Basin Drainage System (Apatity, 1996) [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    D. V. Moskovchenko and A. G. Babushkin, “Formation of chemical composition of snow waters at the territory of the Khanty–Mansi Autonomous Area,” Kriosfera XVI (1), 71–81 (2012).

    Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    A. Yu. Opekunov, M. G. Opekunova, V. V. Somov, E. S. Mitrofanova, and S. Yu. Kukushkin, “Influence of development of the Sibai deposit (South Urals) on the transformation of metal flow in subordinate landscapes,” Vestn. Mosk. Univ., Ser. 5 Geograf., No. 1, 14–24 (2018).

  23. 23

    M. G. Opekunova, A. Yu. Opekunov, E. E. Papyan, and V. V. Somov, “Phytoindicational properties of the vegetation in landscape transformation studies on Sibay chalcopyrite deposits (Southern Urals),” Contemp. Probl. Ecol. 10 (3), 301–314 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    RD52.04.186–89 Guideline on the Control of Atmosphere Polllution (Moscow, 1991) [in Russian].

  25. 25

    Requirement to the Geochemical Background of the State Geological Map of the Russian Federation on a Scale 1 : 1 000 000 (New Redaction), Ed. by E. K. Burenkov (IMGRE, Moscow, 2005) [in Russian].

  26. 26

    V. P. Shevchenko, S. N. Vorob’ev, S. N. Kirpotin, I. V. Kritskov, R. M. Manasypov, O. S. Pokrovsky, and N. V. Politova, “Investigations of insoluble particles in the snow cover of the Western Siberia from Tomsk to the Ob estuary,” Optika Atmosf. Okeana 28 (6), 499–504 (2015).

    Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    I. V. Timofeev and N. E. Kosheleva, “Geochemical disturbance of soil cover in the nonferrous mining centers of the Selenga River basin,” Environ. Geochem. Health 39, 803–819 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. 28

    M. Tost, B. Bayer, M. Hitch, S. Lutter, P. Moser, and S. Feiel, “Metal mining’s environmental pressures: a review and updated estimates on CO2 emissions, water use, and land requirements,” Sustainability 10 (8), 2881 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    A. A. Vinogradova and Yu. A. Ivanova, “Anthropogenic pollution of Kostomuksha reserve (Karelia) environment under long–range atmospheric transport of aerosols,” Optika Atmosf. Okeana. 24 (6), 493–501 (2011).

    Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    A. A. Vinogradova and Yu. A. Ivanova, “Air pollution in central Karelia under long–range atmospheric transport of anthropogenic admixtures,” Izv. Ross. Akad. Nauk. Ser. Geograf., No. 5, 98–108 (2013).

  31. 31

    G. A. Vostroknutov, “Modern computer technology of geochemical forecasting,” Applied Geochemistry (IMGRE, Moscow, 2002), Vol. 3, pp. 287–304 [in Russian].

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This study was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research, project no. 18-05-00217 “Biogeochemical Indicators and Anthropogenic Transformations of Heavy-Metal Fluxes in Landscapes”.

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. Yu. Opekunov.

Additional information

Translated by E. Kurdyukov

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Opekunov, A.Y., Opekunova, M.G., Kukushkin, S.Y. et al. Mineralogical–Geochemical Characteristics of the Snow Cover in Areas with Mining and Ore-Processing Facilities. Geochem. Int. 59, 711–724 (2021).

Download citation


  • aerosols
  • mineralogical composition
  • metals
  • snowmelt water
  • mining company
  • Sibay
  • Kostomuksha
  • Monchegorsk
  • matte
  • microplastic pollution