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Karelia is truly a land of contrast and it is especially true about our weather. Winter in Karelia usually lasts for about 5 months with periods of extreme cold, when you can’t even stand still for ten seconds outside without your bones freezing. So when you experience that every year you would think that the rest of the year is much colder than in the South. Well, tough luck, for a couple of months in summer the weather can be really hot and it is only exacerbated by 100% humidity, which is usually the case in Karelia. So, now it is June and it is literally impossible to stay inside unless being super sweaty and unable to breathe is something that you genuinely enjoy (Note that almost no one owns an AC unit here, since more than half a year you wouldn’t need it). Who knows, tastes differ, I am not the one to judge. Yet for most people who live in Karelia these couple of months of hot weather is a long-awaited opportunity to spend countless hours outside and enjoy our famous Karelian weather. And that’s exactly what we at Karelian Heritage decided to do and took a trip into the heart of shungite – Zazhoginskoe shungite deposit.
It can come as a surprise, but we don’t live right next to shungite deposits. The Republic of Karelia is a large region (just as Russia is a large country) and is of the size of an average European country. And even though I deal a lot with shungite and I have a bunch of shungite pieces and items lying around me right now, I am just a city boy and I am in no way related to how shungite is mined and produced. I live, and our company is situated, in the largest city and the capital of Karelia – Petrozavodsk. Yet people ask us all the time, how shungite is mined and produced and where are the deposits, so we have decided, as the weather now allows us, to travel to, truly, the home of shungite. To get to Zazhoginskoe deposit, you need to travel 235 kilometers (146 miles) inland to the Zaonezhie Peninsula, so you can understand that it was just as an adventure for us as it would be for you. But anyway, I got to see how it all looks and how some shungite products are produced, so today I am here to tell you all about it.
The first stop in our trip to the land of shungite was a small village called Tolvuya, which is situated right beside the deposit. It is indeed very small as less than a thousand people live there. The road there from Petrozavodsk can take a long time since Karelia has a really crazy terrain with numerous lakes, rivers, and rocks and the deposit is on a peninsula, however, we didn’t mind as Karelian scenery is always a magnificent sight. You may be wondering, why Tolvuya and not Shunga, since shungite is named after it, yet since the discovery of shungite a lot of new deposits were found and it just so happened that Tolvuya is only 5 km away from Zazhoginskoe deposit.
After a quick stop in Tolvuya, we headed to the main goal of our trip – the deposit itself. And I’ve got to tell you, that was a uniquely magnificent sight. To see this stone, that I truly adore and which became an integral part of my life, in such a great scope is really breathtaking. Now, a little context here: Zozhoginskoe deposit is considered to be the largest shungite deposit on the planet, and an estimated 50 million tons of shungite lay there. The deposit itself is 22 x 11 square kilometers in size, but, obviously, most of the stone is underground, but open quarries are still very massive and are of the size of a small town.
So all of the mining that takes place in the deposit is surface mining. The largest quarry actually isn’t deep; you can even find a small lake in the midst of it. All shungite that is excavated here in large volumes is the 3rd type of shungite and the mining itself is nothing special for surface mining – excavators mine rock, load it into trucks, and then it is transferred to production, where larger stones are cut into even and smaller ones. After that, where shungite goes depends on its purpose.
The large chunk of shungite is used in industry so that shungite goes further to factory lanes. But what interests us, of course, is shungite for personal use, and all the work on shungite decorative items, like shungite cubes, spheres, pyramids, figurines, etc., are made individually by crafters both here in Tolvuya and even in the capital, Petrozavodsk, just like our products. A lot of residue from crafting also finds its purpose, for example, shungite chips or shungite powder, that we do use extensively since none of it loses powerful shungite properties.
Yet the most wonderful thing that you can find on the territory of Zazhginskoe deposit are the elite shungite veins. Elite shungite or the 1st type shungite, as you may know, is extremely rare, that is why it is not mined in those large quarries. Usually, it is concentrated in small areas, and some of them are on the surface. The largest elite shungite vein is very visible and you can come close to it to enjoy its silvery beauty. Due to active mining there (which is mostly manual, since elite shungite is very fragile), it looks like a cave today, but, of course, entering it is prohibited without a permit. Stones, which are mined there usually go straight to customers (with our help), and there is no production required, again, due to the fragile nature of elite shungite. We, of course, clean the stones and pack them carefully, so when they arrive to you, they look even more mesmerizing and presentable.
So all in all, I would say that the trip was very educational even for us, despite the fact that we deal with shungite every day. It is always awesome to see what kind of wheels are turning behind the work you do, and it is certainly great to explore your home region even more. It would be hard to imagine that a small area of Zazhoginskoe deposit can store so much raw power of shungite and magnificent energy of the Earth, but now we have seen it for ourselves. And we hope that every last one of you, who haven’t already started a journey into shungite healing and protection would one day enjoy a piece of the North from there mountains and caves of shungite. That is what the North is, after all. Stay safe and healthy and I’ll see you next month with maybe another crazy story about shungite and crystals!