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The Caucasus is a mountain range between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, only the northern slopes of this range became part of Russia. The southern part of the Caucasus is now part of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. The Russian part of the Caucasus is made up of numerous republics, of which Chechnia, Dagestan and North Ossetia are best known. There are several mineral localities on the Caucasus. In this chapter only the Russian ones are mentioned. I'm not into politics and neither am I your guardian, but the Caucasus is about the only region in Russia where it can be seriously unsafe to travel as a foreigner. So if you plan a visit there, be sure to check if the specific area is safe. 


This a a strange locality. At the end of the 19th century Alagir, in North Ossetia, was one of the world's most important producers of zinc. there is an old Russian stock certificate of 1896. Some people might know Alagir from this. Fact is that Alagir is no mineral locality as such, but the place of an important smelter of the Sadon mining district.


Alikonovka is located just west of Kislovodsk. The locality is known for it's chalcedony. The mineralogy occurs in geodes in cretaceous limestone

Calcite Celestine Chalcedony



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Amanauz is a river, just south of the Dombai ski resort in the high Caucasus. Not much is known from this deposit by me, other than that it is an amphibolite.

some unknown rocks and minerals:

Amanauz-rock1.jpg (50799 bytes) Amanauz-rock2.jpg (43880 bytes) Amanauz-rock3.jpg (46761 bytes) amanauz-rock4.jpg (32423 bytes)

Ferrotschermakerite, Prehnite


If you know more about these rocks, minerals or the locality please contact me by clicking HERE


Arkhonsky Rudnik is located 3.6km west of Kholst along the the Arkhon river. For the geology see Kholst, below. Arkhon is also located in the Sadon-Unal anticline and the deposits are neary identical.

Ankerite Barite Calcite Galena Pyrite Pyrrhotite Quartz Siderite Sphalerite

Geology of Ore Deposits, V.I. Smirnov, 1976, p316

Barytovyi pass

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Barytovyi pass is a small batite mine or prospect on the slope of Jemorakly Tyube, about 5km north of Arkhyz in Respublika Karachai-Cherkes. Arkhyz is named as barite and witherite locality in literature. Barytovyi pass is probably the same.

Barite, Marcassite, Pyrite

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Bedenskoye, or Mount Beden is located on the watershed between the Laba and Urup rivers. It is a small deserted complex of about three closed magnesium mines.

Bedenskoye is a serpentinite which is partially weathered to secondary magnesium minerals.

Brucite Hydromagnesite Pyroaurite





Belorechensk is a tricky name. Meaning 'white river', the mine refers to the Belaya river and not to the town of Belorechensk. The mining complex is located much further south than this town near the town of Kamennomostskiy, right along the Belaya river in Adygea.
There are a lot of mysteries around Belorechensk. This is deliberately caused by the Soviet regime, because the area was mined for uranium, a strategic commodity. There are three localities close by eachother or maybe they are the same. Officially Belorechensk is a barite, polymetallic mine. Then there is nearby Dakhovskoye, which is a hydrothermal Ag-Ni-Co-Bi-U deposit. No uranium should occur in Belorechensk, yet uraninite and coffinite are often offered from here by mineral dealers. On google earth no mining activity is seen at Dakhovskoye, this could mean that the mines and dumps are cleaned up. Then there is 'Nikel'. Nikel was a mining town in the area, where Nikel was code for uranium. Adit 13 of the Dakhovskoye/Belorechensk district was locally known as Nikel mine.
So in literature there is a distinct difference between Dakhovskoye with uranium and Belorechensk without uranium, but I can not see this difference in specimen offered on the market.

Belorechensk consists of paleozoic metamorphic rocks and granitoids, covered by lower Jurassic sedimentary sandstone and clay. The mineralogy is related to different types of hydrothemal veins. There are barite veins, dolomite/ankerite veins and the more interesting but rarer Ag-Bi-Ni-U veins.

Ankerite Barite Berthierite Chalcopyrite Coffinite Curite Dolomite Fluorite Galena Gersdorffite Krutovite Marcasite Miargyrite Millerite Nickeline Polydymite Pyrargyrite Pyrite Pyrostilpnite Schrockingerite Serpierite Silver Sphalerite Strontianite Ullmannite Uraninite Vaesite

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Beshtau uranium deposit


Located near Pyatigorsk in Stavropolski Kraj. Interesting is the thallium mineralogy! By the way 'Besh' means five and 'Tau' means mountains in Turkish. So Pyatigorsk is just the Russian translation. The history of Beshtau remains sketchy because of the strategic importance of uranium during the cold war. Although references of Beshtau exist from the 19th century, it is believed that modern mining operations started at the east side of Beshtau hill in 1949 by drilling. Earlier geological literature probably only deals with the mineral waters around Mineralnye Vody. An interesting source for historic information is a CIA report on the facility, dating from 1959. Based on areal survey a map shows mines on the eastern and southern slope of Gora Beshtau, on Gora Sheludivaya, on Gora Ostraya, on Gora Medovaya and to the north on Gora Buk. The Beshtau mines were closed around 1990.

Besthau consists of hydrothermal veins in granite porphyry. The granite forms a total of 11 laccolith intrusions, which manifast themselves as hills or mountains in a fairly flat area. The older country rock consists of cretaceous and tertiary layers. At Beshtau this is sandstone and shale, at Buk this is limestone. Apart from the thallium mineralogy, Beshtau is also special because uranium ores occur here together with manganese ores.

Evansite Lermontovite Lorandite Marcasite Opal Pyrite Uraninite Vrbaite




Beskes is a pyritic copper deposit not far from Urup. It is from the same age and same type.

Not known, but probably like Urup

Bosninsky mine

A large dolomite mine in North Ossetia.

Buron mine

A tin mine, located in North Ossetia.


Gmelin-Krauts Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie, Sn

Chegem river

Chegem river is known a granitic gold deposit. Much of the Chegem valley consists however of jurassic limestone, from which the specimen below originates. See also the Lakargi entry, below.

Dolomite Gold Quartz

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Cheget is situated southeast of Elbrus volcano right on the border with Georgia.

Cheget is a andalusite mica schist of the so called pre-alpine basement of the main range of about 425 Ma. The rock was later not disturbed by hercynian magmatism and therefor serves as excellent study material for this era of Caucasus evolution.

Andalusite Biotite Garnet Ilmenite Monazite-Ce Muscovite Plagioclase Tourmaline Zircon




V.Yu. Gerasimovsky, Thermochronological modeling of the Greater caucasus metamorphism age, Geophysical reshearch abstracts Vol7, 07853, 2005


Dakhovskoye is located very close to Belorechensk deposit. It was mined in the 1940's, but recently more specimen from this deposit came on the market. It is  a part of the Belorechensk deposit. See Belorechensk for more information.

Breithauptite Ullmannite


Dzhalankol is a remote barite locality along the upper reaches of the Dzhalankol stream, a tributary of the Kuban river.

Barite Chalcopyrite Galenia Sphalerite Witherite




Elbrus volcano

The Elbrus volcano is with 5198m the highest peak of  Europe. This young stratovolcano is situated on a precambrean ridge. The only known eruption occured around 50 AD.


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Elbrusski mine

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 (click for more pictures)


Elbrusski mine became famous for it's great Orpiment specimen. The mine is located in a river valley 35km northeast of Mt.Elbruss in the valley of the Kuban river. The deposit was discovered 1829, but worked for the first time after the october revolution in the early 1920's. Lead, zinc, copper and silver is mined at two levels, under the Kuban river. 

The book Zarenschätze by Peter Kolesar lists the Elbrusskij mine as epithermal As (Hg, Sb) deposit. I have my doubts since a recent visit to this site revealed sphalerite and galena veins without arsenic mineralogy. So there might be some zonation from pure Pb/Zn veins to epithermal arsenic veins.

Sofar I did not come across a complete list of minerals from Elbrusski mine. Below are observation of self made (well Sergey's) finds.

Azurite Barite Calcite Galena Orpiment Pyrite Quartz Seligmannite Sphalerite

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Gapca is a mercury deposit in Dagestan, located close to the Samur river. Geologically it consists of Jurassic limestone and sandstones


Gmelin-Krauts Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie, Hg


Indysh is a river flowing into the Kuban' river, not far north of the Elbrusskij mine. Topographical maps show at least three (abandoned)  mines near the deserted hamlet also named Indysh. These mines need more investigation. So far Pyrite bearing chlorite schist and basalt were found in the area. The schist comes from a local gravel pit.


Jemorakly Tyube

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Mount Jemorakly Tyube is a ~3000m high peak in the western Bolshoi Kavkaz. The mountain is entirely composed of serpentinites. The serpentinites originate from iherzolite and saxonite rocks with little dunite. Jemorakly Tyube is part of a series of similar serpentinite intrusions spread along the Kefar Agur river. The western slope of Jemorakly Tyube is a small chromite deposit, spread over several meters. It is mentioned as Geikielite locality by Efremov, Am Min Vol 59 (1959) p395. 

Antigorite 'Chrysotile' Chromite Geikielite

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 Geikielite from Mount Jemorakly Tyube, North Caucasus, USSR, N. Efremov, Am Min Vol 59 (1959) p395-396


Kazar-Kan is a mercury deposit located 20km from Gapca and 50km from Beledzhi in Dagestan. The deposit consists of a single layer of of Jurassic sandstone, containing 'mercury ores'. I assume it would be Cinnabar.

Gmelin-Krauts Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie, Hg


Kholst is a lead zinc deposit in Severnaya Ossetia. It is located in the Sadon-Unal anticline. The Sadon-Unal anticline has a core of Paleozoic granites and edges of Jurassic effusive rocks, sandstone and shales. The hydrothermal veins are usually situated perpendicular to the fold and mainly in the granite, but they also occur in the Jurassic sediments. The deposit is formed in the late Cimmerian.

Barite Galena Pyrite Quartz Siderite Sphalerite

Geology of Ore Deposits, V.I. Smirnov, 1976, p314 - 316


Khpeka is located about 52km south of the Beledzhi railway station in Dagestan. It is a hydrothermal mercury deposit in Jurassic sandstone.

Cinnabar Kaolinite Mercury Pyrite

Gmelin-Krauts Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie, Hg



Khudes is a Variscan pyritic copper deposit, located northwest of Elbrus volcano. Khudes river runs not far east of Elbrusskiy deposit.

Pyrite (Khudes has probably similarities with Urup)

Kti Teberda

Kti Teberda is a tungsten deposit, part of the Kurgashin-Chat ore field, located in the Bolshoi Kavkaz, along the way to the Dombai ski resort (but very hard to reach). The country rock consists of precambrian metamorphic rocks (gneiss) of the Teberda-Digora anticlynorium. Within this structure occur W-E orientated faults, dykes and amphibolite bodies. The Kti Teberda deposit consist of sulphide-Scheelite mineralisation within the amphibolite bodies. 
Kti Teberda shows a very interesting rock-related zoning. The hydrothermal veins cut both the gneiss and the amphibolite. Interesting mineralisation only occurs where the veins cut the amphiloblite and not when they cut through gneiss.

Other far less known deposits in the Kurgashin-Chat orefield include: Verkhne and Nizhne Dupukh (or Dupur?), Ak, Khalega and Bolshoi Marka. All located in pretty inhospitable terrain west of Kti Teberda.

Arsenopyrite Galena Gustavite Pyrrhotine Quartz Scheelite Sphalerite


Geology of Ore Deposits, V.I. Smirnov 1976, p287


Kyshkyt river is a mercury deposit in Dagestan. The deposit consists of lower Permian quartz albite porphyr and sandstone.

Albite Barite Calcite Cinnabar Quartz

Gmelin-Krauts Handbuch der anorganischen Chemie, Hg

Lakargi Gora

Lakargi mountain is located about 10 kilometers northwest Verkhne Chegem. Mount Lakargi locality is actually the Verkhne Chegem Caldera located further west between mount Mount Lakargi itself and Mount Vorland. The caldera consists of young tertiary ignimbrite, which came into contact with jurassic limestone, forming metasomatically altered xenoliths.

Afwillite Albite Allophane Aragonite Baghdadite Bohmite Brucite Calcio-Olivine Calcite Cuspidine Ettringite Fluorellestadite Hematite Hillebrandite Hydrocalumite Hydroxylellestatite Jennite Kimzeyite Lakargiite Larnite Periclase Perowskite Plombierite Quartz Reinhardbraunsite Rondorfite Saponite Spurrite Sturmanite Thaumasite Wadalite Xonotlite Zeophyllite

Galuskin E.V. et. al. 2008 Amer. Min. 93, P1903-1910

Mushte river

The Mushte river gold deposit consists of red paleozoic granites



Malka is a secondary iron ore deposit. The area consists of Paleozoic sandstones and shales, folded by a Hercynian peridotite massif. The peridotite developed into serpentinites and weathered to a limonite iron ore deposit. There are minor amounts of chromium, manganese and nickel in the ores. The Malka deposit is situated along the Malka river in Kabardino-Balkaria. The mineralogy here is probably not interesting for collectors and only fine grained and massive. The ores are shallow so any mining would be by open pit method.

Slightly northwest of what is known as the Malka deposit serpentine rock also surfaces near Bermamyt. I assume this originates from the same peridotite massif.

Chromite Goethite Hematite Magnetite Nontronite

Serpentine rock

Geology of ore deposits, V.I. Smirnov, 1976, p370-371

"Nickel mine", Adygea

'Nikel' was a town in Agygea until 2002. It was a mining town in the Dakhovskoye Belorechensk area. In reality it was a uranium mine, but as with SDAG Wismut in Saxony, they used another chemical element as code, this time they chose nickel. See Belorechensk for more information.

See Belorechensk.

Barite Calcite Chalcopyrite Fluorite Galena Marcassite 'Psilomelane' Pyrite Sphalerite

The psilomelane above, might very well contain cobalt and be actually asbolane. It would certainly fit the paragenese better. Also I found inclusions in calcite from here that looks quite a bit like Millerite.

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  Many thanks to Sergey for specimen and information!

Skala Parus

Skala Parus (translated sail rock) is a large wall of sandstone standing in the Black sea along the coast, about 17km south of Gelendzhik. It is a Flysch rock, which in this case means a glauconite rich sandstone. The flysch of Parus rock contains occasionally calcite crystals. Skala Parus is a natural monument. Do not attack it with hammers and chisels! My specimen was just collected from the ground at the bottom of the monolith

Calcite Glauconite




Psebai is mentioned as locality in several paleontological publications as permian and triassic limestone locality. On satellite images a large quarry is visible northwest of the village. The specimen below was however found at a roadcut just south of the town.

Calcite Gypsym Marcassite



Sadon deposit

The Sadon deposit is a lead-zinc vein deposit, located in Severnaya Ossetia. Exploration started here in 1853 and the deposit is worked out by now. Geologically the Sadon deposit is located in the Sadon-Zgid anticline. Jurassic eruptives are overlain by a paleozoic granite. This granite passes into granodiorites in some occasions and they form aplites and pegmatites. The rock is cut by hydrothermal ore bearing veins.

Arsenopyrite Azurite Barite Bismuth Calcite Cerussite Chalcopyrite Galena Malachite Molybdenite Phosgenite Pyrite Pyrrhotite Quartz Siderite Smithsonite Sphalerite Tetrahedrite

Ore Deposits of the USSR, V.I. Smirnov, 1977, Vol II pp198-201


Sakhala mining started in 1970. Due to problems with underground mining, mining seized in 1990 and the site was abandoned in 1993. The mine is remotely located about 10km south of Sinegorsk in Krasnodar Kray. In some references the mine is referred to as Krasnodarskiy mine.

The Sakhala deposit is located in the northwestern Caucasus in the Bezep ore region. The surrounding rocks are lower Cretaceous sandstones, siltstones and clay with lenses of  limestone. The rocks were subjected to Alpine folding. The deposit is of the quartz-dickite-cinnabar type, to which the famous Nikitovka deposit in the Ukraine also belongs

Antimonite Arsenopyrite Calcite Chalcopyrite Cinnabar Dickite Mercury Orpiment Pyrite Quartz Realgar Siderite Sphalerite Tetrahedrite


Ore Deposits of the USSR, V.I. Smirnov, 1977, Vol II pp310-312
Assessment of Mercury Releases from the Russian Federation, March 2005, Danish Environmental Protection Agency


Arsenopyrite Gold

Skalistoye deposit

The Skalistoye deposit is located in the same complex as the Urup copper deposit. See there for a more detailed description of the geology. Skalitoye is located roughly 250 meters below the Urup deposit in the diabase horizont.


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A well known skarn deposit in Kaberdino-Balkaria Respublikum. The oldest rocks of the deposit are Upper Devonian (Famennian) marbles, sandstones and shales. They are overlain by lower carboniferous volcanogenic rocks and tuffs and by Middle and Upper Carboniferous sediments. In the early Jurassic ultramafic rocks intruded, followed by granites of the Eldzhurta intrusion. Obviously the most interesting mineralogy can be found in the skarns at the contact of the Devonian limestone and the Eldzhurta granites. There are also some younger rhyolites and basalts
A sublocality is Malo Tyrnyauz, located at the periphery of the deposit. It is here where most of antimony mineralogy occurs.

Alabandite Allanite-(Ce) Andradite Antimonite Arsenopyrite Baksanite Bismuth Bismuthinite Boulangerite Brochantite Bursaite Cannizzarite Chalcanthite Chalcopyrite Chalcostibite Cinnabar Cosalite Cuspidine Epsomite Ferrimolybdite Fluorapophyllite Fluorite Fluoroapatite Galena Galenobismuthite Giessenite Gold Gypsum Huntite Ilvaite Ingodite Joseite-A Lapieite Lillianite Magnesite Magnetite Malachite Maldonite Molybdenite Pilsenite Powellite Pyrrhotite Quartz Rorisite Scheelite Sergeevite Sphalerite Stilpnomelane Sulphotsumoite Tellurobismutite Tetradymite Titanite Tsumoite Ullmannite Zinckenite

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Geology of mineral deposits, V.I. Smirnov, 1977, p170-171

Urup copper deposit

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The modern history of the Urup copper deposit started in 1911, when Vasiliy Nikolaevich Robinson prospected the area. Robinson did find traces of ancient copper mining and rich copper reserves. At the time his reports reached the czar, the czar had other problems to deal with, with the upcomming worldwar and subsequent revolution. Later in 1935 a second prospect was conducted, confirming Robinson's finds.Serious mining started as late as 1947.

Located in Karachaevo-Cherkessk Respublikum. It is a hydrothermal copper deposit within the Laba-Malka tectonic zone. Geologically the Urup deposit consists of lower and middle Devonian metamorphic and (volcano-)sedimentary rocks, consisting of sandstone, diabase, quartz-albitophyres, rhyolite and various tuffs. There are different chalcopyrite deposits in the volcanogenic sequences. The Urup deposit is just one of them, located at the base of the tuffs. The Verkhnee-, Skalistoye and Vlasinchikha deposits are located in other layers of this volcanic sequence. In the landscape they are only separated a few kilometers from each other. The Devonian ores are partially covered by Permian and lower jurassic sediments. The germanium mineralogy is of course most interesting here.

Sergey visited this site, so with thanks to him a few words about the current status. Currently only one mine is in operation and there are several open cut mines and dumps, which are exhausted. Most copper seemed to be mined, and currently you will find more zinc mineralogy than copper mineralogy. Originally the main ore consisted of Bornite, which is now pretty hard to find. In addition to the listed minerals there are secondary copper minerals.

Acanthite Barite Betekhtinite Bornite Calcite Chalcocite Chalcopyrite Galena Germanocolusite Gold Hematite Hessite Luzonite Magnetite Mawsonite Molybdenite Pyrite Quartz Renierite Sphalerite Tennantite


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Ore Deposit of the USSR, V.I. Smirnov, 1979, Vol II, pp142-146

Vaza Khokhost massif

A greisen deposit in North Ossetia


Verkhnee deposit

BE AWARE that there is a much better known 'Verkhnee deposit' part of  Dalnegorsk, Primore

The Verkhnee deposit is closely related to the Urup copper deposit. See there for more detailed information. The Verkhnee deposit is located in the Quartz-albitophyre tuff horizon.

Verkhne Fiagdon

Verkhne Fiagdon is a mining village in Severnaya Ossetia, about 35km southwest of Ordzhonikidze. It is a lead zinc mine of the Sadon or Alagir district. Several (closed?) mines are situated east of the village.

Vlasinchikha deposit

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The Vlasinchikha deposit is closely related of the Urup copper deposit (q.v.). More precisely it is located just below the Quartz-Alitophyre horizon. See Urup for more detailed geology. The quarry closed in 1976.

Zhelezhnyi Rog

Zhelezhnyi Rog is located on the Taman Peninsula, just east of the Crimea Peninsula. This quarry is the type locality for Anapaite, named after the nearby town of Anapa.

Anapaite Realgar Siderite Vivianite




Zgid deposit

The Zgid deposit in Severnaya Ossetia is comparable with the Sadon deposit. It consists of hydrothermal veins in Paleozoic granite. This deposit was formed in several stages. In the first stage Quartz and finely dissiminated Pyrite where deposited in fissures. In the second stage Manganosiderite, Magneite and Hematite where mainly deposited, associated with minor Calcite, Quartz and Sphalerite. The economic lead and zinc ores, Sphalerite and Galena, where formed in the third stage. 

The workings consist of at least 12 levels. The upper levels are adits, dug in the side of the mountain, wile the lower levels are completely underground. The lowermost level is called the Nadezhda level.

Arsenopyrite Calcite Chalcopyrite Galena Magnetite Pyrite Quartz Siderite Sphalerite Tetrahedrite

Ore Deposit of the USSR, V.I. Smirnov, 1979, Vol II, pp201-203
Geology of Mineral Deposits, V.I. Smirnov, 1976, p284-286