Shungite is a mineral raw material unique not only for Karelia and Russia, but even globally. Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy Vladimir Kovalevsky has been studying this mineral for nearly forty years. He is the head of the Laboratory of Shungite Geology and Technology at the Institute of Geology, KarRC RAS.
Vladimir Kovalevsky explains what shungite is and where it can be used. No myths, just facts.
Fact # 1
Shungite is a carboniferous substance nearly 100% made up of carbon. Diamond and graphite are, by the way, also carboniferous, but crystalline, while shungite is non-crystalline.
Fact # 2
The genesis of shungite is yet unclear. Scientists have several hypotheses, such as biogenic or volcanogenic. Some are quite exotic. Scientists at KarRC RAS are rather apprehensive of them but do not dispute the fact that carbon in meteorites and carbon in shungite are identical. It’s true.
Fact # 3
Research on shungite at the Institute of Geology KarRC RAS has been going on for nearly 60 years. More generally, studies of shungite started around two centuries ago. When first discovered, it was thought to be coal. Shungite, however, does not burn.
Fact # 4
The only place in the world with shungite mining is Karelia, more precisely only Zaonezhye area. There are four deposits there. Only one is being exploited.
Fact # 5
The feedstock for various industries is not shungite but shungite-bearing rock. It contains 1 to 98 per cent carbon.
Fact # 6
Shungite-bearing rocks constitute one of the world’s largest deposits of ancient carbonaceous rocks. Their forecasted resources are over 4 billion tons of carbon equivalent.
Fact # 7
Shungite-bearing rock is used in many industries. In metal processing, for instance it substitutes coke in cast iron production; its environmental application is for treatment of industrial and domestic wastewater; in agriculture it is used as a fertilizer or a dietary supplement in fur farming. Applications are multifarious. Yet, shungite-bearing rock from different sources can have different characteristics, which means scientific research is needed before using it.
Fact # 8
Shungite can, indeed, clean water from hazardous impurities, adsorb radioactive elements or screen off electromagnetic radiation. Yet, not all shungite species are alike. One specimen would clean water while another one, on the contrary, would contaminate it. Its highly unadvisable to experiment with this rock without proper scientific expertise.
Fact # 9
In 1996, the Military Medical Academy in St. Petersburg opened a “shungite ward”. Doctors found that it has a reduced level of electromagnetic radiation, accelerates recovery from various diseases and helps cope with stress and physical exertion. Similar wards have since then appeared in several Russian cities. In Petrozavodsk, too, a shungite grotto was recently opened at the FR Engineering Centre.
Fact # 10
It would be silly to buy shungite at a gift shop seeking protection against harmful radiation. It won’t help. If radiation is a concern for you, the best advice is to use domestic appliances wisely.
Fact # 11
Shungite became shungite because its first deposit was discovered in Shunga, a village in Medvezhjegorsky District in Karelia. The name is now globally recognized.