Phosphate ores mining is conducted by open and underground methods; friable phosphorites are extracted by borehole mining. Some part of phosphate ores is sent directly into processing, but the most part is pre-enriched. Phosphate ores are represented by two main groups of natural formations; they are phosphorites and apatites.
Apatites are minerals of phosphates class. Depending on the structure there are the following main types: fluorapatite, chlorine apatite, hydroxyapatite, carbonate apatite, fluoride carbonate apatite. Fluorapatite and fluoride carbonate apatite are the most widely used and are of the most practical importance.
Industrial clusters of apatites are rather rare; only at a small amount of deposits they mine apatite ore in its pure form, at other deposits apatites are extracted together with processing of rare metal and iron ores (magnetite-apatite).
Apatite is the raw material for the production of phosphate fertilizer, phosphorus and phosphoric acid, it is used in ferrous and nonferrous metallurgy, production of ceramics and glass.
In Russia the world largest apatite deposit is on the Kola Peninsula - "Khibiny", where they mine apatite nepheline ore consisting of fluorapatite and nepheline. Large well-formed crystals of apatite are found in the Trans-Baikal region in the field "Sludyanka" (Irkutsk region).