Tantalite

Tantalite

[tan-tl-ahyt]

Tantalite, [(Fe, Mn) Ta2O6], is a mineral that is close to columbite. In fact, the two are often grouped together as a semi-singular mineral called columbite-tantalite in many mineral guides. But Tantalite has a much greater specific gravity than Columbite (8.0+ compared to Columbite's 5.2).

Tantalite is black to brown in both color and streak. Manganese rich tantalites can be brown and translucent. Tantalite has been found in Namibia, Nigeria, Canada, Madagascar, northern Europe, and Maine, California, Colorado and Virginia in the United States. Brazil has the world's largest reserve of Tantalite (52.1%). As at 2006, 75% of world tantalite production comes from Australia.

Tantalite is used as an ore of tantalum and niobium and as mineral specimens and occur in pegmatites. Some specimens may show a bluish iridescent tarnish and have demonstrated weak magnetism.

Tantalite is largely found mixed with columbite in an ore called coltan.

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