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Mineral Properties and Uses

What is Cassiterite?

Cassiterite is a tin oxide mineral that is found in vein deposits, granitic rocks, pegmatites, areas of contact metamorphism and the altered zone of ore deposits. It is also found in placer deposits where it is most commonly mined and given the name of "stream tin". It is the most widely mined ore of tin.

Uses of Cassiterite

Cassiterite is the principle ore of tin. In the past, much of the tin was used to produce "tin cans" (actually steel plated with tin) for food containers. However, this use is being rapidly replaced by containers made of glass, plastic, paper, aluminum and other materials. Small amounts are also used to produce solder and polishing compounds.

Physical Properties of Cassiterite

Chemical Classification oxide
Color brown, black, reddish brown, brownish black
Streak colorless
Luster adamantine, splendent to submetallic
Diaphaneity opaque to translucent
Cleavage imperfect
Mohs Hardness 6 to 7
Specific Gravity 6.8 to 7.1
Diagnostic Properties high specific gravity, luster, streak, fibrous appearance
Chemical Composition tin oxide, SnO2
Crystal System tetragonal
Uses an ore of tin

Cassiterite from near Keystone, South Dakota. Specimen is approximately 4 inches (10 centimeters) across.

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Cassiterite sand
Cassiterite sand from Plateau State, Nigeria, Africa. Placer-mined tin is often called "stream tin". Silt- to sand-size particles of cassiterite.

Cassiterite particles
Particles of cassiterite from a placer deposit near Tinton, South Dakota. Specimens are approximately 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch (.3 centimeter to .95 centimeter) across.

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