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Spodumene is a pyroxene mineral consisting of lithium aluminium inosilicate - LiAl(SiO3)2 - and is a source of lithium. It occurs as colorless to yellowish, purplish or lilac kunzite (see below), yellowish-green or emerald-green hiddenite, prismatic crystals, often of great size. Single crystals of 14.3 m in size are reported from the Black Hills of South Dakota, United States.
Crystals form in the monoclinic system and are typically heavily striated parallel to the principal axis. Crystal faces are often etched and pitted with triangular markings.
Spodumene is derived from the Greek spodumenos (σποδυμενος), meaning "burnt to ashes," owing to the opaque, ash-grey appearance of material refined for use in industry.
Spodumene occurs in lithium rich granites and pegmatites. Transparent material has long been used as a gemstone with varieties kunzite and hiddenite noted for their strong pleochroism. Source localities include Brazil, Madagascar, USA (North Carolina, California), Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Spodumene is an important source of lithium for use in ceramics, mobile phone and automotive batteries, medicine and as a fluxing agent. Lithium is extracted from spodumene by fusing in acid.
World production of lithium via spodumene is around 80,000 metric tonnes per annum, primarily from the Greenbushes pegmatite of Western Australia, and some Chinese and Chilean sources. Spodumene is becoming less important a source of lithium due to the emergence of alkaline brine lake sources in China and Argentina, which produce lithium carbonate and lithium hydroxide directly.
Kunzite is a pink to lilac colored gemstone, a variety of spodumene with the color coming from minor to trace amounts of manganese. Some (but not all) kunzite used for gemstones has been heated to enhance its color. It was named in honor of New York mineralogist and gemologist George Frederick Kunz. It has been found in Brazil, USA, Canada, CIS, Mexico, Sweden, Western Australia, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Spodumene". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|