The Mineral ilmenite
Ilmenite is one of the most significant ores of the metal titanium. It is mined as an important industrial mineral in several deposits throughout the world. Many of those deposits are in heavy placer sands. Ilmenite is very similar in structure to Hematite, and is essentially the same as Hematite with roughly half the iron replaced with titanium. Ilmenite is named after the locality of the Ilmen Mountains, which are a part of the Southern Urals of Russia.
Black, dark grayish-black, brownish-black, dark reddish-brown, brownish-gray
Iron-rich variety of Ilmenite named after Washington, Litchfield Co., Connecticut.
Ilmenite is the most important ore of the element titanium. It has recently surpassed Rutile as the main ore mineral of that metal. Ilmenite was once used as a minor ore of iron prior to the discovery of titanium as an industrially important metal.
Ilmenite is quarried in many economically important deposits in various locations worldwide. However, much of these mines fail to produce specimens because of the scale of the operations, or due to poor specimen quality. Only important localities which have produced specimens for the collector are mentioned here.
The type locality of Ilmenite, famous for having produced single thick crystals, is Miass, in the Ilmen Mts, Southern Urals, Russia. Large, well-formed crystals are well-known from Åmdal, Froland, Aust-Agder, Norway; and brownish-gray crystals from Kragerø, Telemark, Norway. Beautiful rosettes similar to Hematite Iron Roses occur in the Tormiq valley, Haramosh Mts., Skardu District, Pakistan; and highly lustrous crystal plates are found on Zagi Mountain, near Peshawar, Pakistan.
In Canada, good Ilmenite crystals have come from Bancroft, Faraday Twp, Hastings Co., Ontario; and some of the largest crystals were found in Girardville, near Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec. In the U.S., crystals were once found in Chester, Hampden Co., Massachusetts; and a manganese-rich form from Washington, Litchfield Co., Connecticut. A massive Ilmenite came from the McIntyre Mine, Newcomb, Essex Co., New York.
Distingushing Similar Minerals
Hematite - Redder streak.
Magnetite - Strongly attracted to magnetic fields.
Rutile - Lacks magnetism, usually more reddish on edges, and may be slightly translucent on edges.
Columbite - Higher specific gravity, lacks any magnetism.