from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A black, red-brown, or colorless mineral, essentially (Fe, Mn)(Nb, Ta)2O6, the principal ore of niobium.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A black mineral that is a mixed iron and manganese niobate and tantalate, and is the main ore of niobium and tantalum.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mineral of a black color, submetallic luster, and high specific specific gravity. It is a niobate (or columbate) of iron and manganese, containing tantalate of iron; -- first found in New England.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The native niobate (columbate) of iron, a mineral of black color and high specific gravity, crystallizing in the orthorhombic system.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a black mineral that is an ore of niobium and tantalum


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

columb(ium) + -ite1.


  • There's a crucial element in the manufacture of cell phones, laptops and the like called columbite-tantalite (or coltan).

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  • Tantalum is recovered from ore minerals such as columbite and tantalite.


  • On Boing Boing Gadgets, this wrenching video in which Eve Ensler explains that Congolese militias use rape to enforce discipline among a slave workforce that mines columbite-tantalite ore, a common raw material for many devices.

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  • Among these riches is coltan - columbite tantalite - a mineral highly prized for its use in a number of consumer electronic products, among other things.

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  • Dogo Nahawa sits amid rolling hills, surrounded by former tin and columbite mines.

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  • Overall, Congo has over half the world's cobalt, one-third of its diamonds, and three-fourths of its vital columbite-tantalite or "coltan," essential for computer chips, circuit boards, mobile phones, laptops, and other electronic devices.

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  • Africa provides columbite-tantalite, the mineral from which most computer chips are made.

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  • Solid minerals like coal, tin and columbite were mined in economic quantities and Nigeria was known to be a major world player in the production of these minerals.

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  • There are deposits of gold, cassiterite (a tin ore) and coltan (columbite-tantalite) ore of a high grade which in 2000 fetched very high prices as a metal used in computer and mobile phone microchips.

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  • Rhenium does not form minerals of its own, but it does occur as a trace element in columbite, tantalite and molybdenite.



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