Ilmenite - Encyclopedia

    Class : Oxides and hydroxides
    Subclass : Oxides
    Crystal system : Trigonal
    Chemistry : FeTiO3
    Rarity : Very common

Ilmenite is a common accessory mineral in basic magmatic rocks (gabbros, diorites and especially anorthosites, where it can concentrate by magmatic segregation to form large exploited masses), in certain metamorphic rocks (gneiss and granulites), in nepheline syenites, more rarely in hydrothermal veins and pegmatites. Unalterable under atmospheric conditions, ilmenite is very widespread in alluvium where it is commonly exploited. Ilmenite constitutes two series, one complete towards the magnesium pole, geikielite, the other partial towards the manganiferous pole, pyrophanite. The presence of vanadium is common. Its name comes from its type locality : the Ilmen Mountains (Russia). Ilmenite occurs in thick tablets with rhombohedral facies, sometimes lamellar micaceous, in shapeless inclusions, rarely in compact granular masses or in aggregates. The luster is strong, the color iron black to grayish black with gray-black dust ; it is weakly magnetic (those attractable by the hand magnet contain exsolutions of magnetite). Imenite is the main ore of titanium, less rich in this metal than rutile, but constituting significantly more frequent and larger accumulations.

Main photo : Ilmenite from Rønholt, Bamble, Norway © Oivind Thoresen

Ilmenite from Marchenko Peak, Khibiny, Russia © Uwe Haubenreisser
Ilmenite from Poudrette Quarry, Mont St-Hilaire, Canada © Stephan Wolfsried
Ilmenite from La Pianazza, Varsi, Parma, Italy © Gianfranco Ciccolini
Ilmenite from Plan du Lac, Isère, France © Matteo Chinellato

Ilmenite in the World

Beautiful ilmenite crystals are not uncommon. The best known, crystals 15 cm in diameter and weighing more than 8 kg, come from the pegmatitoid veins of Kragerö, Rønholt and Amdal (Norway). The Ilmen Mountains, in the south of the Ural range, yielded superb crystals with brilliant faces of 10 cm, and Lake Ilmen, near Novgorod in Russia, superb crystals of 20 cm. Large, sometimes remarkable crystals have been extracted from the pegmatites of Madagascar as well as from the titanium deposits of Canada (Bancroft). The Swiss Alpine clefts contain very aesthetic lamellar crystals grouped in rosettes up to 4 cm in diameter.

Ilmenite in France

In France, ilmenite is found in Alpine clefts such as Plan du Lac (Isère) but also in certain lavas such as Mont-Dore (Puy-de-Dôme) as well as in the alluvium that results from it.


Twins are known on {0001} and {101-1}.

Fakes and treatments

No fakes recorded for this mineral species. Difficult to separate from hematite without chemical analysis or indication of the presence of titanium (rutile or titanite epitaxies for example).

Hardness : 5 to 6
Density : 4.68 to 4.76
Fracture : Conchoidal
Streak : Black to reddish brown

TP : Opaque
RI : -
Birefringence : -
Optical character : -
Pleochroism : None
Fluorescence : None

Solubility : Hydrochloric acid

Magnetism : ParamagneticRadioactivity : None to very low


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