Malachite is a copper carbonate hydroxide mineral, with the formula Cu2CO3(OH)2. This opaque, green banded mineral crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system, and most often forms botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses, in fractures and spaces, deep underground, where the water table and hydrothermal fluids provide the means for chemical precipitation. Individual crystals are rare but do occur as slender to acicular prisms. Pseudomorphs after more tabular or blocky azurite crystals also occur.
The stone's name derives (via Latin: molochītis, Middle French: melochite, and Middle English melochites) from Greek Μολοχίτης λίθος molochitis lithos, "mallow-green stone", from μολόχη molōchē, variant of μαλάχη malāchē, "mallow". The mineral was given this name due to its resemblance to the leaves of the mallow plant.
Malachite was extensively mined at the Great Orme mines in Britain 3,800 years ago using stone and bone tools. Archaeological evidence indicates that mining activity ended around 600 B.C.E with up to 1,760 tonnes of copper being produced from the mined Malachite.
Archaeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted to obtain copper at Timna Valley in Israel for over 3,000 years. Since then, malachite has been used as both an ornamental stone and as a gemstone.
In ancient Egypt the colour green (wadj) was associated with death and the power of resurrection as well as new life and fertility. They believed that the afterlife contained an eternal paradise which resembled their lives but with no pain or suffering, and referred to this place as the ‘Field of Malachite’.
Malachite was used as a mineral pigment in green paints from antiquity until about 1800. The pigment is moderately lightfast, very sensitive to acids, and varying in color. This natural form of green pigment has been replaced by its synthetic form, verditer, among other synthetic greens.
Malachite is also used for decorative purposes, such as in the Malachite Room in the Hermitage, which features a huge malachite vase, and the Malachite Room in Castillo de Chapultepec in Mexico City. "The Tazza", a large malachite vase, one of the largest pieces of malachite in North America and a gift from Tsar Nicholas II, stands as the focal point in the center of the room of Linda Hall Library.
Malachite often results from the weathering of copper ores, and is often found together with azurite (Cu3(CO3)2(OH)2), goethite, and calcite. Except for its vibrant green color, the properties of malachite are similar to those of azurite and aggregates of the two minerals occur frequently. Malachite is more common than azurite and is typically associated with copper deposits around limestones, the source of the carbonate.
Large quantities of malachite have been mined in the Urals, Russia. Ural malachite is not being mined at present, but G.N Vertushkova reports the possible discovery of new deposits of malachite in the Urals. It is found worldwide including in the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Gabon; Zambia; Tsumeb, Namibia; Mexico; Broken Hill, New South Wales; Lyon, France; Timna Valley, Israel; and the Southwestern United States, most notably in Arizona.
Malachite stalactites (to 9 cm height), from Kasompi Mine, Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Size: 21.6×16.0×11.9 cm.
Vase in malachite in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
Botryoidal malachite specimen
|Look up malachite in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Malachite.|