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Malachite is a carbonate mineral normally known as "copper carbonate" with the formula CuCO3.Cu2. This green-colored mineral crystallizes in the monoclinic crystal system, and most often forms botryoidal, fibrous, or stalagmitic masses. Individual crystals are rare but do occur as slender to acicular prisms. Pseudomorphs after more tabular or blocky azurite crystals also occur.

Etymology and history

The stone's name derives (via Latin and French) from Greek molochitis, "mallow-green stone", from molochē, variant of malachē, "mallow". 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. The natural form was being replaced by its synthetic form, verditer amongst other synthetic greens. It is also used for decorative purposes, such as in the Malachite Room in the Hermitagemarker, which features a large malachite vase . "The Tazza", 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 Librarymarker.

Occurrence and historical uses

Malachite often results from 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 together. 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 Uralsmarker. It is found in the Democratic Republic of Congomarker; Zambiamarker; Tsumebmarker; Namibiamarker; Russiamarker; Mexicomarker; Broken Hill, New South Walesmarker; Englandmarker; Lyonmarker; and in the Southwestern United Statesmarker especially in Arkansasmarker and Arizonamarker. In Israelmarker, malachite is extensively mined at Timna valleymarker, often called King Solomon's Mines, although research has revealed an interruption in mining activity at the site during the 10th century, the time of Solomon. Archeological evidence indicates that the mineral has been mined and smelted at the site for over 3,000 years. Most of Timna's current production is also smelted, but the finest pieces are worked into silver jewelry.

In Greek mythology, the throne of Demeter, goddess of grain and harvest, was fashioned from malachite and adorned with golden pigs and ears of barley.

Gallery

Image:MoreMalachite.jpg|Malachite from the Democratic Republic of CongomarkerImage:Malachite Zaire.jpg|A polished slice of malachiteImage:Malaquita2.jpg|MalachiteImage:Azurite with malachite and others.jpg|Malachite crystals atop blue azurite, with brown cuprite on the white kaoliniteImage:Malachite-unit-cell-3D-balls.png|Ball-and-stick model of malachite's unit cellImage:Polished-Malachite2.jpg|Polished malachiteImage:Ermitáž.jpg|Monster Neoclassical vase in malachite in the Hermitage Palace, Saint Petersburgmarker

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