Vanadinite: Properties, Uses, Meaning

Vanadinite is a lead chlorovanadate mineral, belonging to the apatite group. It's primarily composed of lead, vanadium, oxygen, and chlorine.

Vanadinite is formed as a secondary mineral in desert lead deposits often associated with mimetite and pyromorphite. When first found, vanadinite was recognized as a lead mineral with reference to its red or brown color, which explains why the type locality mineral for vanadium was called “plombo rojo” in Mexico.

First discovered in 1801 in Mexico, vanadinite deposits have since been unearthed in South America, Europe, Africa, and North America. 

Vanadinite is in the apatite group of phosphates, and forms a chemical series with the minerals pyromorphite Pb₅(PO₄)₃Cl and mimetite Pb5(AsO4)3Cl, with both of which it may form solid solutions. Whereas most chemical series involve the substitution of metallic ions, this series substitutes its anion groups; phosphate (PO₄), arsenate (AsO4) and vanadate (VO4). 

While vanadinite is described in the literature as an uncommon mineral, Morocco has made it more common in the recent years.

Formation of Vanadinite

Vanadinite is formed in the oxidized zone of lead-bearing deposits. This means that it is formed when primary lead minerals, such as galena, are weathered and oxidized. The oxidation process releases vanadium, which then combines with lead, oxygen, and chlorine to form vanadinite.

The name "vanadinite" comes from the element vanadium, discovered later after the mineral itself.

Cluster of reddish brown tabular vanadinite from ACF mine, Mibladen, Morocco

Toxicity of Vanadinite

Vanadinite contains vanadium and lead, and might contain traces of arsenic. All of these elements are toxic. If you are handling vanadinite, it is important to wear gloves and a mask to avoid inhaling dust or fumes.

Vanadinite: Gemmy Mineral Killer vanadinite crystals from Morocco
Killer vanadinite crystals from Morocco
Photo: Phdminerals/Diego Savard

Properties of Vanadinite

Class: Phosphates, arsenates, vanadates

Composition: Vanadinite is a lead vanadate mineral with the chemical formula Pb₅(VO₄)₃Cl. It is a member of the apatite group of minerals, which also includes pyromorphite and mimetite.

Color: Vanadinite can be a variety of colors, including red, orange, brown, yellow, green, and black. The most common color is red, and the color is caused by the presence of vanadium.

Luster: Vanadinite has a vitreous to greasy luster.

Crystal system: Vanadinite crystallizes in the hexagonal crystal system.

Streak: The streak of vanadinite is white to yellowish white.

Hardness: Vanadinite has a Mohs hardness of 3 to 4.

Cleavage: Vanadinite has poor cleavage in one direction.

Crystal form: Vanadinite crystals can be prismatic, tabular, or pyramidal. They can also be massive or granular.

Density: The density of vanadinite is 6.6 to 7.2 g/cm3.

Transparency: Vanadinite can be transparent, translucent, or opaque.

Fracture: Vanadinite has a conchoidal fracture.

Specific Gravity: The specific gravity of vanadinite is 6.6 to 7.2.

Solubility: Vanadinite is soluble in hydrochloric acid and nitric acid.

Magnetism: Vanadinite is not magnetic.

Fluorescence: Vanadinite can fluoresce yellow, orange, or red under ultraviolet light.

Pleochroism: Vanadinite can exhibit pleochroism, which means that it appears to have different colors when viewed from different directions.

Refractive Index: The refractive index of vanadinite is 2.07 to 2.13.

Inclusions: Vanadinite can contain inclusions of other minerals, such as quartz, calcite, and fluorite.

Type Locality: Zimapán, Zimapán Municipality, Hidalgo, Mexico

Vanadinite: Gemmy Mineral. Hexagonal Vanadinite crystals  on goethite matrix  Mibladen, Morocco
Hexagonal Vanadinite crystals on goethite matrix from Mibladen, Morocco
Photo: Abdel Abdel

Vanadinite crystals from Taouz,
Vanadinite crystals from Taouz, Er Rachidia Province, Drâa-Tafilalet, Morocco 
Photo: Applied Metaphysics

Locations of Vanadinite

Vanadinite is found in various locations around the world, often associated with lead-zinc deposits in oxidized zones. Some notable localities where vanadinite has been discovered include:

Mibladen, Morocco:

Mibladen is one of the most famous localities for vanadinite. The mines in this region have produced large and well-crystallized specimens with vibrant red to orange-red colors.

Midelt, Morocco:

Similar to Mibladen, Midelt in Morocco is known for its vanadinite deposits. The mineral can be found in association with lead and zinc ores in this region.

Touissit, Morocco:

The Touissit mining district in Morocco has also yielded vanadinite specimens. These specimens may exhibit distinct crystal formations and vibrant colors.

Rum Jungle, Australia:

Vanadinite has been found in the Rum Jungle region in the Northern Territory of Australia. The mineral occurs in oxidized lead-zinc deposits.

San Carlos Mine, Mexico:

The San Carlos Mine in Chihuahua, Mexico, is another significant locality for vanadinite. Specimens from this location may have deep red colors and well-defined crystals.

Arizona, USA:

Vanadinite has been reported in several locations in Arizona, including the Pure Potential Mine in the Aquarius Mountains. These specimens may exhibit a range of colors, including red, orange, and brown.


Vanadinite has been found in some locations in Namibia, including the Guchab and Berg Aukas mines. Namibian vanadinite specimens are known for their deep red hues.

South Africa:

Vanadinite occurrences have been reported in parts of South Africa, including the Kuruman District. The mineral is associated with lead and zinc deposits in this region.

It's important to note that while these locations are known for vanadinite occurrences, the mineral can also be found in other regions with suitable geological conditions.

Vanadinite Crystals
Cluster of reddish brown tabular vanadinite from ACF mine, Mibladen, Morocco
Photo: Ivar Leidus
 Hexagonal Prismatic Vanadinite Crystals From Geronimo Mine, Arizona, USA.
Photo: Masha Milshina

Vanadinite Uses

Vanadinite is a mineral that contains the chemical element vanadium and is known for its distinctive bright red to orange-red hexagonal crystals. While it is not widely used for industrial purposes, vanadinite has some interesting uses and applications:

Mineral Specimen and Collection:

Vanadinite's vibrant color and unique crystal formations make it a popular mineral specimen among collectors and enthusiasts. Its hexagonal prismatic crystals are aesthetically appealing, and well-formed vanadinite specimens are often sought after for display.

Metaphysical and Spiritual Uses:

Some individuals in the metaphysical and spiritual community believe that vanadinite possesses certain energy and healing properties. It is said to be associated with grounding, vitality, and focus. People may use vanadinite specimens for meditation or as decorative items in spiritual practices.

Vanadinite Crystal Specimen from Mibladen, Morocco
Vanadinite Crystal Specimen from Mibladen, Morocco 
Photo: Exotic Crystals LLC


Research and Study:

Vanadinite, like many minerals, is studied by geologists, mineralogists, and researchers to understand its crystallography, chemical composition, and the geological conditions under which it forms. The mineral provides valuable information about the Earth's geological processes.

Source of Vanadium:

Vanadinite contains vanadium, an important metal that is used in the production of certain alloys, particularly ferrovanadium. Ferrovanadium is commonly used as an alloying agent in the production of steel and other metal alloys to enhance their strength and corrosion resistance.

It's important to note that while vanadinite has these uses, it is not a significant source of vanadium for industrial purposes. Vanadium is more commonly obtained from other minerals such as vanadium pentoxide.

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