Cassiterite – a Tin and Tantalum Source


  • The name derives from the Greek kassiteros for tin
  • Cassiterite has been the chief tin ore throughout ancient history and remains the most important source of tin today
  • As often some of the tin atoms are substituted with iron, titanium, zirconium or tantalum, cassiterite, or to be precise, the smelting slag of SnO2, is in particular, also a source for tantalum
  • Belongs to the Rutile mineral group
  • Formula: SnO2
  • Space group: P42/mnm (No. 136)
  • Crystal system: tetragonal
  • Crystal class: 4/mmm
  • Lattice parameters: a = b = 4.7382(4) Å, c = 3.1871(1), αβγ = 90°

Picture: CarlesMillan – CC BY-SA 3.0

Crystal structure (click on the picture to download the VESTA file):

(K. Momma and F. Izumi, “VESTA 3 for three-dimensional visualization of crystal, volumetric and morphology data,” J. Appl. Crystallogr., 44, 1272-1276 (2011).)

  • SnO6 octahedra (slightly distorted) (purple)
  • Oxygen (red)

For a 3D interactive version, see also here:


Structural Studies of Rutile-Type Metal Dioxides
A. A. Bolzan, C. Fong, B. J. Kennedy and C. J. Howard
Acta Cryst. B 1997, 53, 373-380



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