Wolframite – Day 1 of the Mineral Advent Calendar

So it’s December the 1st and across the nation people are opening the first window of their advent calendars. But instead of chocolate, why not get a mineral every day?! Over the next 25 days I will post a new mineral related to an aspect of the holiday season for your enjoyment.

After all, what says mid-winter more than sparkles!

Sparkling christmas lights

Everyone likes sparkly lights in winter, but they wouldn’t work without tungsten – and for that you need Wolframite.

To kick us off, I’m looking at the first thing that most of us notice about the season – sparkling lights! It wouldn’t be winter without strings of glittering lights everywhere, but those lights wouldn’t function without tungsten, a metal found in the mineral Wolframite.

A photo of a specimen of Wolframite form Drakelands Mine in Devon, taken by Paul De Bondt from the MinDat website: http://www.mindat.org/photo-471032.html

A photo of a specimen of Wolframite form Drakelands Mine in Devon, taken by Paul De Bondt from the MinDat website.


  • Chemical formula: (Fe2+)WO4 to (Mn2+)WO4
  • Colour: Greyish-black
  • System: Monoclinic
  • Hardness (Mohs): 4 – 4 1/2
  • Can you find it in the UK? YES
locations of wolframite from mindat website

Locations registered for Wolframite in the UK, from the MinDat website. Does not yet include new mine site just outside of Plymouth – Drakelands Mine.

Wolframite is one of the UK’s currently mined minerals, thanks to a new mining development that has recently started production just outside Plymouth in Devon. Tungsten is considered so valuable because of it’s resilience to high temperatures, which makes it ideal for use in many new technologies – including lights!

Drakelands mine visit - summer 2014 - Hazel Gibson

A view across the Drakelands mine site taken from a mine visit organised in sumemr in 2014 beofre the mine entered production stages.

For more information about Wolframite please visit the MinDat website.

For more information about the new Drakelands Mine please visit the Wolf Minerals website.

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