hematite [key], mineral, an oxide of iron, Fe2O3, containing about 70% metal, occurring in nature in red to reddish-brown earthy masses and in steel-gray to black crystalline forms. Hematite that has a metallic luster is called specular hematite, or specular iron. The red powdered hematite is used as a pigment (ocher) and as rouge in polishing. Hematite is the most important ore of iron. Extensive and richly productive deposits occur in the Lake Superior region (Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin) and the Birmingham district (Alabama). The mineral is widely distributed throughout the world and is responsible for the red coloration of many sedimentary rocks. See limonite.
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