Lightly iridescent bornite crystal on quartz needles, from Kazakhstan
Specimen size: 3.6 cm × 2.2 cm × 1.2 cm (1.42 in × 0.87 in × 0.47 in)
CategorySulfide mineral
(repeating unit)
IMA symbolBn[1]
Strunz classification2.BA.10
Crystal systemOrthorhombic
Crystal classDipyramidal (mmm)
H-M symbol: (2/m 2/m 2/m)
Space groupPbca
Unit cella = 10.95 Å, b = 21.862 Å,
c = 10.95 Å; Z = 16
Formula mass501.88 g/mol
ColorCopper red, bronze brown, purple
Crystal habitGranular, massive, disseminated – Crystals pseudocubic, dodecahedral, octahedral
TwinningPenetration twins on [111]
CleavagePoor on [111]
FractureUneven to subconchoidal
Mohs scale hardness3–3.25
LusterMetallic if fresh, iridescent tarnish
StreakGrayish black
Specific gravity5.06–5.08
Refractive indexOpaque
PleochroismWeak but noticeable
Other characteristicsMagnetic after heating, iridescent

Bornite, also known as peacock ore, is a sulfide mineral with chemical composition Cu5FeS4 that crystallizes in the orthorhombic system (pseudo-cubic).


Tarnish of bornite

Bornite has a brown to copper-red color on fresh surfaces that tarnishes to various iridescent shades of blue to purple in places. Its striking iridescence gives it the nickname peacock copper or peacock ore.


Bornite is an important copper ore mineral and occurs widely in porphyry copper deposits along with the more common chalcopyrite. Chalcopyrite and bornite are both typically replaced by chalcocite and covellite in the supergene enrichment zone of copper deposits. Bornite is also found as disseminations in mafic igneous rocks, in contact metamorphic skarn deposits, in pegmatites and in sedimentary cupriferous shales.[3] It is important as an ore for its copper content of about 63 percent by mass.[2]


Microscopic picture of Bornite

At temperatures above 228 °C (442 °F), the structure is isometric with a unit cell that is about 5.50 Å on an edge. This structure is based on cubic close-packed sulfur atoms, with copper and iron atoms randomly distributed into six of the eight tetrahedral sites located in the octants of the cube. With cooling, the Fe and Cu become ordered, so that 5.5 Å subcells in which all eight tetrahedral sites are filled alternate with subcells in which only four of the tetrahedral sites are filled; symmetry is reduced to orthorhombic.[5]


Substantial variation in the relative amounts of copper and iron is possible and solid solution extends towards chalcopyrite (CuFeS2) and digenite (Cu9S5). Exsolution of blebs and lamellae of chalcopyrite, digenite, and chalcocite is common.[5]

Form and twinning

Rare crystals are approximately cubic, dodecahedral, or octahedral. Usually massive. Penetration twinning on the crystallographic direction, {111}.[5]


Bornite with silver from Zacatecas, Mexico (size: 7.5 × 4.3 × 3.4 cm)

It occurs globally in copper ores with notable crystal localities in Butte, Montana and at Bristol, Connecticut in the U.S. It is also collected from the Carn Brea mine, Illogan, and elsewhere in Cornwall, England. Large crystals are found from the Frossnitz Alps, eastern Tirol, Austria; the Mangula mine, Lomagundi district, Zimbabwe; from the N'ouva mine, Talate, Morocco, the West Coast of Tasmania and in Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.[3] There are also traces of it found amongst the hematite in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

History and etymology

It was first described in 1725 for an occurrence in the Ore Mountains, Bohemia, in what is now the Karlovy Vary Region of the Czech Republic. It was named in 1845 for Austrian mineralogist Ignaz von Born.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Warr, L.N. (2021). "IMA–CNMNC approved mineral symbols". Mineralogical Magazine. 85 (3): 291–320. Bibcode:2021MinM...85..291W. doi:10.1180/mgm.2021.43. S2CID 235729616.
  2. ^ a b Barthelmy, David (2014). "Bornite Mineral Data". Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  3. ^ a b c Anthony, John W.; Bideaux, Richard A.; Bladh, Kenneth W.; Nichols, Monte C. (2005). "Bornite" (PDF). Handbook of Mineralogy. Mineral Data Publishing. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  4. ^ a b Bornite,, retrieved 12 August 2022
  5. ^ a b c Nesse, William D., "Sulfides and Related Minerals" in Introduction to Mineralogy, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, p 429