Home Minerals Lepidolite


Lepidolite is Earth’s most common lithium-bearing mineral. Although typically pale lilac, specimens can also be colorless, violet, pale yellow, or gray. Lepidolite crystals may appear pseudohexagonal. The mineral is also found as botryoidal or kidneylike masses and fine- to coarse-grained, interlocking plates. Its perfect cleavage yields thin, flexible sheets. Lepidolite occurs in granitic pegmatites, where it is associated with other lithium minerals, such as beryl and topaz. The mineral is economically important as a major source of lithium, which is used to make glass and enamels. It is also a major source of the rare alkali metals rubidium and cesium.

Name: From the Greek lepidos for scale, in allusion to its micaceous structure.

Polymorphism & Series: 1M, 2M2 ; 3A polytypes common; 2M1 ; 3M2 rare; a group name.

Mineral Group: Mica group.

Crystallography: Monoclinic; prismatic. Crystals usually in small plates or prisms with hexagonal outline. Commonly in coarse- to finegrained scaly aggregates.

Association: Spodumene, elbaite, amblygonite, columbite, cassiterite, topaz, beryl, micas

Lepidolite Composition: A fluosilicate of potassium, lithium, aluminum, K2Li3Al4Si7 0 2 i(0 H,F)3. Magnesium may be present.

Diagnostic Features: Characterized chiefly by its micaceous cleavage and usually by its lilac to pink color. Muscovite may be pink, or lepidolite white, and therefore a flame test should be made to distinguish the two.

Physical properties of Lepidolite

  • Color: Lepidolite is usually pink, purple, or lilac in color, although it can also be found in other colors such as yellow, gray, and white.
  • Crystal system: Monoclinic. Lepidolite crystals are typically platy or tabular in shape.
  • Hardness: 2.5-4 on the Mohs scale, which means it is relatively soft.
  • Luster: Vitreous to pearly.
  • Streak: White.
  • Cleavage: Perfect basal cleavage in one direction, which gives it a characteristic “books” or “pages” like appearance when broken.

Chemical properties of Lepidolite

  • Composition: Lepidolite is a complex lithium aluminum silicate mineral with the chemical formula K(Li,Al,Rb)3(Al,Si)4O10(F,OH)2. It contains lithium (Li), aluminum (Al), rubidium (Rb), silicon (Si), oxygen (O), fluorine (F), and hydrogen (H).
  • Lithium content: Lepidolite is one of the primary lithium-bearing minerals, and it can contain a significant amount of lithium, usually ranging from 3% to 8% Li2O.

Unique characteristics of Lepidolite

  • Lithium content: Lepidolite is one of the primary sources of lithium, a highly valuable and critical element used in batteries, ceramics, glass, and other high-tech applications.
  • Colorful appearance: Lepidolite is known for its attractive pink, purple, and lilac colors, which make it a popular mineral among collectors and lapidary enthusiasts.
  • Cleavage: Lepidolite has perfect basal cleavage, which makes it easy to cleave into thin, flexible sheets. This property has made lepidolite historically popular as a source of mica, which was used in electrical insulators, lampshades, and other applications.
  • Radioactive properties: Some lepidolite deposits can contain trace amounts of radioactive elements, such as uranium and thorium, which can result in interesting fluorescent and phosphorescent properties when exposed to UV light.

Geology and occurrence of Lepidolite

  • Lepidolite is typically found in granite pegmatites, which are coarse-grained igneous rocks that form in the late stages of magma crystallization. These pegmatites are known for their rich concentrations of rare and valuable minerals, including lithium-bearing minerals like lepidolite.
  • Lepidolite is found in various locations around the world, including Brazil, Madagascar, the United States, Canada, Russia, and other countries. However, commercial deposits of lepidolite are relatively rare, and the majority of lepidolite is obtained as a byproduct of other mining operations.

Uses of Lepidolite

  • Lithium production: Lepidolite is an important source of lithium, which is used in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, energy storage systems, and portable electronics.
  • Gemstone: Lepidolite is sometimes used as a gemstone due to its attractive colors and unique appearance. It is typically cut into cabochons or used for beads, pendants, and other jewelry items.
  • Mica substitute: Historically, lepidolite has

Physical Properties of Lepidolite

Color Pink, purple, rose-red, violet-gray, yellowish, white, colorless
Streak White
Luster Sub-Vitreous, Resinous, Greasy, Pearly
Cleavage Perfect {001} perfect
Diaphaneity Transparent, Translucent
Mohs Hardness 2.5 – 4 on Mohs scale
Diagnostic Properties Cleavage
Crystal System Monoclinic
Tenacity Elastic
Fracture Micaceous
Density 2.8 – 2.9 g/cm3 (Measured)    2.83 g/cm3 (Calculated

Optical Properties of Lepidolite

Color / Pleochroism Colorless
Optical Extinction 3-10o
2V: 0° – 58°
Twinning Rare, composition plane f001g, twin axis [310].
Optic Sign Biaxial ({)
Dispersion: r > v; weak.

Lepidolite deposits

Lepidolite is typically found in pegmatite deposits, which are intrusive rocks that form in the final stages of the crystallization of magma. Pegmatites are known for their unique mineral assemblages and often contain rare and valuable minerals, including lepidolite. Lepidolite deposits can vary in size, quality, and economic viability. Here are some key aspects of lepidolite deposits:

  1. Geological formation: Lepidolite typically forms in pegmatites, which are coarse-grained igneous rocks with large crystals. Pegmatites form when the remaining liquid portion of a magma becomes enriched in rare elements and volatile components, leading to the crystallization of large, well-formed minerals, including lepidolite.
  2. Mineral association: Lepidolite is commonly associated with other lithium-bearing minerals such as spodumene, amblygonite, and petalite, as well as other pegmatite minerals like quartz, feldspar, and mica. The presence of these minerals can provide clues to the potential occurrence of lepidolite in a pegmatite deposit.
  3. Occurrence: Lepidolite deposits are found in various geological settings, including granitic or rare-metal pegmatites, greisens, and hydrothermal veins. These deposits may occur in different rock types, such as granite, gneiss, mica schist, and quartzite, depending on the local geology and tectonic history.
  4. Distribution: Lepidolite deposits are found in various countries around the world, including Brazil, Madagascar, United States, Canada, Russia, and others, as mentioned in the previous response. However, commercial deposits of lepidolite are relatively rare, and production is often limited to specific mines or regions.
  5. Mining and extraction: Lepidolite is typically extracted through traditional mining methods, including open-pit or underground mining, depending on the deposit’s depth and size. Once extracted, lepidolite may undergo beneficiation processes, such as crushing, grinding, and froth flotation, to concentrate and refine the lithium-bearing minerals.
  6. Environmental considerations: Lepidolite mining and processing may have environmental impacts, such as habitat disruption, soil erosion, and water pollution. Proper environmental management practices, including mine reclamation, waste disposal, and water treatment, are important considerations in lepidolite mining operations to minimize their environmental footprint.

It’s important to note that the geology, occurrence, and extraction methods of lepidolite may vary depending on the specific deposit and location. Detailed geological and technical studies are typically conducted to assess the economic viability and environmental impact of lepidolite deposits before commercial extraction takes place.


Lepidolite is found in various locations around the world, although commercial deposits are relatively rare. Some of the major regions where lepidolite is known to occur include:

  1. Brazil: Lepidolite deposits are found in several states in Brazil, including Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Norte, and Paraíba. Brazilian lepidolite is known for its beautiful pink and lilac colors and is often used as a gemstone or lapidary material.
  2. Madagascar: Madagascar is known for its rich pegmatite deposits, which often contain lepidolite. The Ambatofinandrahana and Antsirabe regions in Madagascar are known for their lepidolite deposits.
  3. United States: Lepidolite can be found in several states in the United States, including California, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and South Dakota. Some of the famous pegmatite mines in the U.S., such as the Pala District in California and the Black Hills in South Dakota, have produced notable specimens of lepidolite.
  4. Canada: Lepidolite has been found in pegmatites in various provinces of Canada, including Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec. However, commercial deposits are relatively limited.
  5. Russia: Lepidolite deposits have been reported in some regions of Russia, including the Murmansk Oblast in the Kola Peninsula and the Transbaikal region in Eastern Siberia.
  6. Other countries: Lepidolite has also been found in smaller quantities in other countries, including Argentina, China, Czech Republic, Germany, Zimbabwe, and Namibia.

It’s worth noting that lepidolite deposits can vary significantly in size, quality, and economic viability. Commercial exploitation of lepidolite deposits may depend on factors such as lithium demand, market prices, geological and economic considerations, and environmental regulations.


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  • Dana, J. D. (1864). Manual of Mineralogy… Wiley.
  • Handbookofmineralogy.org. (2019). Handbook of Mineralogy. [online] Available at: http://www.handbookofmineralogy.org [Accessed 4 Mar. 2019].
  • Mindat.org. (2019). Lepidolite: Mineral information, data and localities.. [online] Available at: https://www.mindat.org/ [Accessed. 2019].
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