Chromite is a type of iron chromium oxide: FeCr2O4. It is an oxide mineral which belongs to the spinel group. Magnesium can be used as a substitute for iron in variable amounts as it forms a solid solution with magnesiochromite (MgCr2O4); substitution of aluminium occurs leading to hercynite (FeAl2O4).
For the production of metallic chromium which is used as an alloying ingredient in stainless and tool steels, chromite is by far the most industrially important mineral.
Chromite is found from the Earth's mantle as orthocumulate lenses of chromitite in peridotite. It can also be found in layered ultramafic intrusive rocks. In addition, it is also found in serpentinites a type of metamorphic rock. As early magmatic differentiates ore deposits of chromite form. It is commonly associated with magnetite, olivine, corundum, and serpentine. The vast Bushveld igneous complex of South Africa is a large layered mafic to ultramafic igneous body with some layers consisting of 90% chromite making the rare rock type, chromitite. Significant deposits of High quality chromite chromite is also found at the Stillwater igneous complex in Montana.
The only ores of chromium are the minerals magnesiochromite and chromite. Most of the time, economic geology refers chromite to the whole chromite-magnesiochromite series: FeCr2O4, (Fe,Mg)Cr2O4, (Mg,Fe)Cr2O4 and MgCr2O4. Ferrochromium and metallic chromium are the two main products of chromite refining; the ore smelter process differs considerably for those products. Chromite is also used as a refractory material, because it has a high heat stability.
Chromium is extracted from chromite and has many industrial uses such as use in chrome plating and producing alloys for production of corrosion resistant superalloys, nichrome, and stainless steel. Chromium also has uses as pigment for glass, glazes, and paint, and as an oxidizing agent for tanning leather. It is also sometimes used as a gemstone.
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