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tellurium metallicum



Traditional name


Used parts

trit 1x


Minerals; Inorganic; Column Six


Original proving

Proved and introduced by Hering in 1850; Clarke, A Dictionary of Practical Materia Medica, Vol. III, 1385; Allen: Encyclop Mat. Med., Vol. IX. 555.

Description of the substance

Chemical properties of tellurium

Atomic number 52
Atomic mass 127.6 g.mol -1
Electronegativity according to Pauling 2.1
Density 6.24
Melting point 450 °C
Boiling point 1390 °C
Vanderwaals radius  0.137 nm
Ionic radius 0.221 nm (-2) ; 0.089 nm (+4)
Isotopes 23
Electronic shell  [ Kr ] 4d10 5s25p4
Energy of first ionisation 869.0 kJ.mol -1
Standard potential - 0.91 V ( Sb3+/ Sb)
Discovered by Franz Muller von Reichenstein in 1782

World production of tellurium, a byproduct of copper refining, was up slightly, despite a
marginal decrease in copper production, owing to its coproduct status with selenium. Selenium, which was in strong demand, experienced a surge in production from waste and anode slimes that contained coproduct tellurium. Detailed information on the world tellurium market was not available.
Tellurium supply and demand has remained in fairly close balance for the past decade. In the short term, significant increases are not anticipated in either consumption or production, although reductions in copper production may reduce tellurium supply. An increase in demand for high-purity tellurium for cadmium telluride solar cells might have a major impact on tellurium consumption. Tellurium consumption is increasing in thermal elements for small ice packs and refrigerators.
Tellurium alloyed with germanium and antimony used in digital video discs (DVD) consumes only small amounts of tellurium and will, therefore, have minimal impact on tellurium demand.

Native tellurium (Chemistry: Te, Elemental Tellurium. Class: Elements. Uses: A minor ore of tellurium and as mineral specimens) is a rare mineral. When it does occur it is often found with gold and gold tellurides such as sylvanite and calaverite.
The metal tellurium is mostly used in alloys with other metals. It is added to lead to improve its strength and durability. In steel and copper it makes the metals more workable. Tellurium is also used in blasting caps.
Color is tin white often with a muted multi-colored iridescent tarnish. Luster is metallic. Transparency: Crystals are opaque. Crystal System is trigonal; 3 2. Crystal Habits include prismatic crystals but more commonly massive as vein fillings. Cleavage is good in three directions (prismatically) and poor in a fourth (basal). Fracture is uneven. Hardness is 2 - 2.5 Specific Gravity is 6.1 - 6.3 (unusually heavy even for metallic minerals) Streak is tin white.

Calaverite (fig.2, pag.2) is an uncommon and much sought after mineral by mineral collectors and those seeking fortunes. Calaverite (Chemistry: AuTe2, Gold Telluride. Class: Sulfides. Subclass: Tellurides. Uses: A very minor ore of gold and tellurium and as mineral specimens) is one of the few minerals that is an ore of gold, besides native gold itself. It is the most common gold bearing mineral besides native gold. The element gold is typically either found as native gold (in its elemental state), as an alloy with other metals such as silver and copper and as trace amounts in a few minerals. To be an actual significant part of a non-alloyed mineral is really quite uncommon for gold and this makes calaverite a unique mineral indeed.
For some reason gold has an affinity for the element tellurium, which is sometimes found naturally as native tellurium. Tellurium is a semi-metallic element which means that it has some properties of metals but not all or as strongly. This helps provide an explanation for gold's, and other metals such as silver's, attraction to tellurium. Other gold tellurides include sylvanite, (Silver Gold Telluride); kostovite, (Copper Gold Telluride); krennerite, (Silver Gold Telluride); nagyagite, (Gold Lead Antimony Iron Telluride Sulfide) and petzite (Silver Gold Telluride). Calaverite is closely related to sylvanite and differs only in silver content and slightly in hardness, cleavage, color and density. At times the two minerals are only distinguishable with chemical tests.
Crystals of calaverite are unique and of interest to collectors. Typically found as striated prisms that can be twinned causing sharp bends, reticulated individuals and skeletal or arborescent formations. These clusters remind many collectors of writing.

 Crystals of sylvanite(Chemistry: AgAuTe4, Silver Gold Telluride. Class: Sulfides. Subclass: Tellurides. Uses: A very minor ore of silver and gold and as mineral specimens) are  typically found as prisms that can be twinned causing sharp bends, reticulated individuals and skeletal or arborescent formations. These clusters remind many collectors of writing. (fig1, pag3)