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Manganese is a silver metallic element with an atomic number of 25. It is found mainly in the Earth’s crust, and it is a part of many different minerals. The most important use of manganese is in the production of steel. It removes oxygen and sulfur when iron ore is converted into steel, and it makes the resulting metal stronger and less brittle. It is also used in non-ferrous metal alloys, such as cast iron and stainless steel. In addition, it is used as a sulfur-fixing metal to reduce corrosion in coal plants and refineries.
Most of the world’s manganese ores are mined in just a few countries, which include South Africa, Australia, and Gabon. The United States does not have significant manganese ore deposits and therefore imports the majority of its manganese. Most of this manganese is produced from ferromanganese ore, which contains about 65 percent manganese and is extracted by a combination of wet and dry processes.
The remaining manganese is obtained from a few land-based deposits, including the Kalahari manganese district of South Africa. These deposits contain a wide variety of mineralized forms, such as manganite, sugilite, purpurite, rhodochrosite, and pyrolusite.
The psilomelane deposit in West Virginia is another major source of manganese. These deposits are characterized by the presence of large nodules of manganese-enriched clay that were formed in the weathering of limestone and dolomite. These nodules are spherical, and they can contain up to 80 percent manganese.