Otavite is rare cadmium carbonate (CdCO3) mineral that is isostructural with calcite. Its crystal system is trigonal forming rhomobhedrons. Aggregates are usually fine grained and have a zonal structure with a nucleus of pure otavite and peripheral zones of Cd-calcite. The nucleus is often lemon yellow, the periphery colorless, and the overall color as white or slightly yellowish. It has also been observed to be brown-yellow, yellow-brown, reddish, reddish-white, and reddish-brown. It typically associates with calcite, cerussite, malachite, and rosasite. It has a medium hardness, is fluorescent, and can be dissolved in dilute HCl and HNO3 with vigorous evolution of CO2.

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Cadmium (Cd) atoms
A single carbonate (CO32-) anion (note the 3-fold planar coordination)
Carbonate (CO32-) anions
Single unit cell
All atoms

White and yellowish crystals are otavite. Photo from http://www.rareminerals.com


It was first discovered in the Tsumeb mine in Namibia, Africa (formally South West Africa) by the German minerologist Otto Schneider in 1906, who named it after city of Otavi near where it was found. It was the first of 52 new minerals discovered at the Tsumeb mine. It has since been found in the former USSR and in Greece. Otavite is occasionally referred to as octavite, due presumably to repeated referencing of a typographical error in the literature.

Crystallographic Data


Graf, D. L. 1961. Crystallographic tables for the rhombohedral carbonates. American Mineralogist. 46:1283-1316

Bur'yanova, Ye.Z., B.K. Kasatov, N.P. Trifonov. 1971. New data on otavite. Internat. Geology Rev. 13:7 1001-1009.

Gebhard, G. Tsumeb II. 1999. GC Publishing. Waldbrol, Germany p137.

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Original release: 25 May 2001;