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Mineral resource of the month: tin

November 1, 2011

Tin was one of the earliest-known metals. Because of its hardening effect on copper, tin was used in bronze implements as early as 3500 B.C. Bronze, a copper-tin alloy that can be sharpened and is hard enough to retain a cutting edge, was used during the Bronze Age in construction tools as well as weapons for hunting and war. The geographical separation between tin-producing and tin-consuming nations greatly influenced the patterns of early trade routes. Historians think that as early as 1500 B.C., Phoenicians traveled by sea to the Cornwall district of England to obtain tin. The pure metal was not used unalloyed until about 600 B.C.