The ore generally occurs in the form of oxides, manganite and pyrolusite, and contains a high percentage of sesquioxide of manganese.
Considerable quantities of the following minerals have been found: barytes (heavy spar), magnetite (magnetic iron ore), and pyrolusite (manganese dioxide) in Humboldt county; roofing slate in Esmeralda county; cinnabar (ore containing quicksilver) in Washoe county; haematite in Elko and Churchill counties; cerussite and galena (lead ores) in Eureka county; and wolframite (a source of tungsten) at Round Mountain, White Pine county.
Chlorine, generally prepared by the interaction of pyrolusite, salt and sulphuric acid, is led from a suitable generator beneath the false bottom, and rises through the moistened ore, which rests on a bed of broken quartz; the gold is thus converted into a soluble chloride, which is afterwards removed by washing with water.
Its dioxide (pyrolusite) has been known from very early times, and was at first mistaken for a magnetic oxide of iron.
Wahl [German patent 70773 (1893)] prepare a 97% manganese from pyrolusite by heating it with 30% sulphuric acid, the product being then converted into manganous oxide by heating in a current of reducing gas at a dull red heat, cooled in a reducing atmosphere, and finally reduced by heating with granulated aluminium in a magnesia crucible with lime and fluorspar as a flux.
Manganous Sulphate, MnSO 4, is prepared by strongly heating a paste of pyrolusite and concentrated sulphuric acid until acid fumes cease to be evolved.
The valuation of pyrolusite is generally carried out by means of a distillation with hydrochloric acid, the liberated chlorine passing through a solution of potassium iodide, and the amount of iodine liberated being ascertained by means of a standard solution of sodium thiosulphate.
Scheele, in examining a specimen of pyrolusite, found a new substance to be present in the mineral, for on treatment with sulphuric acid it gave an insoluble salt which was afterwards shown to be identical with that contained in heavy spar.
The periodic process depends on the interaction between manganese dioxide (pyrolusite), sulphuric acid, and a bromide, and the operation is carried out in sandstone stills heated to 60° C., the product being condensed as in the continuous process.
The substitution of potassium chlorate for pyrolusite is recommended when calcium chloride is present in the bittern.