Definition of coltan in US English:



  • A dull metallic mineral composed of columbite and tantalite, and refined to produce tantalum.

    • ‘Congo is one of the world's greatest sources of the mineral coltan.’
    • ‘But cell phones also include coltan, a mineral extracted in the deep forests of Congo in central Africa, home to the world's endangered lowland gorillas.’
    • ‘Thousands of Grauer's mountain gorillas, chimpanzees and elephants have been slaughtered for food by illegal miners searching for coltan, a mineral containing metals like tantalum and niobium, used in cellphones and computers.’
    • ‘With the cell phone industry booming, the park's resources and wildlife are under massive strain from miners seeking colombo-tantalite, also known as coltan or tantalum.’
    • ‘As well as gold and diamonds, the region is a source of the rare mineral coltan used in mobile phones.’


1990s: from columbite + tantalite.