Formula: Cu2O
Specific gravity: 6.15
Hardness: 3½ to 4
Streak: Brownish red
Colour: Red
Solubility: Moderately soluble in hydrochloric acid; slightly soluble in sulphuric and nitric acid

Hydrothermal environments

Cuprite is a secondary mineral found in the oxidation portions of high temperature copper deposits, associated with limonite and secondary copper minerals such as native copper, malachite, azurite and chrysocolla.
It may be found as an oxidation product coating native copper, or as an alteration product of chalcopyrite.

At the Mashamba West Mine, Democratic Republic of Congo, cuprite is pseudomorphed by shattuckite (R&M 87.4.304-336).

At Tsumeb, Namibia, cuprite occurs in dolomite ore, and pseudomorphs of malachite after cuprite have been recorded (R&M 93.6.542).

At the Bardon Hill quarry, Coalville, Leicestershire, England, UK, cuprite occurs with native copper altering to chrysocolla and malachite (RES p193).

At New Cliffe Hill quarry, Stanton under Bardon, Leicestershire, England, UK, cuprite occurs with native copper and malachite (RES p197).

At the Cotopaxi Mine, Colorado, USA, cuprite crystals are found rimmed with green malachite. (R&M 84.6.547).

At the Chino mine, New Mexico, USA, cuprite occurs overgrown with goethite. (R&M 84.6.492-500).


chalcocite, oxygen and water to cuprite and sulphuric acid 2S(s) + 2O2(g) + H2O(l) → Cu2O(s) + H2SO4(aq)
If acidic copper sulphate solutions pass through the oxidation zone to below the water table, conditions usually change to reducing and the dissolved copper ions react with sulphide ions to form copper sulphides such as chalcocite. If the water table falls, allowing the chalcocite to be exposed to the oxidation zone, then cuprite may be formed according to the above equation (JRS 18.14).

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