Israeli mining company unearths rare mineral

Israeli firm Shefa Yamim's trademarked Carmel Sapphire Image copyright Shefa Yamim
Image caption The mineral's rarity will make gemstones pricey

A mineral - previously only known to exist in outer space - has been found on Earth by an Israeli mining company, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports

Carmeltazite was added to the official list of known minerals this week after being approved by the International Mineralogical Association (IMA).

Taub Avi, CEO of the precious stone exploration company Shefa Yamim, said it was discovered by the company in volcanic rock in northern Israel's Sevulun Valley.

The mineral was founded embedded in sapphire, the second hardest mineral after diamonds. The largest stone found so far is 33.3 carats.

It was named carmeltazite due to its discovery near Mount Carmel and the minerals it contains - titanium, aluminium and zirconium.  

Rare mineral

For a new mineral to be declared as such, its composition and crystal structure and properties must be substantially different from those of any existing mineral species, according to the IMA's Commission on New Minerals and Mineral Names.

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Although the commission approves many new minerals a year, carmeltazite's approval has made the news in mainstream Israeli media and international publications due to its rarity.

The website said the discovery would make the mining company's gemstones "more valuable than they've ever been".

The company has already received a trademark from the Israeli government to market the stones as the Carmel Sapphire.

Haaretz newspaper said one could expect to "pay through the nose" for the new mineral should it ever enter the jewellery market.

"We are already working on the design," Mr Avi said.  

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