Zircon is the most important ore of the rare element hafnium, which is often present in considerable quantities in zircon.
Zircon often contains traces of radioactive elements in its structure, which causes it to be metamict, characterized by rounded, almost domal crystals, which are usually dull or pitchy in luster. When heated, these metamict Zircon crystals become stable, and revert to their normal crystal structure. This also changes the color and transparency of the stone.
The dark brown to black color observed in most Zircon crystals is caused from iron oxide impurities. An interesting and strange habit exhibited in only few zircons is that their color darkens and their luster dulls upon prolonged exposure to sunlight. This effect can be reversed by giving the stones a second heat-treatment.
Zircon is a very popular gemstone, and gems of all different colors are cut from Zircon. Zircon crystals are also popular among mineral collectors, especially collectors specializing in crystals.
The sands of Sankaramangalam in Kerala were found to contain several rare earths like Ilmenite, Zircon and Rutile. KMML is involved in the harvesting of these minerals from the seas, which are used as basic raw materials for a variety of industries. The Mineral Separation Unit (MS Unit) is engaged in the separation of Ilmenite, Rutile, Leucoxene, Monazite, Silliminite etc from the beach sand. The MS Unit employs Gravitational, Magnetic and High Tension Electrostatic Techniques for separation of minerals from the sand.
Minerals like Zircon, which is mined from the beach sands, is used in the development of nuclear technology.