Composition: ZnAs3+2O4
Crystal System : Monoclinic
Colours: Colourless, white, cream, brown
Lustre : Pearly
Hardness (H) : 1.5-2.0
Specific Gravity (S.G) : 4.31
Year of Discovery: 1976
IMA Number: 1976-026
IMA Status: Approved
Discovered By: Luis Leite (Portugese / South African dealer)
Named for: Discoverer
References: Cesbron et al. (1977)

Tsumeb is the Type Locality


Rare. Second and third oxidation zones.


  • Supergene
  • 2nd Oxidation Zone
  • 3rd Oxidation Zone

Notable Finds

The type specimen is from the second oxidation zone, on 29 Level, where cleavable masses of leiteite were associated with schneiderhöhnite and smithsonite on chalcocite / tennantite ore. Further discoveries on 29 and 30 levels were associated with reinerite; stottite; zincroselite; tsumcorite; stranskiite and legrandite. The "Zinc Pocket" (on 44 Level) yielded terminated leiteite crystals, with legrandite, reinerite, and several new associates including ianbruceite and köttigite. A number of other leiteite finds were made between 44 and 45 levels.

Paragenetic and General Notes

Leiteite is a zinc arsenite that forms under conditions of relatively low oxidation potential. It was considered a very rare mineral until the 1992 discovery of the "Zinc Pocket" on 44 Level. As mining progressed between 44 and 45 Levels leiteite became quite abundant, setting new standards for the species in terms of size (to 17cm) and terminated crystals. As cleavable masses, colourless, to pearly white, ivory, or pale brown. Transparent to translucent. The cleavage lamellae are flexible but inelastic, and have a pearly lustre.

The mineralogy of leiteite from Tsumeb has been reviewed by Cairncross (2017).