In the alluvial deposits the associated minerals are chiefly those of great density and hardness, such as platinum, osmiridium and other metals of the platinum group, tinstone, chromic, magnetic and brown iron ores, diamond, ruby and sapphire, zircon, topaz, garnet, &c. which represent the more durable original constituents of the rocks whose distintegration has furnished the detritus.
Of minerals containing this element mention may be made of cassiterite or tinstone, Sn02, tin pyrites, Cu 4 SnS 4 + (Fe,Zn) 2 SnS 4; the metal also occurs in some epidotes, and in company with columbium, tantalum and other metals.
Of these "tinstone" is of the greatest commercial importance.
Throughout the world, primary deposits of tinstone are in or closely connected with granite or acid eruptive rocks of the same type, its mineral associates being tourmaline, fluorspar, topaz, wolfram and arsenical pyrites, and the invariable gangue being quartz: the only exception to this mode of occurrence is to be found in Bolivia, where the tin ore occurs intimately associated with silver ores, bismuth ores and various sulphides, whilst the gangue includes barytes and certain carbonates.
The first stage has for its purpose the production of a fairly pure tinstone; the second the conversion of the oxide into metallic tin; and the third preparing a tin pure enough for commercial purposes.