The most common manganese ores are pyrolusite (MnO2) and rhodochrosite (MnCO3). Also common are psilomelane (Ba,H2O)2Mn5O10, lithiophorite, nsutite, takanelite, and vernadite. The oxide and hydroxide minerals are often black and described by the old mining term wad. Manganese minerals are found mostly in South Africa and the Ukraine. Vast quantities of manganese exists in form of manganese nodules on the ocean floor.
Manganese oxides and oxyhydroxides have been used as black pigments since antiquity. The element manganese is a silvery white, brittle metal about as dense as iron. It does not occur in its elemental form in nature, it was first isolated and identified as an element in 1774. Modern use includes the dry-cell, carbon-cathode battery which is the typical flashlight battery. Manganese dioxide is used for the electrolytic paste which separates the carbon cathode from the zinc-cased anode. Manganese is an excellent flux for deoxidizing iron and steel in reduction processes. Adding manganese to steel creates an alloy with much greater resistance to mechanical forces than normal steel.
Today manganese is generally mined in huge open cast mines. There are very few show mines which mined manganese. Most mines which mined manganese were actually mining something else, the manganese was a by-product.