Columbite is a black mineral group that is an ore of niobium. It has a submetallic luster and a high density and is a niobate of iron and manganese. Columbite is the most widespread niobium mineral and makes for an important ore of the industrially useful metal. Niobium, Nb, is used in alloys for improved strength. It also has shown superconductive properties and is being studied with other metals for a possible breakthrough alloy in this new industrial field.
Niobium had previously been called columbium hence the name columbite. The official name was made niobium in the 1950's after a century of debate, although some groups still do not recognize the official name and still refer to it as columbite. Of course most geologists still refer to its name sake mineral as columbite instead of the proposed "niobite".