I remember that in one of the Tolkien books it was explained a little bit how Mithril was obtained in Moria. Before reaching the Mithril veins there was another mineral that caused dwarves to get sick and die.

For the description that mineral reminded me to Uranium or something similar.

So my question is What was the name that Tolkien used for that mineral?

As a bonus, anyone knows in which book this explanation happens?

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    I've never heard of anything like that. It's certainly not in the book itself or its appendices, nor is it in Unfinished Tales where mithril is mentioned as also being found in Numenor. That really leaves the History of Middle Earth books. – ElendilTheTall Aug 27 '14 at 13:16
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    This sounds to me like one of the fandom books (I actually seem to recall vaguely that exact storyline in one of them...) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Aug 27 '14 at 14:19

It sounds like you're referring to the non-canon metal "Celebur" (Uranium), mentioned in the RPG Sourcebook "The Treasures of Middle Earth, Volume II"

Celebur or burning silver is a silvery white or silver-gray metallic material with a strong and very dangerous radiation.

Contact with Pure Celebur might turn out deadly but it is neverthless used in some evil Morgûl-alloys such asKregora and Mithrarian.

Celebur is not forged by any reputable smithies.

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  • That was it! Now I remember. I read it in RPG book.. – Oscar Foley Aug 28 '14 at 7:46
  • @cad - Glad to be of assistance. – Valorum Aug 28 '14 at 14:33
  • Richard... This is my first post here. I just wanted to acknowledge how impressed i was with this bit of research. – Joseph Kern Sep 1 '14 at 20:09
  • @JosephKern - We aim to please; stream1.gifsoup.com/view5/4083356/… – Valorum Sep 1 '14 at 20:25

There's absolutely nothing in any of Tolkien's works to suggest such a mineral.

The opening paragraphs of the Tale of Years for the Third Age (Return of the King Appendix B) so include the following statement:

Moria for long remained secure, but its numbers dwindled until many of its vast mansions became dark and empty.

It's possible that whatever source you recall was based on that, but the actual reason for this dwindling is never expanded on by Tolkien.

Looking at the Mithril element, even in the earliest conceptions, and at the point at which the name and idea of Mithril enters the stories (in History of Middle-earth 7), we read:

The dwarves tell no tale, but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth so also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep, and disturbed that from which they fled.

This is almost identical to the account in Fellowship of the Ring, with the exception of the words: "Durin's Bane", but despite that it establishes that the connection between Mithril and the abandoning of Moria was that the dwarves had disturbed and fled from something (the early plot outlines in History of Middle-earth 6 indicate even then that a Balrog was in Moria).

This one must be attributed to fan-fiction or other non-canon works.

  • 1
    This is an excellent answer. +1 – Möoz Aug 27 '14 at 20:28

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