Shale-hosted Ni-(Cu-PGE) mineralisation: a global overview

Simon Martin Jowitt, Reid Roderick Keays

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    Shale-hosted Ni-Cu-platinum group element (PGE) sulphide occurrences represent significant resources of not only Ni, Cu and the PGEs but also, in some cases, other elements such as Mo, Zn, Mn, V and U. The largest known deposit of this type that is currently being mined is the Talvivaara Zn-Ni-Cu-Mn-U shale deposit in Finland. The total resource of this deposit is - 1.550 Bt of ore, at 0.22 Ni, 0.13 Cu, 0.49 Zn, 200 ppm Co and 17 ppm U, all of which can be extracted using a bioheapleaching mineral processing approach. Other significant examples of this deposit type are the Mo-Ni-Zn-Au-PGE deposits of the Niutitang Formation in China and the Ni-PGE-Zn-Mo-Re-Ag mineralisation of the Nick deposit in the Selwyn Basin, Yukon, Canada. However, although they provide insights into the processes responsible for mineralisation in shale-hosted Ni deposits, the Chinese and Selwyn Basin deposits are of too low a tonnage to make them high priority exploration targets. Other potential resources discussed here include the Okcheon shales in Korea, the European Alum Shale and the Chattanooga Shale of the Appalachian Basin. Possible modern analogues for the shale-hosted Ni-Cu-PGE deposits at Talvivaara, Nick, and in China include the Rainbow and Logatchev vent fields of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where hydrothermal fluids interact with ultramafic rocks, stripping them of metals before venting them at the seawater-ocean floor boundary, and sapropel formation in the Mediterranean, where organic carbon-rich sediments are interlayered with organic carbon-poor sediments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)187-197
    Number of pages11
    JournalApplied Earth Science: Transactions of the Institutions of Mining and Metallurgy: Section B
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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