Alteration and ore distribution in the Proterozoic Mines Series, Tenke-Fungurume Cu-Co district, Democratic Republic of Congo

I. Fay, M. D. Barton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Two sediment-hosted stratiform Cu-Co deposits in the Tenke-Fungurume district of the Central African Copperbelt were examined to evaluate the alteration history of the ore-hosting Mines Series and its implications for ore distribution and processing. Core logging and petrography, focused on lithology and timing relationships, outlined a complex alteration sequence whose earliest features include formation of anhydrite nodules and laths, followed by precipitation of dolomite. Later alteration episodes include at least two silica introductions, accompanied by or alternating with two dolomite introductions into the existing gangue assemblages. One introduction of Cu-Co sulfides accompanied the last episode of dolomite alteration, overprinting an earlier generation of ore whose gangue association was unidentifiable. Sulfides and some carbonates were subsequently modified by supergene oxidation, transport, and reprecipitation to 100-200 m depth. Present-day ore distribution resulted from these successive processes. Ore is concentrated in two shale-dominated units on either side of a cavernous silicified dolomite, which is interpreted as the main conduit for the mineralizing fluids. Sulfide ores precipitated at the redox or sulfidation contacts between this dolomite and the shales. Later, supergene fluids dissolved and moved some of the metals, redepositing them as oxides and carbonates. Solubility differences between Cu and Co in supergene conditions caused them to precipitate separately. Thus, modern ore distribution at Tenke-Fungurume results both from original hypogene lithology- and contact-related precipitation and from supergene oxidation, transport, and Cu-Co decoupling. The supergene fluid flow also redistributed gangue minerals such as dolomite, which has an economically important influence on the processing costs of supergene ores.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)501-519
Number of pages19
JournalMineralium Deposita
Volume47
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Keywords

  • Central African Copperbelt
  • Gangue acid consumption
  • Mines Series
  • Ore distribution
  • Sediment-hosted deposits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology

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