The ∼259 Ma Baimazhai Ni-Cu-(platinum-group element) deposit is located in the Ailaoshan-Red River fault zone on the southwest margin of the Yangtze Plate in the Jinping area of southeastern Yunnan Province. The intrusion is lenticular (∼530 m long × 190 m wide × 24–64 m thick) and concentrically zoned (margin to core) from gabbro through pyroxenite to peridotite. It contains ∼50 kt of Ni-Cu-(platinum-group element) mineralization, concentrically zoned (margin to core) from disseminated through net-textured to massive sulfides with an average grade of 1.03 wt.% Ni, 0.81 wt.% Cu, and 0.02∼0.69 ppm Pd+Pt. The sulfide assemblage comprises pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, and pentlandite, with lesser magnetite, violarite, galena, and cobaltite. The mineralization is enriched in Ni-Cu-Co relative to the platinum-group elements and the host rocks are enriched in highly incompatible lithophile elements relative to moderately incompatible lithophile elements with high Th/Yb and intermediate Nb/Yb ratios. These host rocks, and those at most other Ni-Cu-platinum-group element deposits in the Emeishan Large Igneous Province, have high γOs and intermediate εNd values, indicating that they crystallized from a magma derived from a subduction-modified pyroxenite mantle source and modified by crustal contamination. The initial concentrations of metals in the primary magma are estimated to have been on the order of 200 ppm Ni and 100 ppm Cu, but only 0.4 ppb Pd, 0.2 ppb Pt, 0.005 ppb Rh, 0.02 ppb Ru, and 0.01 ppb Ir. The δ34S values of ores and separated sulfides range from 5.8‰ to 8.6‰, between the ∼10‰ value of sulfides in the metasedimentary country rocks and the 0 ± 0.5‰ value expected for magmas derived from MORB-type mantle, or the –2.5 ± 0.3‰ value expected for subduction-modified mantle, consistent with equilibration at magma:sulfide mass ratios (R factors) of 100–1000. Variations in Ir100 and Pd100 (metals in 100% sulfide) are consistent with 40–60% fractional crystallization of monosulfide solid solution to form Ni-Co-intermediate platinum-group element (Ru, Os, Ir)-rich massive ores and Cu-palladium/platinum-group elements (Pt, Pd, Rh)-Au-rich residual sulfide liquids. This process is also recorded by magnetite: Type I (early magmatic), type II (late magmatic), and type III (secondary) magnetites exhibit progressively lower Cr-Ti-V concentrations. The platinum-group element contents in base-metal minerals are low, and only pentlandite, violarite, and cobaltite contain detectable concentrations of Pd, Rh, and Ru. There is abundant textural evidence for metamorphic-hydrothermal alteration of sulfides in the Baimazhai intrusion, with secondary violarite, chalcopyrite, and pentlandite being enriched (Ag, Sb, Au, Pb) or depleted (Sn) in more mobile chalcophile elements. The different tectonic and petrogenetic settings of the Baimazhai and other deposits in China highlight the potential of Ni-Cu-platinum-group element deposits to occur in subduction or post-subduction settings and demonstrate that the key controls are magma flux and access to crustal S. Exploration potential remains for the Ailaoshan orogenic belt to host additional magmatic Ni-Cu deposits.

You do not currently have access to this article.