ABSTRACT

Concentration data are reported for 18 trace elements in chalcopyrite from a suite of 53 samples from 15 different ore deposits obtained by laser-ablation inductively-coupled plasma-mass spectrometry. Chalcopyrite is demonstrated to host a wide range of trace elements including Mn, Co, Zn, Ga, Se, Ag, Cd, In, Sn, Sb, Hg, Tl, Pb and Bi. The concentration of some of these elements can be high (hundreds to thousands of ppm) but most are typically tens to hundreds of ppm. The ability of chalcopyrite to host trace elements generally increases in the absence of other co-crystallizing sulfides. In deposits in which the sulfide assemblage recrystallized during syn-metamorphic deformation, the concentrations of Sn and Ga in chalcopyrite will generally increase in the presence of co-recrystallizing sphalerite and/or galena, suggesting that chalcopyrite is the preferred host at higher temperatures and/or pressures. Trace-element concentrations in chalcopyrite typically show little variation at the sample scale, yet there is potential for significant variation between samples from any individual deposit. The Zn:Cd ratio in chalcopyrite shows some evidence of a systematic variation across the dataset, which depends, at least in part, on temperature of crystallization. Under constant physiochemical conditions the Cd:Zn ratios in co-crystallizing chalcopyrite and sphalerite are typically approximately equal. Any distinct difference in the Cd:Zn ratios in the two minerals, and/or a non-constant Cd:Zn ratio in chalcopyrite, may be an indication of varying physiochemical conditions during crystallization.

Chalcopyrite is generally a poor host for most elements considered harmful or unwanted in the smelting of Cu, suggesting it is rarely a significant contributor to the overall content of such elements in copper concentrates. The exceptions are Se and Hg which may be sufficiently enriched in chalcopyrite to exceed statutory limits and thus incur monetary penalties from a smelter.

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