ABSTRACT

This study provides the first detailed mineralogical data on platinum-group element (PGE) mineralization of the Waterberg Project, in a previously unknown segment of the Bushveld Complex located in the Southern Marginal Zone of the Limpopo Belt. The lower ultramafic F zone is dominated by sperrylite (up to 82 area%) with minor Pt–Pd bismuthotellurides, Pd–Ni arsenides, Au–Ag alloy, Rh–Pt sulfoarsenides and rare Pt–Fe alloys. The upper more felsic-rich gabbroic T zone is dominated by Pt–Pd bismuthotellurides (up to 90 area%), Pd tellurides and Au–Ag alloy with rare sperrylite, braggite, Pd stannides and antimonides. The platinum-group minerals (PGM) of the F zone are associated mainly with magmatic base-metal sulfides (pyrrhotite, troilite, chalcopyrite and pentlandite), that have undergone alteration during significant serpentinization, accompanied by the formation of the secondary sulfide assemblage. The T zone in a leucogabbroic sequence contains relics of magmatic sulfides and is characterized by the development of the indicative chalcopyrite-millerite-pyrite assemblage, which is associated with widespread hydrothermal quartz and hydrous silicates (amphiboles, phlogopite, epidote and chlorite). The fluid-induced style of PGM remobilization, the high Au/PGE and the high proportion of native gold in the high-grade T zone ores in the magnetite-bearing leucogabbroic rocks are unique to the Bushveld Complex. The genesis of the T ores is interpreted as a result of primary PGE enrichment in the zone of interaction between the first influxes of the Upper Zone fertile melt and a resident gabbroic melt at the top of the Troctolite-Gabbronorite-Anorthosite (TGA) fractionated sequence with subsequent fluid remobilization. Whether the hydrothermal overprint facilitated the PGE sequestration in a favourable setting or dispersed the pre-existing magmatic concentrations along fluid pathways remains essentially unresolved at the current stage.

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