Abstract

We present results of computations on the interaction of solid-phase electrum–argentite–pyrite (weight ratios 2⋅10−5/2⋅10−3/1 and 2⋅10−5/4⋅10−2/1) association with Cl-containing aqueous moderately acid solutions (0.5m NaCl, pH = 3.08) at 300 °C and 500 bars. These data are a physicochemical basis for predicting the geochemical behavior of Au and Ag during the hydrothermal-metasomatic transformation of Au-Ag-pyrite. We also propose a technique of study of this process based on the phase equilibria of the subsystem Au–Ag–S with the aqueous solution at different liquid/solid (l/s) ratios, with the use of new graphic diagrams. The relationship of the composition of the solid-phase association with l/s ratio in real boundary conditions (Au = 17 ppm, mAu/mAg = 10–3.57–10–2.28) is shown. The maximum l/s values for complete leaching of gold and silver (l/smax = 200–800) are estimated. It has been established that argentite is the first to dissolve when mAu/mAg(s) > mAu/mAg(sol), and electrum, when mAu/mAg(s) < mAu/mAg(sol).

The experimental results showed that at 300 °C, the conversion of electrum (NAu = 300‰) nonequilibrated with pyrite into an Au-richer form (NAu = 730‰) and argentite follows an intricate kinetic scheme. Using the Pilling-Bedwords kinetic equation for processing data yielded the process rate constant K = 2.8(±0.5)⋅10−5 g2⋅cm−4⋅day−1. With this equation, the time of the complete conversion of 200 μm thick flat gold grains is 604 days. These data evidence a significant role of kinetic factors in hydrothermal-metasomatic processes involving native gold, which requires combination of thermodynamic and kinetic approaches on the construction of geologo-genetic models for hydrothermal sulfide formation.

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