Abstract

We carried out experiments on crystallization of Fe-containing melts FeS2Ag0.1–0.1xAu0.1x (x = 0.05, 0.2, 0.4, and 0.8) with Ag/Au weight ratios from 10 to 0.1. Mixtures prepared from elements in corresponding proportions were heated in evacuated quartz ampoules to 1050 ºC and kept at this temperature for 12 h; then they were cooled to 150 ºC, annealed for 30 days, and cooled to room temperature. The solid-phase products were studied by optical and electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy. The crystallization products were mainly from iron sulfides: monoclinic pyrrhotite (Fe0.47S0.53 or Fe7S8) and pyrite (Fe0.99S2.01). Gold–silver sulfides (low-temperature modifications) are present in all synthesized samples. Depending on Ag/Au, the following sulfides are produced: acanthite (Ag/Au = 10), solid solutions Ag2–xAuxS (Ag/Au = 10, 2), uytenbogaardtite (Ag/Au = 2, 0.75), and petrovskaite (Ag/Au = 0.75, 0.12). They contain iron impurities (up to 3.3 wt.%). Xenomorphic micro- (<1–5 μm) and macrograins (5–50 μm) of Au–Ag sulfides are localized in pyrite or between the grains of pyrite and pyrrhotite. High-fineness gold was detected in the samples with initial ratio Ag/Au ≤ 2. It is present as fine and large rounded microinclusions or as intergrowths with Au–Ag sulfides in pyrite or, more seldom, at the boundary of pyrite and pyrrhotite grains. This gold contains up to 5.7 wt.% Fe. Based on the sample textures and phase relations, a sequence of their crystallization was determined. At ~1050 ºC, there are probably iron sulfide melt L1 (Fe,S ≫ Ag,Au), gold–silver sulfide melt L2 (Au,Ag,S ≫ Fe), and liquid sulfur LS. On cooling, melt L1 produces pyrrhotite; further cooling leads to the crystallization of high-fineness gold (macrograins from L1 and micrograins from L2) and Au–Ag sulfides (micrograins from L1 and macrograins from L2). Pyrite crystallizes after gold–silver sulfides by the peritectic reaction FeS + LS = FeS2 at ~743 ºC. Elemental sulfur is the last to crystallize. Gold–silver sulfides are stable and dominate over native gold and silver, especially in pyrite-containing ores with high Ag/Au ratios.

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