Abstract

The Serra Pelada Au-Pd-Pt deposit is located within the Carajás mineral province, which also hosts the world-class iron ore and iron oxide-hosted copper-gold deposits of the Amazon craton in Brazil. The unusual low-temperature hydrothermal mineralization at Serra Pelada is epigenetic, hosted by metasedimentary rocks of the Águas Claras Formation and structurally localized in the Serra Pelada overturned syncline. The orebodies are controlled by the intersection of subvertical NE-trending fault zones with metasiltstones, mainly at the syncline’s hinge, with minor ore occurrences at the upper and lower limb. Intense tropical weathering over the last 70 m.y. has completely overprinted the shallow ore in and near the flooded open pit, but primary hydrothermal features are preserved in deeper drill core delineating the remaining resource. Gold, platinum, and palladium mineralization is associated with intense argillic alteration, hematite breccias, and silicification, with the highest grade ore hosted by brecciated metasiltstones that are highly enriched in amorphous carbon. Distal alteration zones comprise a reducing and oxidizing alteration front. The hydrothermal mineral paragenesis comprises kaolinite, quartz, sericite, amesite (Mg-rich Al-silicate), amorphous carbon, hematite, monazite, rutile, pyrite, and a complex assemblage of Bi-, Ag-, Pb-, Cu-, Co-, Ni-, Pt-, Pd-, and Au-bearing, chalcogenide (S, Se), and arsenide (As, Sb) minerals. Major element changes during hydrothermal alteration include C and Mg addition, K depletion, localized silica loss, and silicification with notable introduction of trace elements including light rare earth elements (LREE), Bi, Pb, U, V, Cu, Co, Ni, and As. The hydrothermal alteration and element association of the Serra Pelada deposit show geochemical similarities with unconformity-related uranium deposits, which may also be enriched in Au, Pd, and Pt and were formed by mixing of fluids that interacted with a highly oxidized cover sequence and highly reduced rock packages in structures of brittle-ductile strain.

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