Abstract

The Productora Cu-Au-Mo deposit is hosted by a Cretaceous hydrothermal breccia complex in the Coastal Cordillera of northern Chile. The current resource, which includes the neighboring Alice Cu-Mo porphyry deposit, is estimated at 236.6 Mt grading 0.48% Cu, 0.10 g/t Au, and 135 ppm Mo. Local wall rocks consist of a thick sequence of broadly coeval rhyolite to rhyodacite lapilli tuffs (128.7 ± 1.3 Ma; U-Pbzircon) and two major intrusions: the Cachiyuyito tonalite and Ruta Cinco granodiorite batholith (92.0 ± 1.0 Ma; U-Pbzircon). Previous studies at Productora concluded the deposit had strong affinities with the iron oxide copper-gold (IOCG) clan and likened the deposit to Candelaria. Based on new information, we document the deposit geology in detail and propose a new genetic model and alternative classification as a magmatic-hydrothermal breccia complex with closer affinities to porphyry systems.

Hydrothermal and tectonic breccias, veins, and alteration assemblages at Productora define five paragenetic stages: stage 1 quartz-pyrite–cemented breccias associated with muscovite alteration, stage 2 chaotic matrix-supported tectonic-hydrothermal breccia with kaolinite-muscovite-pyrite alteration, stage 3 tourmaline-pyrite-chalcopyrite ± magnetite ± biotite-cemented breccias and associated K-feldspar ± albite alteration, stage 4 chalcopyrite ± pyrite ± muscovite, illite, epidote, and chlorite veins, and stage 5 calcite veins. The Productora hydrothermal system crosscuts earlier-formed sodic-calcic alteration and magnetite-apatite mineralization associated with the Cachiyuyito stock. Main-stage mineralization at Productora was associated with formation of the stage 3 hydrothermal breccia. Chalcopyrite is the dominant hypogene Cu mineral and occurs predominantly as breccia cement and synbreccia veins with pyrite.

The Alice Cu-Mo porphyry deposit is characterized by disseminated chalcopyrite and quartz-pyrite-chalcopyrite ± molybdenite vein stockworks hosted by a granodiorite porphyry stock. Alice is spatially associated with the Silica Ridge lithocap, which is characterized by massive, fine-grained, quartz-altered rock above domains of alunite, pyrophyllite, and dickite. Rhenium-Os dating of molybdenite indicates that main-stage mineralization at Productora occurred at 130.1 ± 0.6 Ma, and at 124.1 ± 0.6 Ma in the Alice porphyry.

Chalcopyrite and pyrite from Productora have δ34Ssulfide values from –8.5 to +2.2‰, consistent with a magmatic sulfur source and fluids evolving under oxidizing conditions. No significant input from evaporite- or seawater-sourced fluids was detected. Stage 3 tourmalines have average initial Sr of 0.70397, consistent with an igneous-derived Sr source.

The Productora magmatic-hydrothermal breccia complex formed as a result of explosive volatile fluid release from a hydrous intrusive complex. Metal-bearing fluids were of magmatic affinity and evolved under oxidizing conditions. Despite sharing many similarities with the Andean IOCG clan (strong structural control, regional sodic-calcic alteration, locally anomalous U), fluid evolution at the Productora Cu-Au-Mo deposit is more consistent with that of a porphyry-related magmatic hydrothermal breccia (sulfur-rich, acid alteration assemblages and relatively low magnetite contents, <5 vol %). The Productora camp is an excellent example of the close spatial association of Mesozoic magnetite-apatite, porphyry, and magmatic-hydrothermal breccia mineralization styles, a relationship seen throughout the Coastal Cordillera of northern Chile.

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