High-grade Cu mineralization was recently discovered in the Mbesa prospect in southern Tanzania, but its origin is poorly constrained. Herein, we present new major element, trace element, rare earth element (REE), and platinum group element (PGE) geochemistry and petrographic data to constrain the origin of the mineralization. The sulfide mineralization is dominated by chalcopyrite and bornite and characterized by high Cu/Ni over 100 in the massive and disseminated ores. The mineralization lacks pyrrhotite and pentlandite, which are found commonly in magmatic Ni-Cu-PGE sulfide deposits. Platinum group minerals present are michenerite (PdBiTe) and sudburyite (PdSb). PGE concentrations expressed as Pd + Pt + Au are up to 1.31 and 1.04 ppm in the massive and disseminated ores, respectively. The δ34S of chalcopyrite separates range from –3.9 to –0.6, bornite separates vary from –1.8 to 1.1, and bornite-chalcopyrite mixtures yield –1.3 and 0.6, mostly consistent with a magmatic sulfur origin. The sulfides are hosted by coarse-grained plagioclase amphibolite and hornblende gneiss with recrystallization textures suggestive of metamorphism. Both rocks are characterized by enrichment in large ion lithophile elements (LILEs), with negative anomalies of Zr and Nb, consistent with crustal contamination of magmas derived from partial melting of subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM). An SCLM origin is further suggested by the close association of Cu sulfides with carbonates and apatite. It is suggested that the sulfides crystallized from the fractionated Cu-rich sulfide melt enriched in intermediate solid solution (iss) at shallow crustal levels. Sulfide were likely mobilized as droplets attached to CO2 vapor phase as expressed by close association between carbonates and apatite with the Cu-rich sulfides. Nickel-rich sulfides may remain undiscovered at deeper portions around the Mbesa prospect.

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