Abstract

Rock samples from about 280 podiform chromite deposits in California and Oregon were analyzed for Pt, Pd, Rh, and Ir by fire assay-atomic absorption and spectrographic techniques to estimate by-product platinum-group element potential of chromite mining. These deposits include ophiolites from the Sierra Nevada, Klamath Mountains, Coast Ranges, and the Canyon Mountain Complex; the deposits vary from Paleozoic to Mesozoic age and vary in size, shape, texture, and degree of metamorphism. The maximum platinum-group element contents (in ppm) measured for chromitites are: Pt, 2.53; Pd, 0.2; Rh, 0.14; Ru, 4.93; and Ir, 2.93.Correlations between Pt and Rh (0.60), Rh and Ir (0.64), Rh and Ru (0.71), and Ir and Ru (0.85) are significant at the 1 percent level. Relatively small but significant differences in platinum-group element content exist between geologic terranes. Chromite production from California and Oregon amounts to about 692,000 metric tons (1914-1985); the mean contained platinum-group element amounts in troy ounces are: Pt, 850; Pd, 100; Rh, 260; Ru, 4200; and Ir, 1,700, using estimated grades. Previous investigators have suggested that relatively few samples can represent the platinum-group element content of a podiform chromite deposit; therefore, these analyses are assumed to approximate "grades." Total world resources of platinum-group elements in podiform chromite deposits are estimated in troy ounces to be: Pt, 210,000; Pd, 25,000; Rh, 64,000; Ru, 1,000,000; and Ir, 420,000.

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