Violarite - A Key Mineral in the Supergene Alteration of Nickel Sulphide Ores

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 6
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1973
Violarite, (Ni,Fe) 3+x S4, is a ubiquitous secondary mineral in the supergene alteration zones of massive nickel sulphide deposits in Western Australia. It is formed by the pseudo- morphous replacement of pentlandite, pyrrhotite and/or millerite, and retains the textures typical of these precursors. Although the composition of the first-formed violarite is related to that of its precursor, supergene enrichment results in an increasing nickel:iron ratio toward the top of the supergene profile. In pentlandite-pyrrhotite ore, the replacement of pentlandite by violarite releases some nickel, which is consumed by the partial conversion of the pyrrhotite to iron-rich violarite. In pentlandite-millerite ore, on the other hand, the pentlandite, on conversion to violarite, appears to release excess iron that participates in the partial conversion of millerite to nickel- rich violarite. The characteristic textures exhibited by the secondary violarite and its replacement products in supergene and gossanitic deposits overlying massive nickel sulphide ores generally enable the original mineralogical compositions of the primary ores to be inferred.
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