Sulphur Sources for Komatiite-Associated Ni Sulphide Ores in the Kambalda Mining District, Western Australia

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1996
The results of about 30 years of exploration and mining activities and research studies in the Kambalda mining district, Western Australia, have led to general agreement that the komatiite-associated Ni sulphide ores formed as a result of igneous processes (Ross, 1974; Ross and Hopkins, 1975; Gresham and Loftus-Hills, 1981; Cowden, 1988; Lesher, 1989 and many others). Despite this agreement, the controls on sulphide supersaturation and concentration of the resulting sulphide in a limited zone, remain uncertain and controversial. A major uncertainty is the source of sulphur in the ore deposits. Two principal sulphur sources have been proposed: 1. komatiite lava/magma (Hudson, 1972; Naldrett, 1973; Lesher et al, 1981; Cowden, 1988; Foster et at, 1995), and 2. sedimentary material (Groves, Barrett and McQueen, 1979; Lesher, Arndt and Groves, 1984; Lesher, 1989; Lesher and Campbell, 1993). Resolution of the uncertainty regarding the sulphur source is required for a complete understanding of the controls on ore formation, which in turn would significantly impact exploration strategies in the Kambalda mining district and elsewhere. This paper reviews the constraints on sulphur sources for the komatiite-associated Ni sulphide ores in the Kambalda mining district. The focus is on the general characteristics of the ores and surrounding rocks: individual ore deposits are not described, though specific examples are noted where appropriate. The stratigraphic and volcanic settings and geochemical (major and trace element and isotopic compositions) characteristics of the ore deposits and surrounding rocks are considered within the context of the competing sulphur source models, and future directions of research in the district are noted.
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