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Massive Sulfide Deposit

Kidd Creek Mine, Timmins, Ontario

By Rex A. Crouch
Copyright © 2008 by Rex A. Crouch
Abstract

This is an overview of the Kidd Creek Mine identifying the location of the deposit, geologic
origin, the structural geology of the deposit, geochemistry that makes the deposit unique but
relates it to nearby sulfide deposits, and an examination of the minerals from the MTU Kidd
Creek Suite. The major sulfide minerals in the deposit are mainly pyrite, chalcopyrite, and
sphalerite. Other minerals are bornite, covellite, digenite, stromeyerite, pyrrhotite, marcasite,
galena, aresenopyrite, and silver. X-ray diffraction was conducted on several samples in the
suite and results presented herein. One sulfide in the suite was breaking down into a sulfate
and was addressed in more detail. Several reflected light images of polished sections are
reviewed to emphasize the complexity of the deposit.

Geographic Location: The Kidd Creek Mine is located 22 kilometers north of
Timmins, Ontario, Canada at latitude 48°41’23.70” N and longitude 81°22’17.96 W at an
elevation of 917 feet above sea level. [1]
Map 1. Kidd Creek Mine regional map [2] Image 1. Kidd Creek Mine satellite imagery [3]

Genetic Type: Archean, volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) with metavolcanic and
komatiitic rocks and high silica rhyolites under tholeiitic basalt in an Abitibi greenstone
belt consisting of high-grade Zn, Cu, and Ag ore. [4][5]

Geological Origin: An overview of the region shows thick eugeosynclinal successions
of metavolcanic and metasedimentary structures intruded by felsic and mafic plutonic
rocks. These successions formed a belt that has a general strike to the east but
demonstrates various levels of complicated folding. This belt extends to the east from
the Timmins area, through Noranda and Val d’Or, and ending in the Bourlamaque,
Quebec area. [6]

The Kidd Creek deposit is a VMS Archean lens with a rhyolite volcaniclastic pile, felsic
flows, and a thick sequence of mafic flows with dikes and sill throughout located in the
Abitibi greenstone belt. The lens has been overturned between 70 and 80 degrees with
profound structural deformation to include at least three phases of folding and north
trending of the structural body. The initial folds were isoclinals and have been refolded
and partially obscured by a set of northwest trending shear folds. The mentioned north
trending reopened previous folds but resulted in a deformation of the two fold phases.
The shearing, in addition to faults had a significant affect on the distribution and
redistribution of the sulfides. Hydrothermal fluids were also responsible in the mineral
deposition as defined by elevated MgO, Fe 2O3, and Cu which transect both the footwall
which is predominately rhyolite and the ultramafic rocks of the lens. [5]

Significance: Kidd Creek Mine is one of the largest VMS deposits descending more
than 10000 feet, and the lateral extents of the VMS deposit are 6 times as large as the
main deposit itself. It is estimated that 138 million tons are in reserve with grades of
2.35% Cu, 6.5% Zn, 0.23% Pb, and 89 g/ton of Ag. Many other metals are present
(such as Au) but not in economic concentrations. [5] Other minerals recovered in the
deposit include: bornite, covellite, digenite, stromeyerite, pyrrhotite, marcasite, galena,
and aresenopyrite. [6]
Relation to Other Similar Deposits Worldwide: Moving along the eugeosynclinal
successions of metavolcanic and metasedimentary structures where the Kidd Creek
Mine is found, other deposits such as the Kotia, Jamieson, and Genex share similar
geochemistry in terms of sulfides but the nearby McIntyre deposit was unusual being a
dissemination of chalcopyrite with tennantite and molybdenite in a quartz-feldspar
porphyry plus gold. On the flanks of the structure where the sulfide mines are found,
there are large bodies of diorite and gabbro. Going about 12 miles south from the Kidd
Creek deposit you encounter large gold deposits. Looking past sulfides and other
precious metals found in the Kidd Creek deposit and focusing on oxygen isotope ratios
a different story may be told. The oxygen isotope ratios in Zircons from rhyolites found
in the Kidd Creek VMS are 18O = 5.4 ‰ which is typically what is found throughout the
Superior Province. What is uncommon is that 18O = 14.2 ‰ to 16.1 ‰ in primary quartz
phenocrysts. The 18O content from the zircons are believed to be from partial melting of
a tholeiite source but the variation in the 18O for the quartz in the Kidd Creek deposit
serve as an additional indicator that Kidd Creek had a high degree of hydrothermal
exchange. [7] In relation to other similar deposits worldwide, the Kidd Creek deposit is
considered unique geologically but based on geochemistry with at least one noted
exception being the 18O content, otherwise it does share some similarities with deposits
of close proximity. [6] The discrete differences in geochemistry indicate that Kidd Creek
was probably more hydrothermally active than other VMS deposits
Map and/or cross-section

The below stratigraphic column is a very simplified version of the actual strata.

Figure 1 Kidd Mine Stratigraphic Column [4]
The below image represents a side view of the Kidd Creek deposit showing how the
lens has been tilted to the mentioned 70 to 80 degree angle. The pit it shown on the top
as well as the larger shaft houses. In the description of the specimens from the Kidd
Creek Suite found in the next section of this paper, I will identify the location (whenever
possible) where the sample was retrieved such as North or South ore body or hanging
wall or foot wall thus allowing the reader to visualize types of rocks and minerals
throughout the mine as they relate to this profile.

Figure 2. Kidd Mine ore-bodies viewed from west [4]
Various views inside the mine:

This photo depicts a contact point between
rhyolite lapillistone and coarser rhyolite
breccias at the top of the photo (photo is from
the 2300 level; roof bolt for scale).

The matrix of the lapillistone is completely
replaced by pyrite [8]

This is a 1 cm thick sulfide turbidite layer in
the hanging wall. [8]

This is a stringer of bornite in massive
chalcopyrite immediately overlying the bornite
zone. The field of view in this photo is 1 meter
wide. [8]

The above photos are to assist the reader in understanding the ores as they are found
in this deposit. An overview of some of the specimens found in the deposit follows:
Description of Specimens:

The following specimens are property of Michigan Technological University Geological
and Mining Engineering Department and represent the ore samples found at the Kidd
Creek deposit:

Specimen 20-3-456
Pyrite-Zinc ore from North Zone ore
body

Massive bronze colored ore with a sub-
metallic luster

Specimen 20-3-461
Diorite

Aphanitic smooth textured dull dark grey
colored rock
Specimen 20-3-459
Chalcopyrite from South Zone ore body

Massive dull brassy yellow colored
mineral with a sub-metallic luster.

Specimen 3463
Vaguely banded Sphalerite Pyrite

Bands of massive dark brown sphalerite
and brassy metallic-luster pyrite

Specimen 3444
Massive Andesite – Diorite from the
hanging wall

Aphanitic smooth textured gray vitreous
luster rock
Specimen 3469
Chert banded in massive Pyrite

Aphanitic very smooth textured rock with
varying degrees of dull to sub-metallic
luster in the pyrite

Specimen 3477
Massive banded Chalcopyrite

Massive mineral ore with a consistent
metallic luster

Specimen 3459
Cherty Breccia

Aphanitic smooth textured rock
Specimen 3437
Highly sericitized Rhyolite from the
footwall

Aphanitic glassy smooth textured rock
in various shades of green/tan with
white streaks.

Specimen 3453
Carbonaceous Horizon

Aphanitic greasy textured sub-metallic
rock

Specimen 3464
Carbonaceous Sedimentary rock from
the hanging wall

Aphanitic resinous dull dark gray greasy
luster rock with obvious layering
sedimentary features in shades of
brown.
Specimen 3447
Magnesite with Cr-Mica altered
ultramafic rock

Aphanitic sandy textured rock intermixed
with green chrome mica

Specimen 3445
Andesite – Diorite from the footwall

Aphanitic smooth textured dull dark gray
rock

Specimen 3455
Sericitized Rhyolite from the North Zone
ore body footwall

Aphanitic silky textured and is a bright
gray color. The rock has a wavy surface
with a sub-metallic luster
Specimen 3454
Carbonaceous Horizon Sulfides along
the bedding

Aphanitic smooth textured dull dark gray
rock

Specimen 3450
Altered Rhyolite from the South Zone ore
body footwall

Aphanitic glassy smooth textured with
greasy luster rock

Specimen 3480
Sphalerite – Galena ore

Massive grey to silver mineral ore with
sub-metallic to metallic luster
Specimen 3472
Rhyolite from footwall

Aphanitic glassy smooth textured dull
dark
gray rock

.

Specimen 3470
Fine-grained massive Sphalerite Pyrite
ore with thin folds of pyrite

Massive sub-metallic mineral ore with
varying colors of bronze pyrite to dark
bronze sphalerite

Specimen 3473
Pyrite in Carbonaceous Horizon

Aphanitic smooth textured dull gray
colored rock with some intermixed
brassy colored pyrite
Specimen 3456
Cherty Rhyolite from footwall

Aphanitic very smooth rolling textured
sub-metallic luster rock

Specimen 20-3-453
Graphite Agillite with Pyrite crystals

Aphanitic smooth textured mineral with
euhedral pyrite crystals intermixed

Specimen 3460
Stringer ore in Rhyolite from footwall

Aphanitic smooth textured dull ore with
copper colored sub-metallic luster
bands of chalcopyrite throughout
Specimen 3474
Pyrite – Sphalerite ore

Massive mineral with varying degree of
dull to metallic luster in which the pyrite
displays a bright brassy luster and the
sphalerite is a dull brownish color luster.

Specimen 20-3-452
Rhyolite Agglomerate with Quartz Eyes

Aphanitic smooth textured dull gray
rock with small phaneritic quartz pieces

Specimen 3466
Pyrite ore with Slate in Carbonaceous
Horizon

Aphanitic very smooth textured sub-
metallic rock with varying shades of dark
gray with sporadic bronze colored pyrite
specimens throughout
Specimen 20-3-457
Massive Chalcopyrite

Massive bronze colored
metal bearing saw marks

Specimen 3475
Chalcopyrite from South Zone ore body

Massive ore with bronze colored sub-
metallic luster to dull dark grey rock

Specimen 3452
Carbonaceous Horizon

Aphanitic smooth textured sub-metallic
luster rock
Specimen 20-3-455
Massive Sphalerite and Galena

Massive sugary textured grey sub-
metallic luster with dark brown dull luster
ore

Specimen 3408
Disseminated Sulfides in Carbonaceous
Horizon

Aphanitic ripple smooth textured blue-
white-grey colored sample

Specimen 20-3-454
Siliceous Chalcopyrite in Cherty Breccia

Aphanitic semi-smooth textured mineral
with bronze colored sub-metallic luster
Specimen 3448
Sericitized Rhyolite cut by chrome mica
(altered)

Aphanitic semi-smooth textured rock
A closer inspection of some of the above samples: Three samples were studied in
greater detail by x-ray diffraction for the below-indicated reasons. One of the samples
in the suite was breaking down from a sulfide into a sulfate and was lacking an
identification labels. A second was reviewed to insure the accuracy of the cards that
came with the sample. A third was inspected as the name given on the card was
vague.

Sample which was missing its identification card: About ⅓ of this sample was breaking
down from a sulfide to a sulfate. As mentioned, this is the only sample in the suite that
is breaking down. It had the odor of battery acid.

In the image to the left you can see the
cracks forming and a white powder
beginning to form near the top of the
rock in the photo.

I initially conducted a pH test on this
sample and found it to have a pH level
of 2.65 – (the upper quarter of the pH
spectrum) being acidic.

This acidic pH level suggested possible electric conductivity. A 2.43 gram sample was
removed from the affected area of the ore. The resistance was first determined to be
763 Ohms/cm on the surface of the sample. The sample was then immersed in 10 ml
of H2O. With the voltage probes 1 cm apart and in contact with the immersed sample,
the voltage produced was 0.058 volts varying by 0.003 volts as the water turned a pale
blue green color. The H2O used was left with 380 ppm total dissolved solids. The
process of this sample breaking down into a sulfate is producing about 76 microwatts
per cm so we can assume that the sample is producing its own heat and to some
degree can easily break down in solution. A more introspective question outside of the
scope of this paper may ask how the heat formed during the chemical reaction may
affect the surrounding rocks?
An x-ray diffraction was conducted on the sample as presented below:

This trace was difficult to interpret. There was a lot of noise at the beginning of the
trace that could not be smoothed out but there were peaks that positively identified
pyrite and iron sulfate hydrate (Szomolnokite) FeSO 4*H2O in the sample. The
Szomolnokite confirmed the suspicion that the sample was becoming a sulfate. One
peak remained unidentified.
Examining sample 3466. In confirming that the identification labels that came with the
samples were correct one piece was selected to be scrutinized. A small silver colored
piece of metallic mix was removed from the larger sample 3466 which is shown in the
above sequence of photos. This sample is said to be pyrite ore with slate in a
carbonaceous horizon. X-ray diffraction was conducted on the sample and Dr. George
Robinson and myself found that chlorite and quartz were present in the sample as well
as a very clean pyrite FeS2. Below is a trace of the x-ray powder diffraction pattern:

Quartz
Pyrite

Chlorite
The last specimen to be scrutinized is sample 3408 which has a very non-descriptive
label which states: “Disseminated Sulfides in Carbonaceous Horizon”.

The above trace indicates that sample 3408 is predominately sphalerite and quartz
A microscopic look at the complexity of ore textures from the Kidd Creek deposit:

In this magnified photo we see
disseminated, euhedral pyrite which
developed in sphalerite at the top of the
bornite zone – all surrounded by
chalcopyrite. The field of view is 1 cm
across. [8]

Atoll structures Pyrite which apparently
resulted from corrosion of the porous
cores of earlier pyrite in a bornite
matrix. It is also noted that there is a
grain of mawsonite in the bornite. The
field of view is 1 cm across. [8]

In this photo we see the corroded
remnants of early, Ni-carrollite located
in the core of a much larger pyrite atoll
structure. The field of view is 2 mm. [8]

In this image we see traces of digenite
throughout the massive bornite. In the
bottom left hand corner is a large grain
of mawsonite. Field of view is 5 mm.
[8]
Summary:

At the macro level, the Kidd Creek deposit is a geologically unique VMS with strong
evidence of hydrothermal alterations with geochemistry that shares some
commonalities with local deposits but is unique to the area. At the microscopic level
there are complex replacement series which required detailed study and explanation.
Economically, the deposit is very rich allowing for penetration past the 10,000 foot level
involving the advancement of mining technologies at all levels.
Works Cited:

[1] Info Mine (2006). “Regional Map of Kidd Creek Mine location”

[2] Info Mine (2006). “Kidd Creek”

[3] Terra Metrics. (2007). "Image of Kidd Creek Mine."

[4] Gibson, R., Hannington, Gibbins, DeWolfe, and Duff (2003). "The Kidd Creek
Volcanogenic Massive Sulfide Deposit: A Growing Giant, After Fortyt Years of Mining,
Exploration, and Research." The Gangue(78): 18.

[5] David M. Richardson (1998), "An Alteration Study of the Archean Kidd Creek
Volcanogenic Massive Sulphide Deposit, Abitibi Greenstone Belt, Canada for the
Department of Geology, Laurentian University Sudbury, Ontario, Canada

[6] Geology and Economic Minerals of Canada (1972), Geologic Survey of Canada,
Economic Geology Report Number 1

[7] King, Barrie, and Valley (1997), “Hydrothermal Alteration of Oxygen Isotope Ratios in
Quartz Phenocrysts, Kidd Creek Mine, Ontario” Geology, v. 25, n. 12, p 1079-108

[8] Mineral Deposits of Canada (2006), Photo library: Giant Kidd Creek Volcanogenic
Massive Sulfide deposit, Western Abitibi Subprovince, Timmins, Ontario, Canada.
http://gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/mindep/photolib/vms/kidd_creek/index_e.php
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