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7

Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

In the previous chapters various aspects of the mineralisation associated with the
granites of the Bushveld were considered, in particular, the alteration of the
granites near mineralisation and the petrographic and geochemical features of the
alteration. Existing mineralised occurrences and deposits related to the Bushveld
granites were reviewed, as were examples of IOCG mineralisation from Olympic
Dam, Australia, and Salobo, Carajs mineral province, Brazil. New mineral
occurrences were documented.
Some of the considerations of the previous chapters will be revisited here in
greater detail. Other discussions are also presented here which may have been
outside the scope of previous chapters.

7.1. Comparison of Bushveld-type Mineralisation to Olympic Dam & Salobo


Similarities exist between the deposits and occurrences of the Bushveld, including
Vergenoeg, and those found in recognised IOCG provinces, such as Olympic
Dam in South Australia and Salobo in the Carajs mineral province of Brazil
(Figure 7.1). These similarities exist on cratonic, regional and locality scales. The
characteristics of each of these deposits are compiled in Table 7.1 for comparative
review and discussed below.
All of the aforementioned deposits are Palaeo- to Mesoproterozoic in age and
related to large-scale, A-type granite magmatism. Deposits appear to be located
near craton margins, although the Bushveld examples are situated more towards
the centre of the present Kaapvaal craton. Deposits are found in a variety of
tectonic settings (c.f. Figure 1.2) with high heat flow and magmatism being
related to mantle underplating (Hitzman, 2000).

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

Figure 7.1. Location of three major IOCG deposits at Olympic Dam, Carajs and Vergenoeg.
Proterozoic crust shown in dark grey, Phanerozoic rocks in medium grey and light grey (from
Groves, 2004).

Mineralisation may be both endogranitic and exogranitic, and tends to form subvertical breccia pipes. Mineralisation is generally concentrated in the zone of fluid
mixing between hotter, more saline magmatic fluids and colder less saline, more
oxidised meteoric fluids. Ores are dominated by iron oxide mineralisation, chiefly
hematite and/or magnetite, and are commonly accompanied by copper-bearing
sulphides, fluorite and a diverse range of other minerals including gold, uraniumbearing minerals and REE-bearing minerals.
Alteration of host rocks and country rocks appears to be a significant attribute of
mineralisation with characteristic styles of alteration observed in proximity to ore
deposits, notably sodic alteration, K-metasomatism, sericitic and silicic alteration,
carbonate alteration, chloritisation and hematisation. The patterns of alteration
appear to be consistent between deposits.

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Table 7.1. Synopsis of characteristics of IOCG deposits considered in this study.


Ruigtepoort

Vergenoeg

Olympic Dam

Salobo

Deposit Size

Not known, minor

178 Mt 28.1 %
CaF2
195 Mt 42 % Fe

2 000 Mt 2.5 % Cu

1 200 Mt 0.86 % Cu

Age

Palaeoproterozoic
1
2054.2 + 2.8 Ma

Palaeoproterozoic
1
2054.2 + 2.8 Ma

Mesoproterozoic
2
1588 + 4 Ma

Palaeoproterozoic
3
2573 + 2 Ma

Craton Position &


Tectonic Setting

Central Margin
Anorogenic

Central Margin
Anorogenic

Craton Margin
Anorogenic

Craton Margin
Continental Rift
Basin

Deposit Host Rock

Coarse-grained
A-type granite

Rhyolites

Coarse-grained
A-type
syenogranite

Metagreywackes
amphibolites

Granite
Relationship

Endogranitic

Exogranitic

Endogranitic

Exogranitic

Orebody
Morphology

Sub-horizontal
mantos in breccia
pipe

Steeply-dipping to
vertical breccia pipe

Steeply-dipping to
vertical breccia pipe

Steeply-dipping
shear-bounded
duplex structure

Model

Fluid-mixing in a
medium- to highlevel environment

Fluid-mixing in a
high-level
environment

High-level
environment with
exhalative activity
and fluid mixing

Ore Host

Hematite-Quartz
breccia

Hematite-Fluorite
breccia

Hematite-Quartz
breccia

Amphibolite shear
zone

Ore Assemblage

F (-Cu-Au)

Fe-F (-Cu)

Fe-Cu-U-Au-AgREE

Fe-Cu

Late fluoritesiderite-sulphide

Late barite-fluoritesiderite-sulphide

Vein Assemblage

Fe minerals

Hematite
(magnetite)

Hematite
(magnetite)

Hematite
(magnetite)

Magnetite
(hematite)

Cu minerals

Pyrite,
chalcopyrite,
arsenopyrite,
bornite, covellite

Pyrite, chalcopyrite,
arsenopyrite,
sphalerite,
molybdenite,
galena

Chalcopyrite,
bornite, chalcocite,
Ag, Au

Chalcopyrite,
bornite, chalcocite,
cobaltite Co, Au

U minerals

Not determined

Uraninite, coffinite,
brannerite,
pitchblende

Uraninite

REE minerals

Britholite,
bastnaesite

Xenotime,
monazite,
4
fluorcerite

Bastnaesite,
monazite,
xenotime, florencite

Other Significant
Phases

Fluorite,
ferroactinolite

Fluorite, fayalite,
apatite,
ferroactinolite

Fluorite with
sulphide in barren
core

Fluorite, fayalite,

Alteration Styles

K-metasomatism,
sericitic-silicic,
chloritisation,
hematisation

Hematisation,
K-metasomatism,
sideritic

K-metasomatism,
sericitic-silicic,
chloritisation,
hematisation

Na-metasomatism,
K-metasomatism,
sericitic-silicic,
chloritisation

Number of Fluids

No data

2 fluids

2 fluids

2 fluids

Fluid Temperatures
and Compositions

No data

1) 500 C
18
O = 7-8
2) 150-500 C

1) 400 C
18
O = 10
2) 200 - 400 C
18
O = 10

1) 360 C
2) 195 C

1) > 67 % NaCl
7-42 % NaCl equiv.
1) 58 % NaCl
equiv.
equiv.
2) 1-35 % NaCl
2) 1-29 % NaCl
equiv.
equiv.
1
Harmer & Armstrong (2000); 2 Creaser & Cooper (1993); 3 Machado et al. (1991); 4 Fourie (2000)
Salinity

No data

34

S = 0.2-1.6

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Geological Models for Bushveld-type Mineralisation


Crocker et al. (1988) first suggested the deposits of Vergenoeg and Ruigtepoort to
be genetically equivalent with differences between them attributed to differing
levels of formation (Figure 7.2). The breccia pipe of Vergenoeg is hosted in
Rooiberg Group rhyolites and had a volcanic/phreatomagmatic expression on the
paleosurface consisting of ignimbrites, pyroclastic layers and agglomerates.
Olympic Dam is also considered to have been a near-surface volcanic feature
(Oreskes & Einaudi, 1990, 1992; Reeve et al., 1990) but was not a significant
eruptive centre for coherent lavas or ignimbrites (Reynolds, 2000). The body at
Ruigtepoort is modelled as being a sub-horizontal, manto-like feature without a
volcanic expression. The abundance of roof-rock lithologies and xenoliths near
the deposit suggest that Ruigtepoort was formed towards the top of

Figure 7.2. Schematic model of level of formation for some Bushveld-type Fe-F deposits (from
Crocker et al., 1988).

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the Nebo granite sheet and perhaps not as deep as intimated by Crocker et al.
(1988). It is not known whether the granite is domed, which may have influenced
the distribution of the mineralisation and locally concentrated fluids upwards. The
numerous mineralised occurrences extending from the Ruigtepoort mine
northwards into the overlying stratigraphy may support this (c.f. Figure 2.10).
Mineralisation at Salobo is also modelled to have been developed at some depth
(c.f. Figure 1.12). According to Skirrow et al. (2000), a high crustal level is
requisite for the formation of Cu-Au ores.

Discussion on Mineral Assemblages


Bailie & Robb (2004) described the nature of polymetallic mineralisation in the
granites of the south-eastern portion of the Bushveld Complex and identified four
broad types (Table 2.4), of which the Fe-F mineralisation, such as that of
Vergenoeg and Ruigtepoort, formed one (Type IV). The Fe-F association is
considered to be epigenetic in nature and occurs as a late-stage overprint of the
other types. The small, mineralised occurrences of the study area were classified
according to this scheme. This late-stage Fe-F overprint was apparent in each
case; however, characteristics of Type II and Type III mineralisation were
observed. The occurrences at Slipfontein, Elandslaagte and possibly Blokspruit
exhibit mineral associations in line with Type II deposits, whereas Ruigtepoort
and Doornfontein occurrences exhibit mineral associations in line with Type III
deposits. According to the model of Bailie & Robb (2004), Type II deposits
precede Type III deposits, implying that there were (at least) two episodes of
mineralisation.
However, this may be insufficient on its own to indicate the relative timing of
mineralisation in each occurrence because the mineralisation is considered to have
been episodic and punctuated in time (Robb et al., 2000). Overprinting of earlier
episodes of alteration and mineralisation is expected and indeed observed.
Further, considering the pronounced or subdued characteristics of one

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mineralisation type compared with another may not fully appreciate the
continuum of assemblages that might occur. Differences between the occurrences
may simply reflect the degree of overprinting by subsequent mineralising
episodes.
The primary assemblage at Vergenoeg is considered to have been composed of
fayalite, ilmenite, titanium magnetite, fluorite and REE minerals (Borrok et al.,
1998; Fourie, 2000). A secondary assemblage of magnetite, titanium magnetite,
siderite, quartz, apatite, sulphides and REE minerals overprinted this. A late-stage
overprint of Fe-F completed the paragenesis, equivalent to the Type IV
assemblage proposed by Bailie & Robb (2004). The assemblage observed at
Blokspruit may most resemble the primary assemblage at Vergenoeg. The coarse
ferroactinolite that occurs as the vein fill in the granite mega-breccia, may
represent an alteration of a primary fayalite-dominated assemblage, such as that
found in the lowest parts of the Vergenoeg deposit. The subsequent alteration of
ferroactinolite to Fe-chlorite and quartz-hematite pseudomorphs is indicative of
the subsequent stages in the evolving paragenetic sequence. The similarities in
primary mineralogy between Blokspruit (and Ruigtepoort) and Vergenoeg lend
strong support to idea that all of these bodies formed under similar geological and
geochemical conditions.

Discussion on Alteration Patterns and Sources


The presence of fayalite in a granite system is indicative of the Fe-rich nature of
the mineralising hydrothermal fluids, far more so than one would expect to be
developed from a typical granite. A pertinent question is that of where and how
such Fe-rich fluids were derived. This problem may be resolved by considering
the alteration patterns and fluid compositions.
The styles of alteration associated with the Bushveld-type mineralisation indicate
a loosely defined zonation around mineralised veins and bodies from

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chloritisation closest to the mineralisation (< 2 m), to sericitisation accompanied


by silicic or epidote alteration beyond this (< 5 m), and K-metasomatism on a
much broader scale (<100 m), with albitisation occurring on a more regional
scale, although not easily identifiable in the field (Figure 7.3).
This broad alteration pattern has been described around most IOCG deposits,
sometimes with local variations. Hitzman et al. (1992) described the relationship
between the styles of alteration and included the relationship as a function of
depth and constructed the model reproduced in Figure 7.4. Sodic alteration is
shown to occur at the greatest depth, with potassic alteration, then sericitic
alteration becoming dominant towards the surface. Massive magnetite and
magnetite stockworks are shown to occur at intermediate levels but largely
corresponding to the distribution of potassic alteration. Massive hematite bodies
and mantos are shown to correspond to the distribution of sericitic alteration. The
implication is that the redox-controlled boundary between magnetite and hematite
formation and the pressure-temperature-controlled boundary between potassic and
sericitic alteration occur at similar levels. Sericitic-silicic alteration appears to be
confined to late-stage quartz-hematite breccias.
According to Barton & Johnson (2000), the alteration observed around IOCG
deposits can be explained by the fluid chemistry. They identified two broad endmember types of hydrothermal IOCG deposits with a continuum of hybrid
deposits between (Table 7.2). One end-member is typified by relatively hightemperature mineralisation, and relatively high K/Na and Si/Fe ratios in the
alteration; that is to say that potassic and silicic alteration is dominant. The fluids
are distinctive of magmatic fluid sources. These deposits represent the highest
potential for the development of economic IOCG deposits.
The other end-member is typified by more oxide-rich, sulphide-poor
mineralisation, low Si/Fe ratios, and voluminous alkali-rich alteration with sodic
types exceeding potassic types. The fluids of this group reflect the influence of

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Figure 7.3. Generalised distribution of styles of alteration about a mineralised vein or body, with
intense chloritisation, hematisation and silicification (Fe Si) occurring closest to the vein (< 2 m),
sericitic alteration (H) in close proximity (< 5 m) which may possess an epidote and/or silicic
component, K-metasomatism (K) in a more broad pattern around the vein (100s of m), and
albitisation (Ca Na) occurring on a regional scale.

Figure 7.4. Schematic cross section representing proposed relationships of alteration zoning in
iron oxide (-Cu-U-REE-Au) deposits, drawn to represent examples in volcanic and plutonic host
rocks (from Hitzman et al., 1992).

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non-magmatic brines, and due to the sulphide-poor characteristic of this type,


metals are less likely to be retained to form economic ore deposits.
The intermediate or hybrid examples of these two end-members are influenced by
both magmatic and non-magmatic fluids. All of the examples discussed in this
study were formed by the effect of two distinct fluids. It is likely that the case of
either end-member alone would be the exception rather than the rule.
An important derivation from the Barton & Johnson (2000) model is the
understanding of the source and distribution of metals within the systems and the
controls on ore deposition. The characteristics of each type is summarised in
Table 7.2.

Table 7.2. Characteristics of deposits from systems dominated by magmatic fluid and nonmagmatic fluids (reproduced from Barton & Johnson, 2000).

For magmatically sourced systems:

For externally sourced systems:

Histories will tend to be clearly related to one

related to individual magmatic events,

or a few magmatic events,

Mineralisation is correlated with igneous

Ca, + K) alteration, much of which may be distal

units,

(and metal depleted),


3

Moderate volumes (a few km ) of alkali-rich


which is proximal; distal acid alteration carries

Nature of the metal traps is varied (mixing, wallrock reaction, boiling, cooling); good traps may
not

Metals commonly correlated with high-T,

be

thus

many

well-developed

metals trapped distal to the iron-oxides),

Cooling is the fundamental trap, locally aided

by wall-rock reaction and mixing,

Favourable areas will thus:


a)

Favourable areas will thus:

Need an external brine source (surface,


connate, remobilised),

a)

Need proper magma types,

b)

Be near the tops of (former) magma

b)

Be

structurally

or

stratigraphically

controlled or near a heat source,

chambers,
c)

present,

hydrothermal systems can be barren (or have

magnetite-rich, quartz-rich centre of system,

Most metals commonly external to the high-T,


magnetite-rich centre of the system,

metal but generally less overall,

Large volumes (many km ) of alkali-rich (Na-

compositions and perhaps texturally distinct

alteration (K>Na in almost all cases), most of

Histories can be prolonged and not clearly

Be localised with intense Si and K +

c)

Be localised in upwelling zones with Na,


K or H + Fe (magnetite or hematite) + Si

Fe (as magnetite) metasomatism.

metasomatism

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The fluids of the Bushveld-type deposits have been shown to be dominated by a


high-temperature magmatic component (Borrok et al., 1998; Freeman, 1998).
Mineralisation is generally situated near the top of the granite sheet, with
potassium metasomatism alteration assemblages dominating over Na-Ca
metasomatism. Sericitic alteration is most proximal to mineralisation (although
not necessarily proximal to the source of heat or fluid), and may possess an
intense silicic component. This sericitisation is commonly obscured or overprinted
by chloritic or hematitic alteration which accompanies mineralisation. None of the
occurrences in the study area, however, demonstrate significant sulphide contents
and probably did not present suitable metal trap sites. The sulphide contents of
Vergenoeg, on the other hand, may be as much as 60 % of the volume of some
rock assemblages (Fourie, 2000).
The Bushveld-type mineralisation also possesses some characteristics of the
externally derived fluid end-member. Mineralisation appears to be structurally
controlled, distal albitisation has been noted by other authors (Kleeman & Twist,
1989; Freeman, 1989), and some appreciable metal deposits are distal to the
granites and Fe-oxides (e.g. Rooiberg Sn Mine, Phalaborwa, etc.). Evaporitic
halite casts are observed in sandstones of the Transvaal country rocks (Eriksson et
al., 2004), although there exists no evidence that the intrusion of the Bushveld
Complex caused dissolution of evaporate layers or that they had any influence on
subsequent mineralisation.
The system that produced the Bushveld-type deposits may have derived fluids
from different sources but appears to have been dominated by magmatic fluids.
An important feature of this model is the fact that similar geological features may
be generated under different conditions, some of which may produce ore deposits
and others only barren ironstones.
Oliver et al. (2004) emphasised the importance of sodic alteration in the
generation of IOCG deposits and postulated that regional albitisation was

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responsible for the generation of abundant Fe and K in the fluid (Figure 7.5). In
their model, fluids responsible for regional albitisation are coeval with the
intrusion of the granite batholiths and are derived, at least in part, from the
crystallising plutons. In order to produce intense albitisation, a highly saline fluid
is required. These fluids may have been derived by dissolution of evaporitic layers
in country rocks, or from the unmixing of a NaCl-H2O-CO2 + CaCl2 fluid derived
from the intrusive granitoids into hypersaline brine and CO2-rich gas (Pollard,
2001).

Figure 7.5. Schematic cross-section of the Eastern Mt. Isa Block Succession explaining the
distribution and generation of IOCG deposits and the likely chemical reaction paths between
source rocks, albitisation and ore deposits. Black arrows are inferred pathways of brines; white
arrows are speculated sulphur-bearing fluids. Fluid modification from albitisation indicated by the
variable grey shading (reproduced from Oliver et al., 2004).

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According to Oliver et al. (2004), the optimal conditions for ore genesis require:

a precursory modification of the fluid from albitisation to release K and


Fe,

a structural trap,

a reactive host rock, and

a sulphur source.

Barren ironstones will be produced along the modelled albitisation path where
sulphur is lacking. The availability of Cu is not necessarily a limiting factor, as all
pyrite-magnetite ironstones appear to contain chalcopyrite. The source of sulphur
in the system is postulated to have come from crystallising or leached gabbros (or
possibly mantle-derived fluids), which is constrained by 34S values of sulphides
from the deposits near 0 (Mark et al., 2000; Baker et al., 2001). Also, although
the data of Oliver et al. (2004) strongly support a major magmatic component to
the alteration and mineralisation (including Cu), the possibility of exotic NaCl
replenishment cannot be excluded. Their model supports the formation of ore by
the mixing between magmatic S-bearing fluids and saline brines.

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7.2. General Discussions on Aspects of the Mineralisation

Hematite Stage vs. Magnetite Stage


The stability of Magnetite Stage assemblages suggest high temperature reducing
conditions of mineralisation, whereas Hematite Stage assemblages represent the
lower temperature, oxidising equivalent. Magnetite, therefore, develops first in a
magmatic-hydrothermal system, and as in the case of Vergenoeg, occurs with
associated fluorite, fayalite and sulphides. In order to produce Iron Oxide-CopperGold deposits, two important factors are required at the time of the hematite stage.
Firstly, the existence and preservation of a plumbing stockwork and breccia,
secondly perhaps even more importantly, the presence of sufficient sulphur to
precipitate and concentrate metals. The sulphur may be sourced from the
magnetite stage sulphides or from surrounding/adjacent sulphur-rich country
rocks (as discussed in the previous section; c.f. Figure 7.3). Unless sulphur is
present in the mineralising system, sulphides cannot form even if Cu and Au are
present. This has been shown from fluid inclusions containing 5000 ppm Cu,
however, the host rock was barren as no sulphides were present to scavenge and
precipitate the metals. The metals were essentially lost from the system. It is well
known that within large IOCG provinces a great majority of Magnetite-Stage Iron
Oxide bodies are barren of Cu-Au mineralisation.
Previously proposed ideas that magnetite-stage and hematite-stage IOCG deposits
may be mutually exclusive appear now to be unfounded. Even in the classic
example of Olympic Dam, which until now has been purported to be entirely
hematite-stage, without the presence of the magnetite stage, appears to be untrue.
Remnant magnetite cores to hematite masses have been observed in Olympic
Dam ores, suggesting that the hematite is a later stage overprint of an earlier
magnetite-bearing ore. This feature is likewise observed in Ruigtepoort ores.
Within the Salobo Deposit of the Carajs Mineral Province, Brazil, the
mineralization consists mainly of iron oxides where the proportion of magnetite is
greater than that of hematite. These occur with dissemination of chalcopyrite,

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bornite and chalcocite (Requia & Fontbot, 1999). Accessory ore minerals are
hematite, molybdenite, ilmenite, uraninite, graphite, digenite, covellite and
sulphosalts. The suggestion of this is that whilst the hematite stage is an important
component of the formation of IOCG deposits, it may not be necessary for this
late-stage oxidation to be absolutely dominant in order to produce economic
mineralisation.

The Role of Fluorine


The role of fluorine in IOCG mineralising systems remains poorly understood.
Few workers analyse fluorine as a matter of course and as a result, a paucity of
data exists with regard to the significance of this element to the genesis of IOCG
deposits, if any.
Fluorine is a large, weakly charged and easily polarised negative ion, and is one of
the most strongly electronegative of all the ions. It has a powerful affinity for
large electropositive, weakly polarised cations, such as calcium. Ionic substitution
is largely temperature dependent, but also dependent on the ionic radius and
oxidation state of the substituted ion, in particular dominated by those most
resembling calcium, such as the lanthanides and the elements yttrium, strontium
and sodium (Crocker et al, 1988).
A lot is known of the activity and role of other complexing agents, such as Cl-,
which is well documented in Au mineralising systems. Fluorine on the other hand
is difficult to analyse for and is further digested by normal wet chemistry
analytical techniques. The aggressive nature of fluorine compounds such as HF is
known, in particular the ability of this acid to digest silica in great volumes. It
would therefore follow that the presence of this acid could promote the
development episyenitic granites; the myrialitic cavities of which subsequently
exploited for mineral/metal precipitation.

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

Fluorine is recognised to be an important component of specialised two-feldspar


granites responsible for tin-tungsten mineralisation, where fluorine may be present
in amounts as much as 4 wt% F, although more usually < 1 wt% F. An important
characteristic of fluorine-rich granites is their position on a Qz-Ab-Or ternary
diagram (c.f. Figure 5.3) which is displaced towards the albite apex suggesting
that they may be produced by albitisation of a pre-existing fluorine-poor granite.
The presence of fluorine in a melt has been shown to have the effect of replacing
alkali-feldspar with quartz as the first phase to crystallise from the melt (Manning,
1982).
It has been determined experimentally that the solidus temperature of a granite
may be greatly depressed by the presence of fluorine to as low as 630 C at 1 kbar
with 4 wt% F (Smith & Parsons, 1975). The low temperatures that fluorine-rich
granites exist at are below the solidus for normal granites. This suggests that they
may crystallise late in the history of a compound batholith and may be available
for late-stage intrusion. Therefore during crystallisation, increasingly volatile-rich
magma will enhance equilibrium between crystallising feldspars and produce
granite compositions which plot nearer the albite apex, but of primary magmatic
origin. The implication is that one may obtain compositions that are indicative of
albitisation but primary in origin.
The anomalous number of small fluorite occurrences in the Bushveld Complex is
considered to reflect the great volume of the felsic component of the Complex,
with the highly-incompatible fluorine being super concentrated in the late-fluid
derivatives of the crystallising felsic magmas. More work needs to be done to
determine the effect of fluorine in IOCG systems, in particular, in characterising
the regional albitisation described in many accounts to determine whether it is a
primary feature due to the increasing volatile content, or indeed a secondary
alteration effect.

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

Carbonatite Association
In some IOCG districts a spatial and temporal relationship between carbonatite
and other alkaline intrusions has been recognised (Harmer, 2000 b; Vielreicher et
al., 2000). The significance of this association, however, may not yet be fully
understood. It is likely that magmatism associated with mantle pluming involves
crustal melting of deep continental crust. This lower crust may be composed of
igneous rocks and carbonate sediments, resulting in peculiar magmatic
assemblages. The distribution of alkaline intrusives indicates that it is possible to
generate alkaline magmas in both intra-plate, anorogenic magmatic environments
and in extensional rift environments.
The Bushveld Complex is intruded by a conspicuous number of small carbonatites
and other alkaline intrusives. Incomplete or unreliable geochronology exist for
these intrusions, however two principal sets are defined one Bushveld-aged
(~2050 Ma) and the other Pilanesberg-aged (~1300 Ma). The distribution of the
known alkaline intrusives is shown on Figure 7.6.
The largest of these intrusions is the Phalaborwa Complex located to the east of
the Bushveld Complex. Although it does not lie within the limits of the Bushveld
Complex it has been shown to be coeval with Bushveld magmatism. The
geological and mineralogical characteristics of the intrusion, which appear
consistent with those of IOCG-type deposits, have drawn some authors to regard
it as such (Harmer, 2000 b; Vielreicher et al., 2000). The association made should
certainly warrant further attention. (See section 2.4 for a description of the
Phalaborwa deposit).
The Schiel Complex, also located in the Northern Province, South Africa, is
another large syenitic complex with subordinate carbonatite, foskorite, and syenogabbro. The deposit of apatite, associated with magnetite and vermiculite was
discovered in 1953. Subsequent exploration revealed ore reserves of 36 million
tonnes at 5.1% P2O5 in the weathered zone to a depth of 39.6 m (Verwoord 1986,

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Figure 7.6. Distribution of alkaline rocks and carbonatite around the Bushveld Complex (after Woolley, 2001; Crocker et al., 2001). Bushveldage alkaline intrusives shown in red, Pilanesberg-age alkaline intrusives shown in green and undated alkaline intrusives shown in blue.

____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

1993). Copper mineralisation is low-grade with the best known intersection of


0.23 % Cu over 1.5 m (Wilson, 1998). The determined age of 2,095 + 36 million
years (Walraven et al., 1992) is the same as the Bushveld age within error. It
should be borne in mind that only recent geochronology of the Phalaborwa
carbonatite indicated an age coeval to the Bushveld Complex. A reassessment of
the age of the Schiel Complex may provide insight into the abundant alkaline
intrusives spatially associated with the Bushveld Complex.
In close proximity to the study area are three similar carbonatite intrusions,
namely Kruidfontein, Tweerivier and Nooitgedacht, which lie on an approximate
north-south line (Figure 7.7).
The Kruidfontein Carbonatite Complex is the largest of the three, consisting
principally of pyroclastic rocks in a 5 km diameter volcanic caldera. The Complex
consists of ringed lithologies comprising an inner carbonatite bedded tuff and
outer silicate tuffs and breccias. Subsidiary flows of trachyte, phonolite, rhyolite
and other lavas have been identified (Woolley, 2001). Breccia fragments consist
of a combination of volcanic and country rock lithologies, namely trachytic,
phonolitic, rhyolitic and svitic rocks, banded ironstones, quartzite, dolomite,
schist and altered basic rocks. Extensive replacement by quartz, carbonate and
fluorite has taken place and intense K-metasomatism is recognized (Clarke & Le
Bas, 1990). Anomalous values of REE, Au, Mn, and Y have been obtained by
chemical analysis (Clarke et al., 1994; Clarke & Le Bas, 1990; Pirajno et al.,
1995).
The Tweerivier Carbonatite Complex is the only of the three hosted in Bushveld
granites, which have been locally fenitised. The geology of the Complex
comprises two remarkably different halves. The northern half is composed
predominantly of dolomitic carbonatite and the southern half is composed of
gabbros and anorthositic gabbros, with cross-cutting svite sheets and a
radioactive, silicified ferruginous rock (Woolley, 2001). The svite sheets include

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

accessory phlogopite, apatite (but may constitute up to 50 % of some rocks),


magnetite, calcite, dolomite, pyrite, rare olivine and baddeleyite.
In the Nooitgedacht Complex, carbonatite is the most abundant rock in outcrop
with minor fenites, svites and nepheline syenites. Planar layers of magnetite and
apatite occur with phlogopite, pyrite, pyrochlore, chondrodite and fluorite
(Woolley, 2001). Sulphides reported are galena, pyrite, pyrrhotite and
chalcopyrite. Substantial soil Cu-anomalies suggest copper enrichment at depth in
places (Harmer, 2000 b).

27o 45

o
27 30

25o 00

Nooitgedacht
Detailed
Study Area

Kruidfontein

Transvaal
Sediments

Lebowa
Granite Suite

Karoo
Sediments

25o 15
Tweerivier

Figure 7.7. Distribution of some carbonatite and alkaline intrusions near the study area. Base map is
taken from 1:250 000 Geological Sheet, South African Council for Geoscience.

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

7.3. Summary and Conclusions

The evaluation of the farms near Ruigtepoort has provided insight into the
development

of

geological

characteristics

consistent

with

IOCG-type

mineralisation. The geological mapping has determined the distribution and extent
of mineralisation on the farms Ruigtepoort, Blokspruit, Slipfontein, Elandslaagte
and Doornfontein and characterised the morphologies, mineral assemblages,
alteration haloes and mineral potential of many of these deposits and occurrences.
These geological characteristics were compiled with regional results for
comparison and compliment the existing inventory of known mineralisation
A clear relationship between mineralisation and alteration has been established
from both petrographical and geochemical observations, and the distribution
patterns of alteration types around mineralisation may permit vectoring towards
mineralisation. Certainly, the styles of alteration are indicative of the mineralising
system in operation, such that the recognition of certain alteration types may be
sufficient to identify prospective terranes. In terms of IOCG deposits, this entails
the recognition of regional albitisation, broad but intense K-metasomatism, and
sericitisation, silicification and chloritisation in the immediate vicinity of
mineralisation.
The identified characteristics of the deposits and occurrences of the study area
appear consistent with those of IOCG deposits. On a regional scale, they are
related to anorogenic, A-type granite magmatism that is Palaeoproterozoic in age.
The bodies are strongly structurally-controlled forming veins, breccia-pipes, and
sub-horizontal mantos, which occur near or in the intersections of structural
elements that may be splays from regional structural features. Mineralisation is
dominated by a late-stage alteration assemblage of Fe-oxide (hematite and
magnetite)-quartz-fluorite. The primary assemblage is considered to have
comprised ferroactinolite-magnetite-fluorite-apatite (britholite) and is preserved in
the Ysterkop North deposit. This assemblage closely resembles the primary

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

assemblage at Vergenoeg, which consists of fayalite-magnetite-fluorite-REE


minerals (Borrok et al., 1989). The difference between these assemblages is
principally of the presence of ferroactinolite and fayalite, which may represent a
variation in fluid characteristics or an as yet unrepresented alteration of fayalite to
ferro-amphibole.
A secondary, intermediary assemblage is identified at Vergenoeg consisting of
magnetite-siderite-quartz-apatite-sulphides-REE minerals. A similar secondary
assemblage may exist for the Ruigtepoort-type deposits but has been completely
overprinted by subsequent alteration. Intense chloritisation has completely
replaced actinolite-dominated assemblages, including the immediate granite
country rocks, such that it may be extremely difficult to determine intermediary
assemblages.
Anomalous metal concentrations in each of the occurrences and deposits appear
consistent with expected metal associations in IOCG deposits. Ruigtepoort
possesses anomalous Au, Cu and LREE; Slipfontein anomalous Cu LREE and
Mo; Blokspruit anomalous Cu and LREE; Elandslaagte anomalous LREE and
Mo; and Doornfontein anomalous LREE. Metal concentrations of the occurrences
however, remain far too low to be economic and may be a consequence of
insufficient sulphur in the system at the time of mineralisation.
Alteration haloes around mineralisation appear to follow proposed IOCG models
with intense K-metasomatism evident in many granites of the study area, intense
sericitisation-silicification in closing proximity to mineralisation, and pervasive
chloritisation of ore zones, affecting in particular of ferro-amphibole assemblages.
Hematisation is observed localised around fractures and ore zones affecting
magnetite and locally staining country rocks (beyond the normal deuteric
alteration).
The fluid characteristics for Ruigtepoort-type deposits has been inferred from
fluid inclusion studies of the Vergenoeg deposit. Two populations are recognised,

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

the first a high-temperature, high salinity magmatic fluid and the second a lowertemperature, lower salinity fluid with a meteoric component. Mineralisation is
modelled as having developed in the zone of fluid mixing.
The similarities between the occurrences of the study area and the Vergenoeg
deposit are convincing, and these deposits are regarded as having been formed
under similar conditions. Equally, the similarities that exist between Vergenoeg,
Ruigtepoort and the external examples of Olympic Dam and Salobo, indicate that
each of these deposits formed under similar geological and chemical conditions
with the capacity to form IOCG deposits.
The proposed model for Ruigtepoort and related deposits is illustrated in Figure
7.8. The principal feature corresponds to the level of formation. Vergenoeg
exhibits features of exhalative activity, whereas Ruigtepoort exhibits only
extensive fracturing, consistent with a deeper level of formation. The local
stratigraphy near Ruigtepoort is understood and indicative of a lower level of
formation, with ascending stratigraphic units occurring northwards from
Ruigtepoort towards Rooiberg. The recognised alteration patterns and the fluid
characteristics are consistent with the magma-derived fluid model of Barton &
Johnson (2004) (c.f. Figure 1.3). In this model, early magmatic fluids are only
capable of producing low-level, barren ironstones. Regional albitisation is
apparent but may be removed from the sites of mineralisation. Cu-Au
mineralisation is developed in high-level zones, in particular, in the zone of fluid
mixing between the original magma-derived fluids and surface waters. An
external sulphur source is required to concentrate metals. In this respect, the
sulphur-poor granites represent a poor prospect for significant metal
accumulations. The volume of ore contained in the Vergenoeg deposit indicates
that the Bushveld granites are indeed prospective for IOCG-type mineralisation of
economic proportions. The surrounding Transvaal sediments and sedimentary
inliers may present more suitable metal trap sites, in particular, sulphur-rich
lithologies.

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____________________________________Chapter 7 Discussion on Aspects of Mineralisation of the Bushveld Granites

The Bushveld-type mineralisation examined in this study is considered to be


consistent with other IOCG deposits and the proposed models for their formation.
Careful consideration of the salient characteristics may yet yield a world-class
IOCG deposit in arguably the largest anorogenic terrane in the world.
The mineralised occurrences of the study area are too small to be economic and
are too deeply eroded. By analogy to other deposits in the Bushveld Complex, any
larger ore-bodies of the IOCG-type that may have been formed in this area are
likely to have been eroded away.

Figure 7.8. Schematic model of level of formation for some Bushveld-type Fe-F deposits in
conjunction with alteration and fluid characteristics of an IOCG model where magmatic fluids
dominated (c.f. Figure 1.3) (modified after diagrams of Crocker et al., 1988; and Barton &
Johnson, 2004).

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