Gold paragenesis and chemistry at Batu Hijau, Indonesia: implications for gold-rich porphyry copper deposits

Arif, J., and Baker, T. (2004) Gold paragenesis and chemistry at Batu Hijau, Indonesia: implications for gold-rich porphyry copper deposits. Mineralium Deposita, 39 (39). pp. 523-535.

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Gold is an important by-product in many porphyry-type deposits but the distribution and chemistry of gold in such systems remains poorly understood. Here we report the results of petrographic, electron microprobe, laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and flotation test studies of gold and associated copper sulfides within a paragenetic framework from the world-class Batu Hijau (914 mt @ 0.53% Cu, 0.40 g/t Au) porphyry copper–gold deposit, Indonesia. Unlike many other porphyry copper–gold deposits, early copper minerals (bornite–digenite–chalcocite) are well preserved at Batu Hijau and the chalcopyrite–pyrite overprint is less developed. Hence, it provides an excellent opportunity to study the entire gold paragenesis of the porphyry system. In 105 polished thin sections, 699 native gold grains were identified. Almost all of the native gold grains occurred either within quartz veins, attached to sulfide, or as free gold along quartz or silicate grain boundaries. The native gold grains are dominantly round in shape and mostly 1–12 mgrm in size. The majority of gold was deposited during the formation of early lsquoArsquo veins and is dominantly associated with bornite rather than chalcopyrite. The petrographic and LA-ICP-MS study results indicate that in bornite-rich ores gold mostly occurs within copper sulfide grains as invisible gold (i.e., within the sulfide structure) or as native gold grains. In chalcopyrite-rich ores gold mostly occurs as native gold grains with lesser invisible gold. Petrographic observations also indicate a higher proportion of free gold (native gold not attached to any sulfide) in chalcopyrite-rich ores compared to bornite rich ores. The pattern of free gold distribution appears to correlate with the flotation test data, where the average gold recovery value from chalcopyrite-rich ores is consistently lower than bornite-rich ores. Our data suggest that porphyry copper-gold deposits with chalcopyrite-rich ores are more likely to have a higher proportion of free gold and may require different ore processing strategies.

Item ID: 6897
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1432-1866
Keywords: Batu Hijau, Indonesia; gold; porphyry; copper
Date Deposited: 05 Mar 2010 04:51
FoR Codes: 04 EARTH SCIENCES > 0403 Geology > 040307 Ore Deposit Petrology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 84 MINERAL RESOURCES (excl. Energy Resources) > 8499 Other Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) > 849999 Mineral Resources (excl. Energy Resources) not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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