Descriptive and geoenvironmental model for Co-Cu-Au deposits in metasedimentary rocks: Chapter G in Mineral deposit models for resource assessment

Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5070-G

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Edited by:
John F. Slack
DOI: 10.3133/sir20105070G



This report is a revised model for a specific type of cobalt-copper-gold (Co-Cu-Au) deposit that will be evaluated in the next U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessment of undiscovered mineral resources in the United States (see Ferrero and others, 2012). Emphasis is on providing an up-to-date deposit model that includes both geologic and geoenvironmental aspects. The new model presented here supersedes previous USGS models by Earhart (1986) and Evans and others (1995), which are based solely on deposits in the Blackbird mining district of central Idaho. This report is a broader synthesis of information on 19 Co-Cu-Au deposits occurring in predominantly metasedimentary successions worldwide (table 1–1) that generally share common geologic, mineralogical, and geochemical features; preliminary summary versions were presented in Slack and others (2010) and Slack and others (2011), which are superseded by this report. As defined herein, the individual Co-Cu-Au deposits are located more than 500 meters from similar deposits and contain 0.1 percent or more by weight of Co in ore or mineralized rock; some deposits included in the database lack reported average Co grades, but they contain high Co concentrations, at least locally. Most of the deposits also have high As contents, present in Co arsenide and sulfarsenide minerals. Type examples of the Co-Cu-Au deposits are those in the Blackbird district, Skuterud in Norway, and Kouvervarra and Juomasuo in Finland. Some deposits in the database have low grades for Cu (for example, NICO in Canada) or Au (for example, Lemmonlampi in Finland), but these deposits are included because their geological, mineralogical, and alteration features are similar to those of the type examples. Several deposits included in the model are partly hosted by metavolcanic or metaigneous rocks (including granite), but regionally these deposits are within metasedimentary successions; no deposits are wholly within granite or other plutonic igneous intrusions.

Despite having a lower average Co grade, the Mt. Cobalt deposit in Australia is included here because it has past Co production from higher-grade ore zones (Nisbet and others, 1983). The Black Pine deposit in the Idaho cobalt belt is included because it contains mineable Co- and Au-rich lenses within Cu-rich mineralized zones (Formation Metals, Inc., 2012). Six deposits that lack data for average Co grades are also included because each reportedly contains abundant Co (>0.1 weight percent Co), at least locally. Many of the deposits are noteworthy as possible resources of Ag, Bi, W, Ni, Y, REE, and (or) U. Detailed data on the deposits listed in table 1–1, including references, are available in appendix 1. Significantly, the grouping in this report of Co-Cu-Au deposits in metasedimentary rocks into a single model includes deposits that other workers have previously classified in different ways. For background information, a global overview of different types of Co deposits worldwide is given in Smith (2001).

Additional geologically and compositionally similar deposits are known, but have average Co grades less than 0.1 percent. Most of these deposits contain cobalt-rich pyrite and lack appreciable amounts of distinct Co sulfide and (or) sulfarsenide minerals. Such deposits are not discussed in detail in the following sections, but these deposits may be revelant to the descriptive and genetic models presented below. Examples include the Scadding Au-Co-Cu deposit in Ontario, Canada; the Vähäjoki Co-Cu-Au deposit in Finland; the Tuolugou Co-Au deposit in Qinghai Province, China; the Lala Co-Cu-UREE deposit in Sichuan Province, China; the Guelb Moghrein Cu-Au-Co deposit in Mauritania; and the Great Australia Co-Cu, Greenmount Cu-Au-Co, and Monakoff Cu-Au-Co-UAg deposits in Queensland, Australia. Detailed information on these deposits is presented in appendix 2.

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Descriptive and geoenvironmental model for Co-Cu-Au deposits in metasedimentary rocks: Chapter G in Mineral deposit models for resource assessment
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Scientific Investigations Report
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U.S. Geological Survey
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Reston, VA
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Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center
xii, 218 p.
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Mineral deposit models for resource assessment (Scientific Investigations Report 2010-5070)
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