Contrasting mineralogical and processing potential of two mineralization types in the platinum group element and Ni-bearing Kapalagulu Intrusion, western Tanzania
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. The Kapalagulu layered ultramafic and mafic intrusion is emplaced between the Paleoproterozoic Ubendian basement and overlying Neoproterozoic Itiaso Group metasedimentary rocks, located near the western shore of Lake Tanganyika. High-grade platinum group element (PGE) mineralization (1-6. g/t Pt + Pd + Au) is associated with chromitite and sulfide-bearing harzburgite within the southeastern extension of the intrusion, known as the Lubalisi Zone, which is covered by a layer of nickel-rich (0.2-2%Ni) laterite regolith that contains linear areas of PGE mineralization.In the Lubalisi Zone, the mineralization may be divided into several significant geometallurgical domains: (a) high-grade PGE mineralization (1-6. g/t Pt + Pd + Au) associated with stratiform PGE reefs and chromitite seams within a harzburgite unit; (b) high-grade PGE mineralization (up to 12. g/t Pt + Pd + Au) associated with small bodies and veins of nickel massive sulfide within harzburgite below PGE-bearing reefs and chromitite seams; (c) low-grade PGE mineralization (0.1-0.5. g/t Pt + Pd + Au) associated with a sulfide-mineralized harzburgite unit above the PGE-bearing reefs; (d) laterite style residual PGE mineralization (0.2-4. g/t Pt + Pd + Au) associated with chromite concentrations in the saprolite and overlying red clay horizons of the laterite regolith; and (e) supergene Ni associated with the saprock and overlying saprolite clay.Mineralogical study of three samples from the PGE reef consisting of high grade PGE chromitite and harzburgite indicate that this mineralization will give a good metallurgical response to conventional grinding and floatation due to the relatively coarse-grained nature of the PGM (P80 from. ~37 to 52. µm), association with base metal sulfides, and unaltered gangue minerals (Wilhelmij and Cabri, 2016). In contrast, mineralogical and metallurgical study of the Ni and PGE mineralized laterite indicate that it cannot be processed using conventional mineral processing techniques but that a hydrometallurgical route should be used to recover the base and precious metals. Because any process is very much deposit-controlled, significant metallurgical and geometallurgical testing of mineralized samples, as well as pilot plant testing, will be required to arrive at feasibility studies.
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