Mineralium Deposita

, 44:765 | Cite as

Invisible gold in arsenian pyrite and arsenopyrite from a multistage Archaean gold deposit: Sunrise Dam, Eastern Goldfields Province, Western Australia

  • Y.-H. Sung
  • J. BruggerEmail author
  • C. L. Ciobanu
  • A. Pring
  • W. Skinner
  • M. Nugus


The Sunrise Dam gold mine (11.1 Moz Au) is the largest deposit in the Archaean Laverton Greenstone Belt (Eastern Goldfields Province, Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia). The deposit is characterized by multiple events of fluid flow leading to repeated alteration and mineralization next to a major crustal-scale structure. The Au content of arsenian pyrite and arsenopyrite from four mineralizing stages (D1, D3, D4a, and D4b) and from different structural and lithostratigraphic environments was measured using in situ laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Pyrite contains up to 3,067 ppm Au (n = 224), whereas arsenopyrite contains up to 5,767 ppm (n = 19). Gold in arsenopyrite (D4a stage) was coprecipitated and remained as “invisible gold” (nanoparticles and/or lattice-bound) during subsequent deformation events. In contrast, gold in pyrite is present not only as “invisible gold” but also as micrometer-size inclusions of native gold, electrum, and Au(Ag)–tellurides. Pristine D1 and D3 arsenian pyrite contains relatively low Au concentrations (≤26 ppm). The highest Au concentrations occur in D4a arsenian-rich pyrite that has recrystallized from D3 pyrite. Textures show that this recrystallization proceeded via a coupled dissolution–reprecipitation process, and this process may have contributed to upgrading Au grades during D4a. In contrast, Au in D4b pyrite shows grain-scale redistribution of “invisible” gold resulting in the formation of micrometer-scale inclusions of Au minerals. The speciation of Au at Sunrise Dam and the exceptional size of the deposit at province scale result from multiple fluid flow and multiple Au-precipitating mechanisms within a single plumbing system.


Sunrise Dam Gold Deposit, Eastern Goldfields Province, Western Australia Pyrite Arsenopyrite Invisible gold 



This study has been financially supported by an Australian Research Council LINKAGE Grant sponsored by AngloGold Ashanti Australia, PIRSA, and the South Australian Museum. YHS wishes to thank Sarah Gilbert and Leonid Danyushevsky at CODES for LA-ICP-MS analysis and data reduction. We are grateful to Nigel J. Cook for his valuable advice and comments on earlier manuscript. The manuscript benefited from insightful comments by Patrick Williams, Hamid Mumin, and David Lentz.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y.-H. Sung
    • 1
    • 2
  • J. Brugger
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • C. L. Ciobanu
    • 2
    • 3
  • A. Pring
    • 2
    • 3
  • W. Skinner
    • 1
  • M. Nugus
    • 4
  1. 1.Ian Wark Research InstituteUniversity of South AustraliaMawson LakesAustralia
  2. 2.Division of MineralsSouth Australian MuseumAdelaideAustralia
  3. 3.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesUniversity of AdelaideAdelaideAustralia
  4. 4.Sunrise Dam Gold MineAngloGold Ashanti Australia LtdLavertonAustralia

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