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The inherent link between ore formation and geometallurgy as documented by complex tin mineralization at the Hämmerlein deposit (Erzgebirge, Germany)


A comprehensive quantitative mineralogical study on the Hämmerlein tin deposit in the Erzgebirge, Germany, not only yields insights into the genesis of Sn mineralization but also provides also important clues for beneficiation. The lithological units of the skarn and greisen deposit show significant differences in modal mineralogy and Sn deportment. These systematic differences are attributed to several stages of ore formation. Of greatest significance is a paragenetically late cassiterite-chlorite-fluorite-sulfide assemblage. This assemblage replaces pre-existing skarn lithologies and also forms stockwork mineralization in greisen-type ores developed at the expense of mica schist that surrounds the skarn. The co-genetic formation of the cassiterite-chlorite-fluorite-sulfide assemblage is captured by the mineral association parameter—a parameter that can be easily quantified from data acquired during automated mineralogy studies. To document the preferred mineral association, a ratio is introduced that illustrates how closely cassiterite—the only Sn mineral of economic relevance—is associated with chlorite, fluorite, and sulfides. This so-called MAMA ratio illustrates the strongly preferred association between cassiterite and chlorite. The results also illustrate that the abundance of rock-forming chlorite may be used as a proxy for the abundance of the much less common cassiterite. This proxy is well-suited to sort ore from poorly mineralized/unmineralized rock fragments early during the beneficiation process. Such separation may well be achieved by using a short wave infrared detector that is already deployed in commercially available sorting equipment. The case study illustrates the inherent link between the processes responsible for ore genesis, the definition of geometallurgical domains, and the selection of suitable beneficiation strategies.

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Change history

  • 22 March 2019

    Clarification regarding the calculation of the MAMA ratio.


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This publication is a contribution to the AFK research project that is funded by the BMBF in the r4 program (grant number: 033R128). Samples for the Hämmerlein deposit were supplied by Saxore Bergbau GmbH. Advice and feedback regarding the samples from Marco Roscher and Lars Starke (both Saxore) is greatly appreciated. Nancy Richter and Martin Miehlbradt are thanked for collecting some of the hand specimens. We would also like to thank Irina Bremerstein from UVR-FIA GmbH for crushing, blending, splitting, and classification of the bulk samples. Furthermore, we would like to thank Gerald van den Boogaart, Markus Buchmann and Edgar Schach for discussions on processing experiments and the MAMA ratio.

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Correspondence to Marius Kern.

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Editorial handling: B. Lehmann

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Kern, M., Kästner, J., Tolosana-Delgado, R. et al. The inherent link between ore formation and geometallurgy as documented by complex tin mineralization at the Hämmerlein deposit (Erzgebirge, Germany). Miner Deposita 54, 683–698 (2019).

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