Invisible gold in ore and mineral concentrates from the Hillgrove gold-antimony deposits, NSW, Australia
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Vein-hosted mesothermal stibnite-gold mineralisation at the Hillgrove Au-Sb mine in northeastern New South Wales has a halo of veinlet and disseminated auriferous arsenopyrite and arsenian pyrite in metasedimentary and granitic host rocks. About 50–55% of the gold produced at Hillgrove occurs invisibly in arsenopyrite and pyrite. Gold losses of ∼20% into tailings are due to this mineral chemical factor. From PIXE probe analyses, it has been found that arsenopyrite contains 255–1500 ppm Au and pyrite 24–223 ppm Au, with Au contents of each mineral correlating moderately with As content. Arsenopyrite and pyrite also contain anomalous values of Cu, Ag and Sb, whereas paragenetically later stibnite contains little invisible gold, but minor Fe, As, Ag, Cu and Pb. The precipitation of invisible gold in arsenopyrite and pyrite by a possible (Fe, Au)3+= (As-S)3− substitution mechanism may have been facilitated by rapid, non-equilibrium conditions involving pressure decreases and wall rock reaction (sulphidation, carbonatisation), as a prelude to the main stage of stibnite and gold deposition.
KeywordsPyrite Host Rock Gold Deposition Wall Rock Chemical Factor
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