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Carbonate-hosted nonsulphide Zn–Pb mineralization of southern British Columbia, Canada


Many carbonate-hosted sulphide deposits in the Salmo district of southern British Columbia have near-surface Zn- and Pb-bearing iron oxide-rich gossans. The gossans formed when carbonate-hosted, base metal sulphides were subjected to intense supergene weathering processes and metals were liberated by the oxidation of sulphide minerals. Two types of supergene carbonate-hosted nonsulphide deposits, direct replacement (‘red ore’) and wallrock replacement (‘white ore’), are present in the Salmo district. The direct replacement deposits formed by the oxidation of primary sulphides; the base metals passed into solution and were redistributed and trapped within the space occupied by the oxidized portion of the sulphide protore. Depending on the extent of replacement of the sulphides by Zn-, Pb- and Fe-bearing oxides, silicates, carbonates and phosphates, the resulting ore can be called ‘mixed’ (sulphides and nonsulphides) or simply ‘nonsulphide’. The wallrock replacement deposits formed when base metals liberated by the oxidation of sulphides were transported by circulating supergene solutions down and/or away from the sulphides to form wallrock replacement deposits. The direct replacement nonsulphide zones of the Salmo district overlay the sulphide bodies in which they replaced the sulphides and carbonates, forming large irregular replacement masses, encrustations and open-space fillings. They consist predominantly of hematite, goethite, hemimorphite [Zn4Si2O7(OH)2·H2O], minor hydrozincite [Zn5(CO3)2(OH)6], cerussite [PbCO3] and traces of willemite [Zn2SiO4]. The wallrock replacement zones consist mainly of hemimorphite with local occurrences of iron oxides, hopeite [Zn3(PO4)2·4H2O] and tarbuttite [Zn2(PO4)(OH)]. No remnants of sulphides were observed in the replacement zones. The Salmo nonsulphide deposits were formed by prolonged weathering of Mississippi Valley-type (MVT) mineralization that underwent dissolution and oxidation of the pyrite, sphalerite and galena protore. The weathering also leached out highly mobile Zn, less mobile Pb and left behind the iron oxides, precipitating Zn and Pb silicates within the protore or at a distance from the protore.

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This study was funded by the Cordilleran Targeted Geoscience Initiative Program (TGI-3; ESS contribution number 20130031) of the Geological Survey of Canada and Geoscience BC, and it was done in collaboration with the British Columbia Ministry of Energy and Mines. The authors extend their appreciation to Art Troup and Ed Lawrence of Sultan Minerals Inc., Pembrook Mining Corporation, Lloyd Addie, President of the Chamber of Mines of Eastern BC, and Brian Findlay and Jose Barquet of Dajin Resources Corp. for sharing their knowledge of the area and permitting us to sample drill core intersections and surface exposures. Three samples from the HB and Red Bird deposits were provided by Barry Richards of the GSC. Microprobe analyses were done by Peter Jones at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. The authors were assisted in the field by Hannah Mills, a graduate from the University of Alberta (Canada), Alan Duffy, a graduate from Trinity College, Dublin (Ireland), and Laura Simandl, a graduate from St. Michaels University School, Victoria (Canada). A critical review done by Bob Anderson (GSC) and edits done by Pearce Luck (British Columbia Geological Survey) were greatly appreciated and improved the manuscript substantially. Editorial handling by Bernd Lehmann and comments by Mineralium Deposita reviewers also improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Suzanne Paradis.

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Paradis, S., Keevil, H., Simandl, G.J. et al. Carbonate-hosted nonsulphide Zn–Pb mineralization of southern British Columbia, Canada. Miner Deposita 50, 923–951 (2015).

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  • Zinc-lead deposits
  • Sulphides
  • Nonsulphides
  • Supergene
  • Carbonate-hosted
  • Hemimorphite
  • Cerussite
  • Hopeite
  • Tarbuttite
  • Goethite