The northern segment of the Palaeoproterozoic Itabuna–Salvador–Curaçá collisional orogen in the São Francisco craton (Brazil) comprises two high-grade terranes separated by the 150 km long, N–S-trending Itiúba Syenite. The Curaçá terrane to the west contains copper sulphide deposits hosted by hypersthenite–norite complexes (e.g. Caraíba body), whereas the Jacurici terrane to the east contains chromite deposits hosted by peridotite–norite sills (e.g. Medrado body). SHRIMP U–Pb dating of zircons, combined with a significant major element compositional gap indicates that the Caraíba (2580±10 Ma) and the Medrado (2085±5 Ma) mafic–ultramafic complexes are not related by fractional crystallisation as previously thought. Depleted-mantle Nd model ages for the regional gneisses are also distinct, with the Curaçá terrane having younger ages (2.4–2.8 Ga) than the Jacurici terrane (2.9–3.2 Ga), suggesting that they represent two independent fragments of continental crust accreted during the Palaeoproterozoic orogeny. Emplacements of the Itiúba Syenite (ca. 2084 Ma) and of the Medrado complex were apparently coeval, probably controlled by orogen-parallel block displacement, or escape tectonics, following continent–continent collision.