Mineralogical association and Ni-Co deportment in the Wingellina oxide-type laterite deposit (Western Australia)

F. Putzolu, G. Balassone, M. Boni, M. Maczurad, N. Mondillo, J. Najorka, F. Pirajno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Wingellina deposit (currently owned by Metals X Limited) is an oxide-type Ni-Co laterite, with 168 Mt of ore grading 0.98% Ni and 0.08% Co. The laterite profile is derived from the weathering of the olivine-rich mafic-ultramafic layered intrusion of the Giles Complex (Mesoproterozoic) and consists of a well-developed limonitic ore and a thin saprolite horizon. XRPD, SEM-EDS and EMPA analyses revealed that the ore zone is dominated by Fe- and Mn-(hydr)oxides, which are the main carriers of both Ni and Co. The mineralogy of the Mn-hydroxides is complex, and high concentrations of Co and Ni occur mainly in a lithiophorite-asbolane intermediate phase, which has been subdivided into types I, II, III and IV, with significant differences in their Co/Ni ratios and Al content. The enrichment of metals in the lithiophorite-asbolane phases is mainly controlled by the Co and Ni replacement of Al in gibbsite-like layers, and rarely by Ni incorporation in the vacancies of Mn-(hydr)oxides. Other, less important, metal-bearing Mn-(hydr)oxides at Wingellina include romanèchite, ernienickelite-jianshuiite, manganite, and birnessite. The texture and chemistry of the Mn-(hydr)oxides suggest that the lithiophorite-asbolane phases were formed at a later stage with respect to the other manganiferous phases, after repeated leaching and re-precipitation of the Mn-(hydr)oxides. This process could be one of the main factors controlling the enrichment of Co and Ni in the limonite zones during lateritization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-34
Number of pages14
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Volume97
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

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