The Yatela gold deposit: 2 billion years in the making

K.A.A. Hein, I.R. Matsheka, O. Bruguier, Quentin Masurel, D. Bosch, R. Caby, P. Monie

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    15 Citations (Scopus)


    Gold mineralisation in the Yatela Main gold mine is hosted in a saprolitic residuum situated above Birimian supracrustal rocks, and at depth. The supracrustal rocks comprise metamorphosed calcitic and dolomitic marbles that were intruded by diorite (2106 ± 10 Ma, 207Pb/206Pb), and sandstone-siltstone-shale sequences (youngest detrital zircon population dated at 2139 ± 6 Ma). In-situ gold-sulphide mineralisation is associated with hydrothermal activity synchronous to emplacement of the diorite and forms a sub-economic resource; however, the overlying saprolitic residuum hosts economic gold mineralisation in friable lateritized palaeosols and aeolian sands (loess).
    Samples of saprolitic residuum were studied to investigate the morphology and composition of gold grains as a proxy for distance from source (and possible exploration vector) because the deposit hosts both angular and detrital gold suggesting both proximal and distal sources. U–Pb geochronology of detrital zircons also indicated a proximal and distal source, with the age spectra giving Archaean (2.83–3.28 Ga), and Palaeoproterozoic (1.95–2.20 Ga) to Neoproterozoic (1.1–1.8 Ga) zircons in the Yatela depocentre. The 1.1–1.8 Ga age spectrum restricts the maximum age for the first deposition of the sedimentary units in the Neoproterozoic, or during early deposition in the Taoudeni Basin. Models for formation of the residuum include distal and proximal sources for detritus into the depocentre, however, it is more likely that material was sourced locally and included recycled material. The creation of a deep laterite weathering profile and supergene enrichment of the residuum probably took place during the mid-Cretaceous-early Tertiary.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)548-569
    Number of pages22
    JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
    Issue numberB
    Early online date5 Aug 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


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