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Posts by Stephen J. Barnes

Magmatic Sulfide Ore Deposits

Magmatic sulfide ore deposits are products of natural smelting: concentration of immiscible sulfide liquid (‘matte’), enriched in chalcophile elements, derived from silicate magmas (‘slags’). Sulfide ore deposits occupy a spectrum from accumulated pools of matte within small igneous intrusions or lava flows, mined primarily for Ni and Cu, to stratiform layers of weakly disseminated sulfides within large mafic–ultramafic intrusions, mined for platinum-group elements. One of the world’s most valuable deposits, the Platreef in the Bushveld Complex (South Africa) has aspects of both of these end members. Natural matte compositions vary widely between and within deposits, and these compositions are controlled largely by the relative volumes of matte and slag that interact with one another.

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