Ore Microscopy Applied to the Beneficiation of Volcanogenic Massive Sulfides

Exploration & Mining Geology, Vol. 6, No. 4, 1997

The presence of fine-grained mineral intergrowths, the complex distribution of deleterious minor elements, and the variable base-metal contents in some assemblages commonly pose technical problems for the processing of volcanogenic massive sulfide ores. The beneficiation of most massive sulfide ores from the Iberian Pyrite Belt requires extremely fine grinding to liberation sizes of K80 = 15 µm to 25 µm. For several deposits, mapping of the ore types and metal zoning patterns has shown that the different ore types are distributed as ore lenses within the massive sulfides. Mineralogical, textural, and metallogenetic studies have provided an understanding of the distribution of both the vertical and the horizontal metal zonation in the orebodies. Because the efficiency of ore processing is affected by ore textures, and because the same mineral commonly has different textures and varies in chemical composition, a relationship between textures of the feed and the middlings must be established for all ore types defined at the deposit scale. Quantitative mineralogical methods have been developed to provide, on a timely basis, the information needed to optimize the concentration processes for the massive sulfide ores at the Aljustrel and Neves-Corvo deposits, Iberian Pyrite Belt, Portugal.
Keywords: Mineral intergrowth, base metal, Volcanogenic massive sulfide ores, Iberian Pyrite Belt