2017: Discovery of Ni-smectite-rich saprolite at Loma Ortega, Falcondo mining district (Dominican Republic): geochemistry and mineralogy of an unusual case of “hybrid hydrous Mg silicate – clay silicate” type Ni-laterite

Discovery of Ni-smectite-rich saprolite at Loma Ortega, Falcondo mining district (Dominican Republic): geochemistry and mineralogy of an unusual case of “hybrid hydrous Mg silicate – clay silicate” type Ni-laterite

Abstract

Hydrous Mg silicate-type Ni-laterite deposits, like those in the Falcondo district, Dominican Republic, are dominated by Ni-enriched serpentine and garnierite. Recently, abundant Ni-smectite in the saprolite zone have been discovered in Loma Ortega, one of the nine Ni-laterite deposits in Falcondo. A first detailed study on these Ni-smectites has been performed (μXRD, SEM, EPMA), in addition to a geochemical and mineralogical characterisation of the Loma Ortega profile (XRF, ICP-MS, XRD). Unlike other smectite occurrences in laterite profiles worldwide, the Loma Ortega smectites are trioctahedral and exhibit high Ni contents never reported before. These Ni-smectites may be formed from weathering of pyroxene and olivine, and their composition can be explained by the mineralogy and the composition of the Al-depleted, olivine-rich parent ultramafic rock. Our study shows that Ni-laterites are mineralogically complex, and that a hydrous Mg silicate ore and a clay silicate ore can be confined to the same horizon in the weathering profile, which has significant implications from a recovery perspective. In accordance, the classification of “hybrid hydrous Mg silicate – clay silicate” type Ni-laterite deposit for Loma Ortega would be more appropriate.

Keywords: Ni-smectite; Ni-laterite; Hydrous Mg silicate depòsit; Clay silicate depòsit; Dominican Republic

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To Cite this article:  Tauler, E., Lewis, J.F., Villanova-de-Benavent, C., Aiglsperger, T., Proenza, J.A., Domènech, C., Gallardo, T., Longo, F., Galí, S., (2017): Discovery of Ni-smectite-rich saprolite at Loma Ortega, Falcondo mining district (Dominican Republic): geochemistry and mineralogy of an unusual case of “hybrid hydrous Mg silicate – clay silicate” type Ni-laterite. Mineralium Deposita, 1-20.

DOI: 10.1007/s00126-017-0750-8


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