Distribution of gold and silver and its relation with hypogene ore minerals in the Esperanza porphyry deposit, Antofagasta Region, Chile

Shoji Kojima, María Constanza San Martín, Toshiro Nagase, Daisuke Nakashima, Claudio Bisso, Andrew Menzies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Modes of occurrence of Au- and Ag-bearing phases and their relation with associated hypogene ore minerals were examined with the objective to elucidate Au-Ag distribution at the Esperanza porphyry deposit in the Eocene Centinela copper belt, using ore-microscope modal analysis, semi-quantitative analyses by automated mineralogy, electron probe microanalysis, and secondary ion mass spectrometer. The Esperanza hypogene mineralization is characterized by early-stage chalcopyrite-rich veinlets in the potassic alteration zone and later polymetallic stage with tennantite and galena in the chlorite-sericitic alteration zone. Only the early-stage chalcopyrite contains fine-grained electrum (Au68Ag32 - Au81Ag19) and hessite (Ag2Te), and thus yields positive correlations in Cu vs. Au and Cu vs. Ag grades that are clearly recognized in the hypogene sulfide zone. The early-stage chalcopyrite grains frequently exhibit polysynthetic twinning suggestive of inversion from intermediate solid solution. These features suggest that the fine-grained electrum and hessite are products exsolved in the cooling process with the intermediate solid solution to chalcopyrite inversion. In contrast, tennantite and galena of the later-stage mineralization contain no detectable Ag, and it is thus proposed that the early-stage inverted chalcopyrite is the principal storage of economically important precious metals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)80-90
Number of pages11
JournalResource Geology
Volume71
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

Keywords

  • Cu-Au correlation
  • Esperanza porphyry deposit
  • chalcopyrite
  • electrum
  • microanalyses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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