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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 96-110

Microfabrics and microchemistry of sulfide ores from the 640 FW-E level at the Al Amar gold mine, Saudi Arabia


1 Department of Mineral Resources and Rocks, Faculty of Earth Science, King Abdulaziz University, B.O. Box 80206, 21589 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Department of Geology, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt
2 Department of Mineral Resources and Rocks, Faculty of Earth Science, King Abdulaziz University, B.O. Box 80206, 21589 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Adel A Surour
Department of Mineral Resources andRocks, Faculty of Earth Science, King Abdulaziz University, B.O. Box 80206,21589 Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.1016/j.jmau.2013.12.003

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In a VMS ore at Al Amar gold mine (level 640 FW-E), sulfide minerals are paragenetically ordered as follows: pyrite(I)–sphalerite–chalcopyrite–galena–pyrite(II), deformations vary from brittle to ductile deformation fabrics. Microscopically, the massive sulfides have pyrite porphyoblasts (up to ~80%) that show evidence of creep dislocation as a result of low-temperature plastic deformation rather than brittle failure, whereas high-temperature annealment is completely lacking. Softer minerals such as chalcopyrite fill into fractures in pyrite as narrow slivers. Needle-shaped or lamellar morphology of chalcopyrite, together with the chemical composition of Fe-poor sphalerite (with maximum 0.99 wt% Fe) suggest a combined replacement–coprecipitation mechanism of chalcopyrite disease formation rather than an exsolution texture. Greenschist facies metamorphism produces an ore with distinct chalcopyrite disease into a stratified ore with microbands of chalcopyrite and sphalerite. Ore microfabrics and uncommon occurrence of epithermal stringers suggest noticeable effect of the Najd tectonics in the studied level. The EMPA analyses indicate that all sulfide minerals in the VMS ore are auriferous and the Au contents are considerable (up to 0.94, 1.31, 0.16 and 1.20wt%; in sphalerite, chalcopyrite, galena and pyrite, respectively). Gold in pyrite is “invisible” whereas it occurs as submicroscopic inclusions in sphalerite, chalcopyrite and galena. The VMS ore of Al Amar deep horizons are characterized by the occurrence of “invisible gold”, Ag-free galena, Fe- and Ni-poor sphalerite, negligible hydrothermal alteration, plastic deformation of pyrite and non-exsolution origin of the chalcopyrite disease intergrowth which are together strong indicators of low-temperature (250–300°C).


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