Controls on the disseminated Ni-Cu-PGE sulfide mineralization at the Tubane section, northern Molopo Farms Complex, Botswana: Implications for the formation of conduit style magmatic sulfide ores

Jacob Kaavera, Akira Imai, Kotaro Yonezu, Thomas Tindell, Kenzo Sanematsu, Koichiro Watanabe

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The Molopo Farms Complex (MFC) is located near the western margin of the Archean Kaapvaal Craton, in southern Botswana. The complex hosts low grade disseminated Ni-Cu and platinum group elements (PGE) mineralization restricted to the lower ultramafic cumulates, notably in the feldspathic orthopyroxenites. The mineralized feldspathic orthopyroxenites contain up to 0.47 ppm Pt + Pd + Au manifested in the form of platinum group mineral (PGM) assemblages dominated by PGE bismuthotellurides, asernides and minor Au and Ag alloys. The PGM encountered are froodite (PdBi2), moncheite (PtTe2), michenerite (PdBiTe), sperrylite (PtAs2) largely associated with altered silicates and sulfide minerals. The association of PGM with sulfides suggests that they were originally concentrated by sulfide melt, while late stage reaction of sulfides with hydrothermal fluids resulted in the observed spatial proximity of PGM with altered silicates. The Cu/Pd ratios of most of the rocks fall within the primitive mantle range. However, the Cu/Pd ratios of the feldspathic orthopyroxenites are more variable, with few samples falling above and below the primitive mantle range suggesting the prior sulfide extraction from the magmas and the presence of cumulus sulfides. This is supported by the Cu/Zr ratios of these rocks which are also variable above and below unity. Trace element ratios on the (Th/Yb) PM versus (Nb/Th) PM plot indicate strong crustal contamination across all units including those not in proximity to the country rocks. The δ34S of the magmatic rocks are variable between −6.3‰ and −11.4‰. In contrast, the δ34S of dolomitic siltstones of the Transvaal Supergroup which constitute the immediate country rocks vary from −4.1‰ to +0.6‰. These data indicate that crustal contamination largely occurred prior to magma emplacement. It is inferred that the most important contaminant and source of crustal S were the Ramotswa and Ditlhojana Formations that include sulfidic shales at depth. We consider that magnesian basaltic magmas of B1 Bushveld magma composition underwent crustal contamination, assimilation of crustal S and segregation of sulfide melt in the feeder conduit or staging-chamber prior to final magma emplacement. The feeder conduit or staging-chamber was subsequently invaded by further B1 magma. This magma entrained some of the sulfides lodged in the plumbing system and flushed them to the final MFC chamber studied here. After the staging-chamber had already partially solidified, it was invaded by yet another influx of magma, possibly even more primitive than the B1 Bushveld magma. Being a crystal mush, this magma assimilated and entrained some of the previously formed orthopyroxenites manifested by fragments of orthopyroxenite in the harzburgites of the final MFC chamber. The presence of centimeter-sized globular sulfides and fragments of orthopyroxenite within harzburgites suggests that the complex was emplaced as separate pulses of magmas. Therefore, it is considered that sulfide accumulations may remain undiscovered in the feeder zones or the staging-chamber.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103731
JournalOre Geology Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology


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