PGE-rich Ni-Cu sulfide mineralization in the Flin Flon greenstone belt, manitoba, Canada: Implications for hydrothermal remobilization of platinum group elements in basic-ultrabasic sequences

Natalie Eva Bursztyn, Gema Ribeiro Olivo

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13 Scopus citations


The Flin Flon greenstone belt is best known for its world-class volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits. However, the recent discovery of the McBratney platinum group element (PGE)-Au occurrence and other PGE occurrences has drawn attention to the potential for Ni-Cu-PGE (Au) deposits in this belt. The McBratney occurrence contains some of the highest PGE and Au grades found in this type of deposit in North America (up to 207 g/t Pd, 34 g/t Pt, 2.6 g/t Rh, and 75 g/t Au). It is hosted in chlorite-actinolite and chlorite schists of the Bear Lake magmatic unit in the Bear Lake block of the Flin Flon greenstone belt. The metamorphosed host rocks are komatiitic and tholeiitic in composition. The mineralization is hydrothermal and postdates the regional, retrograde metamorphic event. It occurs as sulfide-rich veins and surrounding disseminated zones controlled by faults, as well as isolated disseminated zones within chlorite-actinolite and chlorite schists. Platinum group minerals (PGM) and gold are spatially and temporally associated with pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, carbonate, second generation chlorite, chamosite and, locally, stilpnomelane. In the disseminated zones, these phases replace the metamorphic actinolite-chlorite assemblage in both types of host rocks. Locally the veins are layered with pyrrhotite-rich zones and chalcopyrite-rich zones. The PGM include, in order of abundance, Te-rich sudburyite, borovskite, sperrylite, sudburyite, an unknown Pd-Te-Sb mineral, temagamite, and merenskyite, which occur mainly as inclusions in the sulfides. Minor amounts of PGE also occur within chlorite, carbonate, and stilpnomelane, and Au-Ag alloy is observed locally included in Fe sulfides in association with sphalerite. The mantle-normalized metal distribution shows that the McBratney mineralization is enriched in Bi, As, Au, Pd, Cu, Pt, Rh, Os, Ru, Zn, Re, and Ag; the mineralization is both enriched and depleted in Ir and Cr, and it is depleted in Ni in all analyzed samples when compared with typical komatiitic magmatic ore. The mineral assemblage suggests that the hydrothermal fluids were reduced (pyrrhotite-pyrite stable), neutral to alkaline, and CO2 bearing (carbonate-chlorite stable). Chlorite geothemometry indicates that the hydrothermal assemblage formed at temperatures ranging from 250° to 350°C. Under these conditions, PGE may have been transported mainly as bisulfide complexes and their precipitation likely occurred due to reactions of the hydrothermal fluids with the Fe-rich host rocks, which led to the formation of Fe sulfides, reduction of the activity of the bisulfide, and formation of PGM. Palladium precipitated mainly as tellurides and antimonides; however, Pt formed an arsenide. The abundant As, Te, and Sb may have been crucial in forming high-grade PGE ore. Sulfur isotope data indicate that magmatic rocks or fluids were likely the sources of sulfur, which may include the metamorphosed basic-ultrabasic sequence, hidden magmatic Ni-Cu sulfide mineralization, or fluids derived directly from postmetamorphic magmatic rocks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1490
Number of pages22
JournalEconomic Geology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2010


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