2016: Critical metals (REE, Sc, PGE) in Ni laterites from Cuba and the Dominican Republic

Critical metals (REE, Sc, PGE) in Ni laterites from Cuba and the Dominican Republic

Abstract

Ni laterites are considered worthy targets for critical metals (CM) exploration as Rare Earth Elements (REE), Sc and platinum group elements (PGE) can be concentrated during weathering as a result of residual and secondary enrichment. In this contribution geochemical and mineralogical data of CM from two different nickel laterite types (i) from the Moa Bay mining area in Cuba (oxide type) and (ii) from the Falcondo mining area in the Dominican Republic (hydrous Mg silicate type) are presented. Emphasis is given on examining their potential to accumulate CM and on processes involved. Results show that CM are concentrated towards the surface in specific zones: (i) REE in clay minerals rich horizons and within zones composed of secondary Mn oxide(s), (ii) Sc within zones rich in secondary Fe and Mn bearing oxide(s) and (iii) PGE in zones with high concentrations of residual chromian spinel and secondary Fe and Mn bearing oxide(s) at upper levels of the Ni laterite profiles. Concentration factors involve (i) residual enrichment by intense weathering, (ii) mobilization of CM during changing Eh and pH conditions with subsequent reprecipitation at favourable geochemical barriers and (iii) interactions between biosphere and limonitic soils at highest levels of the profile (critical zone) with involved neoformation processes. Total contents of CM in both Ni laterite types are low when compared with conventional CM ore deposits but are of economic significance as CM have to be seen as cost inexpensive by-products during the Ni (+ Co) production. Innovative extraction methods currently under development are believed to boost the significance of Ni laterites as future unconventional CM ore deposits.

Keywords: Ni laterite; Rare Earth Elements; Scandium; Platinum Group Elements; Moa Bay mining area; Falcondo mining area; Cuba; Dominican Republic; Caribbean

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To Cite this article: Aiglsperger, T., Proenza, J.A., Lewis, J.F., Labrador, M., Svojtka, M., Rojas-Purón, A., Longo, F., Ďurišová, J. (2016): Critical metals (REE, Sc, PGE) in Ni laterites from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Ore Geology Reviews, 73, 127-147. DOI:

DOI: 10.1016/j.oregeorev.2015.10.010

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