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Carajas Iron Mines, Serra dos Carajás - Serra Norte (N3, N4W, N4E, N5, N1, N2), Serra Sul (S11D, S11C), Serra Leste (East Ridge), South Felix Ridge

Para, Brazil

Main commodities: Fe
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The Carajás District contains known reserves/resources of the order of 18 Gt with an average grade of 65.4% Fe. All of these are controlled by Vale SA (previously known as Companhia Vale do Rio Doce - CVRD), who operate a series of mines, which together constitute the N4W, N4E and N5 operations on the Serra Norte and the S11D mine in the Serra Sul to the SE. Annual production for the year 2000 was 47.6 Mt grading around 63% Fe, which by 2017 had increased to 169.2 Mt. Because of the high grade, no concentration is undertaken on site at Carajás, although it is beneficiated to produce sinter feed, pellet feed and special fines for direct reduction as well as lump ore. All of this tonnage is transported by single track rail some 890 km to the port of São Luís in the state of Mananhão on the Atlantic coast where a new 6 Mtpa pellet plant is located.

The Carajás deposits are located in the south-eastern portion of the Amazonian Craton. Basement in this region comprises the 3.0 Ga Pium Complex ortho-granulites and the 2.86 Ga Xingu Complex gneiss and migmatites. These are overlain by the Carajás Basin volcanics and sediments of the 2.76 to 2.6 Ga Itacaiunas Supergroup and the overlying clastic sediments of the Aguas Claras cover sequence. These are variously cut by 2.6 Ga and younger gabbros, 2.53 Ga granites and 1.9-1.8 Ga granitoids.

The Carajás ores are hosted by the Grão Pará Group of the Itacaiunas Supergroup, which is composed of meta-basalts, meta-sediments, ironstones and meta-rhyolites. The ore deposits are hosted by an approximately 300 to 400 m thick banded chert-hematite jaspilite unit that is sandwiched by thick upper and lower volcanic units. The lower volcanic unit, the Parauapebas Formation, is 4000 to 6000 m thick and comprises bi-modal volcanics, dominantly massive, vesicular and porphyritic flows and agglomeratic breccias of meta-basalt, meta-basaltic andesite and meta-trachy-andesites with subordinate (10-15%) meta-rhyolitic tuffs and flows. Most of the volcanics have been metamorphosed to a low to medium grade and dip at 55 to 70°. The host Carajás Formation comprises deformed banded iron formations with some interbedded mafic meta-volcanics. The Upper Volcanics are similar to those of the Parauapebas Formation with mixed meta-sediments (fine grained tuffs, tuffaceous siltstones, phyllites, cherts and greywacke).

The volcanic sequence has generally been weathered to a depth of 100 to 150 m, while oxidation is observed to a depth of up to 500 m in the BIFs of the ore zone. The upper 80% of the reserve comprises a soft, friable enriched limonite near surface passing down into hematite to a vertical depth of around 300 m. Hematite rich, but harder and more siliceous pods occur within the soft hematite, but also as a transition to the un-enriched BIF at depth. The typical un-enriched BIF/jaspilite comprises a banded red quartz-hematite rock composed of alternating white chert with subordinate hematite.

At surface the deposit is draped with layer of canga (detritals). The Carajás BIF unit is evident in the uncleared rain forest as a well demarcated corridor of stunted shrubs and grassland fringed by luxuriant trees.

Reserves/Resources are distributed in a number of deposit groups, the largest of which is the Serra Norte (North Range) with - 6.2 Gt @ 65.8% Fe, 0.038% P, 1.0% SiO2, 1.05% Al2O3, 0.45% Mn, 0.01% S, 0.02% K2O, 0.03% Na2O and 1.88% LOI. The other reserves include: Serra Sul, (South Range) 35 km to the south - 10.4 Gt @ 66.3% Fe; Serra Leste (East Range) - 400 Mt @ 65.9% Fe; and South Felix Ridge - 600 Mt @ 62.8% Fe. The current production contains <1% Al2O3, <1% SiO2, <0.03% P2O5 and <0.3 Mn, with about 10% lump and 90% fines (Mining Technology website).

Proved + Probable Ore Reserves at the end of 2017 were as follows (Vale Form 20 Report to NYSE, 2017):
  Serra Norte - 2.1692 Gt @ 66% Fe; which includes N4W, N4E and N5 mines and N1, N2 and N3 deposits not in operation;
  Serra Sul - 4.1953 Gt @ 65.5% Fe; include the S11C and S11D deposits;
  Serra Leste - 258.1 Mt @ 65.4% Fe;

Proved + Probable Ore Reserves at 31 December 2019 totalled 7.3463 Gt @ 65.9% Fe as follows (Vale Form 20 Report to NYSE, 2019):
  Serra Norte - 2.8237 Gt @ 65.5% Fe; which includes N3, N4W, N4E and N5 mines and N1, N2 project deposits not in operation;
  Serra Sul - 4.1981 Gt @ 66.3% Fe; include the S11C and S11D deposits;
  Serra Leste - 324.5 Mt @ 65.1% Fe;
Drill hole spacing used to classify the Reserves were: 150 x 100 m for Proven Reserves and 200 x 200 m for Probable Reserves.

Carajas IOCG Province Geology

The geology, structure and mineral deposits of the Carajás Mineral Province (after Xavier et al., 2010; Rosiere et al., 2006).

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this summary was dated: 2002.    
This description is a summary from published sources, the chief of which are listed below.
© Copyright Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd.   Unauthorised copying, reproduction, storage or dissemination prohibited.


  References & Additional Information
   Selected References:
Bekker, A., Slack, J.F., Planavsky, N., Krapez, B., Hofmann, A., Konhauser, K.O. and Rouxel, O.J.,  2010 - Iron formation: the sedimentary product of a complex interplay among mantle, tectonic, oceanic, and biospheric processes: in    Econ. Geol.   v.105 pp. 467-508
Cabral A R, Costa C H C and Seoane J C S,  2006 - Dreikanter-like pebbles of haematite ore, Carajas, south-eastern Amazonia, Brazil: in    Trans. IMM (incorp. AusIMM Proc.), Section B, Appl. Earth Sc.   v115 pp 9-12
Clout, J.M.F. and Simonson, B.M.,  2005 - Precambrian iron formation and iron formation-hosted iron ore deposits: in Hedenquist, J.W., Thompson, J.F.H., Goldfarb, R.J. and Richards, J.P. (eds.),  Economic Geology, 100th Anniversary Volume Society of Economic Geologists    pp. 643-679
Dalstra H and Guedes S  2004 - Giant Hydrothermal Hematite Deposits with Mg-Fe Metasomatism: A Comparison of the Carajás, Hamersley, and other Iron Ores: in    Econ. Geol.   v99 pp 1793-1800
Dalstra, H. and Rosiere, C.A.,  2008 - Structural controls on high-grade iron ores hosted by banded iron formation: A global perspective: in Hagemann S, Rosiere C, Gutzmer J and Beukes N J, (eds.), 2008 Banded Iron Formation-Related High-Grade Iron Ore, Reviews in Economic Geology,   v.15 pp. 73-106
Figueiredo e Silva R C, Hagemann S, Lobato L M, Rosiere C A, Banks D A, Davidson G J, Vennemann T and Hergt J,  2013 - Hydrothermal Fluid Processes and Evolution of the Giant Serra Norte Jaspilite-Hosted Iron Ore Deposits, Carajas Mineral Province, Brazil: in    Econ. Geol.   v.108 pp. 739-779
Figueiredo e Silva R C, Lobato L M, Rosiere C A, Hagemann S, Zucchetti M, Baars F J, Morais R and Andrade I,  2008 - A Hydrothermal Origin for the Jaspilite-Hosted, Giant Serra Norte Iron Ore Deposits in the Carajas Mineral Province, Para State, Brazil: in Rosiere C A, Spier C A, Rios F J and Suckau V E, 2008 Banded Iron Formation-Related High-Grade Iron Ore Reviews in Economic Geology   v15 pp 255-290
Guedes SC, Rosiere CA, Barley M, Lobato L  2002 - Carbonate Alteration Associated with the Carajas High-Grade Hematite Deposits, Brazil: in   Proceedings, Iron Ore 2002 Conference, 9-11 September 2002, Perth, Western Australia, The AusIMM, Melbourne,    pp 63-66
Gutzmer, J., Chisonga, B.C., Beukes, N.J. and Mukhopadhyay, J., C.A.,  2008 - The geochemistry of banded iron formation-hosted high-grade hematite-martite iron ores: in Hagemann S, Rosiere C, Gutzmer J and Beukes N J, (eds.), 2008 Banded Iron Formation-Related High-Grade Iron Ore, Reviews in Economic Geology   v.15 pp. 157-183
Hagemann SH, Rosiere CA, Lobato L, Baars F and Zucchetti M,  2005 - Controversy in Genetic Models for Proterozoic High-Grade, Banded Iron Formation (BIF)-Related Iron Deposits - Unifying or Discrete Model(s)?: in   Iron Ore 2005 Conference, Perth, WA, September 19-20, 2005 The AusIMM, Melbourne   Publication Series 8 pp. 67-71
Klein C, Ladeira E A  2002 - Petrology and geochemistry of the least-altered banded Iron-formation of the Archean Carajas Formation, northern Brazil: in    Econ. Geol.   v97 pp 643-651
Ladeira E A, Cordeiro J R C  1988 - Jazida N4E: Reavaliacao dos Corpos de Hematita Dura e Jaspilitos (English abstract, Portuguese text): in   Provincia Mineral de Carajas Litoestratigrafia e Principais Depositos Mainerais; Belem, Companhia Vale do Rio Doce, Sociedade Brasileira de Geologia, XXXV Congresso Brasileiro de Geologia Anexo Aos Anais    pp 57-69
Lobato L M, Figueiredo e Silva R C, Hagemann S and Thorne W,  2008 - Hypogene Alteration Associated with High-Grade Banded Iron Formation-Related Iron Ore: in Hagemann S, Rosiere C, Gutzmer J and Beukes N J, (eds.), 2008 Banded Iron Formation-Related High-Grade Iron Ore Reviews in Economic Geology   v15 pp 107-128
Lobato LM, Figueiredo e Silva RC, Rosiere CA, Zucchetti M, Baars FJ, Pimentel M, Rios FJ, Seoane JCS and Monteiro AM,  2005 - Hydrothermal Origin for the Iron Mineralisation, Carajas Province, Para State, Brazil: in   Iron Ore 2005 Conference, Perth, WA, September 19-20, 2005 The AusIMM, Melbourne   Publication Series 8 pp. 99-110
Pinheiro R V L and Holdsworth R E  1997 - The structure of the Carajas N-4 ironstone deposit and associated rocks: relationship to Archaean strike-slip tectonics and basement reactivation in the Amazon region, Brazil: in    J. of South American Earth Sciences   v10 pp 305-319
Rosiere C A, Baars F J, Seoane J C S, Lobato L M, da Silva L L, de Souza S R C and Mendes G E,   2006 - Structure and iron mineralisation of the Carajas Province: in    Trans. IMM (incorp. AusIMM Proc.), Section B, Appl. Earth Sc.   v115 pp 126-133


Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd (PorterGeo) provides access to this database at no charge.   It is largely based on scientific papers and reports in the public domain, and was current when the sources consulted were published.   While PorterGeo endeavour to ensure the information was accurate at the time of compilation and subsequent updating, PorterGeo takes no responsibility what-so-ever for inaccurate or out of date data, information or interpretations.

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