An AMF-PGC International Study Tour
Developed & Managed by Porter GeoConsultancy
Nickel 2000
The Major Nickel Deposits of the World
May-June 2000
Porter GeoConsultancy Home Page | More on This Tour | Other Tours | New Tours | Contact us
[Laterite Nickel Mining]
DEPOSIT DESCRIPTIONS

MODULE 2 - THE AMERICAS,
PART A - Caribbean Laterites,
Sun 4 to Sat 10 June, 2000

This MODULE and PART  commenced in Miami, Florida, USA on the evening of Sunday 4 June, 2000, and included the following:

Other Major Deposits in the Region Include:
  • Moa Bay, Cuba - Mainly ferruginous limonite laterite
  • Nicaro, Cuba - Mainly varied saprolite laterite deposit with lesser limonite.
This tour was divided into three Modules and  five constituent Parts.
The other parts were Yilgarn Sulphides & Laterites, SW Pacific Laterites, Canadian Sulphides & Eurasian Sulphides.


MODULE 2 - THE AMERICAS, PART A - Caribbean Laterites,

New & Recent International
Study Tours:
  Click on image for details.
Andean Porphyries
CopperBelts 2014
Click Here

Click Here
Santo Domingo Briefing - "Geological Framework of the Caribbean and its Nickel Deposits"
Presented by: Falconbridge Dominicana Exploration Staff

  • General Presentation on the Ultramafic Rocks of the Caribbean Region - Julio Espaillat, Falconbridge Dominicana,
  • Nickeliferous Laterites of the Dominican Republic - Jorge Jimenez, Falconbridge Dominicana,
  • Nickeliferous Laterites of Cuba - Salvador Brouwer, Consultant Geologist,

Return to top

Falcondo - Dominican Republic

The Falcondo operation of Falconbridge Dominicana, C. por A. is located near Bonao in La Vega Province, some 80 km north of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic occupies the eastern two thirds of the island of Hispaniola, which is separated from the easternmost tip of Cuba to the west by the 75 km wide Windward Passage. The operation has a production capacity of 32 000 tpa of contained nickel as ferro-nickel (40% Ni, 60% Fe). To date it has produced approximately 620 000 t of contained Ni since the operation commenced in 1971. Ore is currently taken from six mining areas, Larga, Loma Ortega, Fraser, Peguera, Taina and Guardarraya. These six areas occur in a string of hills that extend for up to 15 km from the processing plant and lie at between 200 and 600 m above sea level. The lateritic ore below the overburden averages 7 m in thickness, but varies from a few metres to 40 m. The deposits were developed over serpentinised ultramafic rocks, with weathering and lateritisation commencing during the Miocene uplift. Repeated uplifts have led to at least four physiographic cycles and the development of a mature lateritic profile. The complete profile is sub-divided from top to bottom into: Zone A - a chocolate-brown limonite; Zone B - ochre brown limonite; Zone C - soft serpentine; Zone D - hard serpentine; Zone E - serpentinised peridotite; and Zone F - ultramafic rock. Zones A and F are rarely ore grade. The rocky ore of Zones D and E account for 40% of the total ore reserves while limonite ore of Zone B is 25% of the reserves. Nickeliferous serpentine is the major crystalline phase of Zone C. In this zone and deeper, crystalline quartz is found, particularly in fracture zones where it is often accompanied by garnierite. The proven and probable reserve in 1999 was 68 mt @ 1.18% Ni, with a further 19 mt @ 1.15% Ni in resource. The original pre-mining reserve in 1971 was 66 mt @ 1.58% Ni. Annual production capacity is around 2.7 mt of ore. The bedrock is composed of extensively serpentinised ultra-mafics with 0.15 to 0.35%, but averaging 0.28% Ni, 5.2% Fe, 0.02% Co. Cash operating costs in 1998 were USD 1.82/lb Ni.

Return to top

Cerro Matoso - Colombia

The Cerro Matoso deposit in Colombia is located some 20 km to the south-west of the town of Montelibano in the Department of Cordoba on the western side of the Andes, and approximately 400 km north of the capital Bogota. It takes the form of a blanket on a 2500 m long oval shaped hill that rises some 200 m above the surrounding countryside. The ore is capped by a layer of lateritic soil that is usually overlain by a variable layer of ferruginous canga. The ore comprises a zone of saprolite and saprolitised peridotite. The footwall is un-weathered peridotite. In 1999 proven+probable reserves were more than 35 million tonnes at 2.3% Ni using a 1.5% Ni cut-off, and up to 60 mt at a 1% Ni cutoff. As such it is one of the highest grade lateritic nickel deposits in the world. The mine and ferro-nickel plant are operated by Cerro Matoso S.A., a subsidiary of the Billiton group.

Return to top


Other Major Deposits in the Caribbean

Punta Gorda / Moa Bay - Cuba

The Punta Gorda and Moa Bay deposits are both in the Moa Bay area and are both part of the same laterite sheet. Punta Gorda is a Cuban mine, while the Moa Bay Operation is managed by the General Nickel Company S.A. (50% Sherritt International Corporation - which has been involved in the project since 1990). These deposits are part of a larger province of nickel laterites in eastern Cuba that is estimated to contain at least 1200 mt @ 1.3% Ni (also including Pinares de Mayari and Nicaro below). The total contained Ni resource of Cuba is of the order of 27 mt. The proven + probable resource at Moa Bay in 1998 was 60 mt @ 1.27% Ni. Production in 1997 amounted to 26 500 t of Ni and Co from an acid pressure leach plant. The reserves at Punta Gorda, which have been quoted at 310 mt @ 1.3% Ni, 0.11% Co, is treated by an ammonia leach process. The ore is predominantly composed of a thick limonitic layer that is mined by dragline. It overlies a thin saprolite that is unsuitable for the acid leach processing (due largely to its high MgO content) and hence is not mined nor is it included in reserves. In general the profile comprises a thin (1 to 15 m thick dark brown iron cap of laterite and iron concretions containing <1% Ni, but 50 to 55% Fe) overlying the main limonite ore that may be around 1 to 40 m thick, averaging 10 m, of yellow and yellow-brown ochreous laterite with 1.3 to 1.4% Ni, 0.10 to 0.13% Co, 45 to 50% Fe, 7% SiO2, 2% MgO. This in turn overlies around 1 to 15 m of saprolite and sap-rock comprising yellow and yellow-green ochreous material with disintegrated and partially decomposed serpentinite containing 1.5 to 1.8% Ni, 20 to 25% Fe, 30 to 35% SiO2, 15 to 20% MgO. Locally the profile may be as thick as 50 m. The Moa Bay deposit is located on the eastern margin of a 1500 km2 mass of serpentinised Cretaceous peridotites. The original weathering surface had an irregular relief and laterites formed on rises and slopes were periodically transported to lower zones, covering earlier formed laterites. These transported laterites are well stratified and sorted. Similar accumulations on slopes are not stratified and may have been mud-slides. The lateritic processes have further modified the layers of re-deposited laterite. This re-deposition resulted in an enhanced thickness of laterite, in contrast to Pinares de Mayari which was deposited on a higher peneplain.

NOTE: During the feasibility stage of the tour planning it was intended to include this deposit on the Nickel 2000 tour itinerary. However logisitical considerations precluded it. The details and literature references however were still provided to the tour participants as part of the tour information provided on lateritic nickel. Moa Bay, Punta Gordo and the other lateritic nickel deposits of Cuba were also covered by an expert workshop in Santo Domingo as part of the tour.

Return to top

Nicaro - Cuba

The Nicaro deposit is located to the north of Moa Bay and has a reserve of just under 60 mt @ 1.14% Ni, 0.1% Co. It lies adjacent to the undeveloped Pinares de Mayari resource on the western side of the main Cretaceous peridotite mass and has a resources of around 200 mt @ 1% Ni, 0.1% Co. Nicaro varies from Moa Bay to the east in that it has a more varied and complex lateritic profile with more nontronitic saprolite ore having been developed. In contrast to the Moa Bay and Pinares de Mayari deposits, the main part of the serpentinite mass at Nicaro was covered during the Tertiary by carbonate sediments. This resulted in modification of the serpentinite by ground waters and the development of carbonated serpentinite, but no change in the 0.12 to 0.24% Ni content. After the erosion of the carbonate sediments, lateritisation proceeded normally near the surface, although at greater depths the presence of carbonates in the serpentinites produced more alkaline conditions. This has been interpreted as the main influence of the development of a nontronitic zone with the bulk of the nickel ore. Iron is less well developed in this zone with <20% Fe associated with 1 to 3% Ni. No Fe or Ni accumulations are found below the nontronitic zone. Nicaro is also in a zone of well developed valleys which have eroded, transported and re-deposited laterites and saprolite which have an irregular and lensoid geometry. Four generalised levels are defined at Nicaro, namely an upper 0 to 8 m thick dark brown iron cap laterite with ferruginous concretions and 0.5% Ni, 43% Fe; a second layer of yellow and yellow-brown ochreous laterites from 1 to 30 m thick containing zones of both ore grade 1.3% Ni, 42% Fe and non-industrial 0.8% Ni, 42% Fe; a third layer of yellow and yellow-green clay saprolites with 1.5% Ni, 16% Fe, containing soft grey-green serpentinite fragments; and a lower 0 to 40 m thick irregular band of barren soft weathered green-grey serpentinite overlying fresh bedrock.

NOTE: During the feasibility stage of the tour planning it was intended to include this deposit on the Nickel 2000 tour itinerary. However logisitical considerations precluded it. The details and literature references however were still provided to the tour participants as part of the tour information provided on lateritic nickel. Nicaro and the other lateritic nickel deposits of Cuba were also covered by an expert workshop in Santo Domingo as part of the tour.

Return to top

Porter GeoConsultancy Home Page | More on This Tour | Other Tours | New Tours | About AMF

For more information contact:   T M (Mike) Porter, of Porter GeoConsultancy   (mike.porter@portergeo.com.au)

This was another of the International Study Tours designed, developed, organised and escorted by T M (Mike) Porter of Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd (PGC) in joint venture with the Australian Mineral Foundation (AMF).  While the reputation and support of the AMF contributed to the establishment of the tours, after it ceased trading at the end of 2001, PGC has continued to develop, organise and manage the tour series.

Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd
6 Beatty Street
LINDEN PARK 5065
South Australia
Telephone: +61 8 8379 7397
Mobile: +61 422 791 776
.
PGC Logo
Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd
 International Study Tours
     Tour photo albums
 Ore deposit database
 Conferences
 Experience
PGC Publishing
 Our books  &  bookshop
     Iron oxide copper-gold series
     Super-porphyry series
     Porhyry & Hydrothermal Cu-Au
 Ore deposit literature
 
 Contact  
 What's new
 Site map
 FacebookLinkedin