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Palabora mine (Foscor open pit; PMC mine), Loolekop, Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, South Africa
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Latitude: 23°59'S
Longitude: 31°4'E
 
 
A copper-(U-)(Zr-)apatite-vermiculite mine located near Phalaborwa in Limpopo Province (previously NE Transvaal). Apatite production occurred 1932-1934. Vermiculite production began 1946. Copper mining commenced 1965 and was fully operational by 1967.

Ore is in the Palabora carbonatite complex. The largest open pit mine in South Africa. Owned by Palabora Mining Company, Ltd.; RTZ (Manager).

The Phalaborwa Complex covers an area of 1950 hectares and it consists mainly of a phlogopite- and apatite rich pyroxenite. This pyroxenite is intruded successively by a series of more differentiated rocks - foskorite (phoscorite), and olivine- magnetite- apatite- phlogophite rock and finally a central intrustion of sövite (transgressive carbonatite). The sövite intrusion shows an intimate relationship with foskorite. The sövite (50 hectares at the surface) is composed of calcite and magnetite with minor amounts of dolomite, apatite, chalcopyrite, bornite and various silicates. Furthermore uraninite-thorianite and baddeleyite are important accessory minerals. The sövite is being mined by large scale opencast methods mainly for copper with uranium, zirconium and minute amounts of platinum as by-products. The foskorite is mined for the extraction of phosphate. The resources of apatite from the foskorite and the pyroxenite are enormous.

Mineral List

Aegirine
Analcime
Antigorite
'Apatite'
Argentopentlandite
Arsenopalladinite
Atokite
Baddeleyite
Baryte
'Biotite'
Bornite
Brucite
Cabriite
Calcite
Celestine
'Chabazite'
Chalcocite
Chalcopyrite
Chondrodite
Clinochlore
Covellite
Cubanite
Cuprite
Datolite
Dolomite
Fluoborite
Fluorapatite
Fluorapophyllite-(K)
Fluorite
Froodite
Galena
Geikielite
Gold
var: Electrum
Hessite
'Heulandite'
Hydrotalcite
Ilmenite
Iowaite
Jalpaite
Laumontite
Linnaeite
Mackinawite
Magnesite
Magnetite
Majakite
Malachite
Marcasite
Mertieite-II
Mesolite
Millerite
'Monazite'
Natrolite
Naumannite
'Olivine'
Pectolite
Pentlandite
Phlogopite
Portlandite
Prehnite
Pyrite
var: Bravoite
Pyrrhotite
Quartz
Saponite
Scolecite
'Serpentine Group'
Siegenite
Silver
Silver
var: Küstelite

Sperrylite
Sphalerite
Stilbite-Ca
Stromeyerite
Strontianite
Taimyrite-I
Talnakhite
Tetra-auricupride
Tetrahedrite
Thomsonite-Ca
Thorianite
var: Uranothorianite
Uraninite
Valleriite
Vermiculite
Violarite
Xonotlite
Zircon
Zirconolite
var: Niobozirconolite
Zirkelite


91 entries listed. 79 valid minerals.

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References

Hanekom, H. J., Van Staden, C. M., Smit, P. J., & Pike, D. R., (1965) The geology of the Phalaborwa igneous complex. Memoir Geological Society of South Africa. 54, 185pp.

Herbert, I. C., (1967) Palabora. Mining Magazine 116, 4-5, 7, 9-11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25.

Frick, C. (1975) The Phalaborwa syenite intrusion. Transactions Geological Society of South Africa. 78, 201-213.

Mining Annual Review (1985): 411.

Verwoerd, W. J., (1986) Mineral deposits associated with carbonatites and alkaline rocks. In: Mineral deposits of Southern Africa. Vol. II. 2173-2191. Edited by: Annhaeusser and Maske. Geological Society of South Africa.

Gliddon, J.P & Braithwaite, R. S. W., (1991) Zeolites and Associated Minerals from the Palabora Mine Transvaal. Mineralogical Record 22(4) 255-262.

Cairncross, B. and Dixon, R., (1995) Minerals of South Africa. The Geological Society of South Africa.

Karchevskii, P. I., (2000) Minerals of Sr and REE in carbonatites from Loolekop deposit (Palabora, RSA). Zapiski Vserossiiskogo Mineralogicheskogo Obshchestva 129, 99-109.

Groves, D. I., & Vielreicher, N. M., (2001) The Phalabowra (Palabora) carbonatite-hosted magnetite-copper sulfide deposit, South Africa: an end-member of the iron-oxide copper-gold-rare earth element deposit group? Mineralium Deposita 36, 189-194.


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