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Nifty Cu Mine, Rudall River District, East Pilbara Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 21° 39' 56'' South , 121° 35' 37'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -21.66556,121.59364
GeoHash:G#: qsnkwzvuc
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:BWh : Hot deserts climate

Located about 68.5 kms West of Telfer, SSE of Port Hedland.

Potentially this mine could provide a major source of fine secondary copper specimens to the collector market, if only the mine operators could see the value of such an exercise. Like many copper deposits in arid areas, the oxidised zone has retained an abundance of species.

The mine is located on the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert, 70 kilometres west of the Telfer gold mine. Access is via a private road from the Woodie Woodie manganese mine, to the west. It is approximately 450 kilometres south east of Port Hedland.

Surface evidence was difficult to locate due to the over-lying sand dunes, but a malachite stained outcrop was discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1981. Drilling by 1983 had identified a deep sulphide resource, and Western Mining started open pit mining of the oxide zone. Straits Resources purchased the mine in 1998, and then Aditya Birla Minerals in 2003. Open pit mining of the chalcocite ore ceased in 2006, and underground mining of the chalcopyrite ore started in 2009. The expected mine life is at least nine years. The ore is trucked to Port Hedland, then shipped to India to be processed. The company is also exploring the Maroochydore copper deposit to the south east.

The Nifty deposit is hosted by the late proterozoic (1700 Ma) Broadhurst Formation, which is part of the Yeneena Group. Zones are from bottom up: footwall- thinly laminated carbonaceous pyritic shale, micaceous and chloritic siltstone and minor light grey dolomitic mudstone; Nifty Member- 40-70 metres of dolomitic mudstone interbedded with carbonaceous shale and quartz dolomite alterations; 4 metres of grey black chloritic shale with pseudomorphs after evaporite rosettes; Pyritic Marker Bed- 25-60 metres of blue black carbonaceous shales with abundant pyrite; Hanging Wall- beds of laminated dark grey to black pyritic carbonaceous silts and shales. Most of the primary and secondary mineralisation is in the Nifty Member, extending up to 40 metres into the hanging wall.

Copper mineralisation is thought to have occurred from regional compression, resulting in hot, saline, slightly acidic ground-water, increasing the pH, precipitating copper. This is found in sheets to 20 cm across and 2mm thick matching the shale bedding planes. It is also found as pods, stringers and vein networks. Calcite and cuprite is found in association with the copper in these networks. Cuprite is said to be abundant.

The oxidised zone extends from the surface to 100 metres, and is dominated by malachite and azurite, with minor atacamite, and chrysocolla. There is then a transitional zone of native copper with malachite and azurite, and minor chalcocite below this at the current water table. Below this is high grade chalcocite as the primary sulphide. In this last zone is the Nifty Member containing chalcocite, pyrite, sphalerite, galena, and trace pyrrhotite. The malachite comes in a variety of habits, including mats of fine acicular crystals, and flattened sheaves up to 3mm long. Groups of malachite crystals are found associated with doubly terminated clear drusy quartz crystals.

The species found is similar to Telfer, both sharing similar geology and formation processes. Unlike Telfer, no gold is found at Nifty. No phosphate species are found at Telfer.

In 2000, staff from the Western Australian Museum were able to access the oxidised ore stockpiles, and collected a treasure trove of specimens. Mark Creasy and David Vaughan hold specimens that somehow found their way into the Blair Gartrell Collection in the early days of exploration. Specimens beyond this in private collections are unknown, but probably rare. If they do exist, the owners are likely to keep quiet about it till well after the mine has closed.

Commodity List

This is a list of exploitable or exploited mineral commodities recorded at this locality.

Mineral List

27 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

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Regional Geology

This geological map and associated information on rock units at or nearby to the coordinates given for this locality is based on relatively small scale geological maps provided by various national Geological Surveys. This does not necessarily represent the complete geology at this locality but it gives a background for the region in which it is found.

Click on geological units on the map for more information. Click here to view full-screen map on Macrostrat.org

Quaternary - Cenozoic
0 - 66 Ma

ID: 758736
dunes 38496

Age: Cenozoic (0 - 66 Ma)

Description: Dunes, sandplain with dunes and swales; may include numerous interdune claypans; may be locally gypsiferous

Comments: regolith; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Regolith

Reference: Raymond, O.L., Liu, S., Gallagher, R., Zhang, W., Highet, L.M. Surface Geology of Australia 1:1 million scale dataset 2012 edition. Commonwealth of Australia (Geoscience Australia). [5]

541 - 1000 Ma

ID: 3186673
Neoproterozoic sedimentary rocks

Age: Neoproterozoic (541 - 1000 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Savory Group

Comments: Savory Basin

Lithology: Shale,sandstone,glacial deposits,conglomerate

Reference: Chorlton, L.B. Generalized geology of the world: bedrock domains and major faults in GIS format: a small-scale world geology map with an extended geological attribute database. doi: 10.4095/223767. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 5529. [154]

Data and map coding provided by Macrostrat.org, used under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

This page contains all mineral locality references listed on mindat.org. This does not claim to be a complete list. If you know of more minerals from this site, please register so you can add to our database. This locality information is for reference purposes only. You should never attempt to visit any sites listed in mindat.org without first ensuring that you have the permission of the land and/or mineral rights holders for access and that you are aware of all safety precautions necessary.


Sort by Year (asc) | by Year (desc) | by Author (A-Z) | by Author (Z-A)
Downes, P.J., Shields, P., Bevan, A.W.R. (2002) A suite of secondary minerals from the Nifty copper mine, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Mineralogy, 8:2, 47-54.
Carver, R.N. (2004) Nifty Copper Deposit. Gcxplore Pty Ltd, CRC LEME, (2004).
Downes, P.J., Hope, M., Bevan, A.W.R., Henry, D.A. (2006) Chalcocite and associated secondary minerals from the Telfer gold mine, Western Australia. Australian Journal of Mineralogy, 12:1, 25-42.

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