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Cawse Ni Mine, Ora Banda Goldfield, Kalgoorlie-Boulder Shire, Western Australia, Australiai
Regional Level Types
Cawse Ni MineMine
Ora Banda GoldfieldOre Field
Kalgoorlie-Boulder ShireShire
Western AustraliaState

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 30° 22' 53'' South , 121° 9' 33'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -30.38159,121.15937
GeoHash:G#: qdw5jj1w3
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:BSh : Hot semi-arid (steppe) climate

The Cawse nickel mine is 9 kilometres east of Ora Banda, and 1 kilometres north of the Ora Banda-Broad Arrow Road. The site contains a High Pressure Acid Leach processing plant, several shallow to 60 metre deep pits on a north-south trend, a small pit one kilometre further north called Cawse North.

The location is on the western limb of the Googarrie-Mt Pleasant Anticline in the Ora Banda Domain. Oxide ores are found in limonite, talc, and siliceous cobalt, and smectite-saprolite ore (nontronite).

Liminotic clay contains variable proportions of vuggy goethitic silica containing 0.4% to 1.5% Ni. The higher the silica content the lower the Ni grades. Cobalt is 0.01% to 0.3%, at which point manganese stains the silica.

Siliceous cobalt mineralisation is 5% of the measured resource, occurring in a 1 to 6 metre thick horizontal layers in the upper weathered zone, characterised by dark blue to black siliceous rock with abundant manganese oxides such as todorokite, chalcophanite and cryptomelane. The cobalt grade is 0.3 to 0.7%, and Ni 0.5% to 5 %.

Talc mineralisation is found throughout the weathered profile proximal to the talc chlorite shear structures. Ni is 1 to 2%, with high Mg level at 8 to 15%.

Veteran prospector Robert Gardner purchased the mine through his Wingstar Investments in 2014. Gardner came to fame as one of the discoverers of the Evening Star gold nugget at 520 ounces in the early 1990's. He went on to invest in several gold mining companies, and is chairman of Nickelore which holds tenements bordering the Cawse mine.

The mine was developed by Centaur Mining and Exploration Limited. Much has been written about the initial failure of the processing of laterite nickel in Western Australia, particularly at Murrin Murrin and Bulong. The process involves subjecting the ore to high temperature and pressure sulphuric acid. The dry nontronite clays have a habit of clogging the system, precipitating gypsum requiring the plant to be closed to clean clogged pipes of calcium, and the acid corrodes parts of the plants. Cawse did better than the other two locations, but Centaur still sank under a sea of debt.

The OM Group purchased the mine. Cawse became part of Russian based Norilsk Nickel in March 2007, as part of its acquisition of the OM Group. Nickel concentrates were being shipped to its Harjavalta refinery in Finland. 1400 tonnes of nickel concentrate was produced in 2008, but operations have since been suspended due to low nickel prices.

Regions containing this locality

Australian Plate (Australia Plate)Tectonic Plate
West Australian Element, Western Australia, AustraliaCraton
Yilgarn Craton, Western Australia, AustraliaCraton
Kambalda Nickel Metallogenic Province, Western Australia, AustraliaGeologic Province

Select Mineral List Type

Standard Detailed Strunz Dana Chemical Elements

Commodity List

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

Mineral List

6 valid minerals.

Rock Types Recorded

Note: this is a very new system on mindat.org and data is currently VERY limited. Please bear with us while we work towards adding this information!

Select Rock List Type

Alphabetical List Tree Diagram

Detailed Mineral List:

Formula: (Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
'Chlorite Group'
Formula: K(Mn4+7Mn3+)O16
Formula: α-Fe3+O(OH)
Formula: (Fe,O,OH,H2O)
'Manganese Oxides'
Formula: Na0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
'Smectite Group'
Formula: A0.3D2-3[T4O10]Z2 · nH2O
Formula: Mg3Si4O10(OH)2
Formula: (Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O

List of minerals arranged by Strunz 10th Edition classification

Group 4 - Oxides and Hydroxides
Chalcophanite4.FL.20(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
Todorokite4.DK.10(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Group 9 - Silicates
Nontronite9.EC.40Na0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
Unclassified Minerals, Rocks, etc.
'Chlorite Group'-
'Manganese Oxides'-
'Smectite Group'-A0.3D2-3[T4O10]Z2 · nH2O

List of minerals arranged by Dana 8th Edition classification

Chalcophanite7.8.2.1(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
Todorokite7.8.1.1(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Group 71 - PHYLLOSILICATES Sheets of Six-Membered Rings
Sheets of 6-membered rings with 2:1 layers
Sheets of 6-membered rings with 2:1 clays
Nontronite71.3.1a.3Na0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
Unclassified Minerals, Mixtures, etc.
'Chlorite Group'-
'Manganese Oxides'-
'Smectite Group'-A0.3D2-3[T4O10]Z2 · nH2O

List of minerals for each chemical element

H Limonite(Fe,O,OH,H2O)
H TalcMg3Si4O10(OH)2
H Smectite GroupA0.3D2-3[T4O10]Z2 · nH2O
H NontroniteNa0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
H Chalcophanite(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
H Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
H Goethiteα-Fe3+O(OH)
O Limonite(Fe,O,OH,H2O)
O TalcMg3Si4O10(OH)2
O Smectite GroupA0.3D2-3[T4O10]Z2 · nH2O
O NontroniteNa0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
O Chalcophanite(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
O CryptomelaneK(Mn74+Mn3+)O16
O Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
O Goethiteα-Fe3+O(OH)
Na NontroniteNa0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
Na Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Mg TalcMg3Si4O10(OH)2
Mg Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Al NontroniteNa0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
Al Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Si TalcMg3Si4O10(OH)2
Si NontroniteNa0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
K CryptomelaneK(Mn74+Mn3+)O16
K Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Ca Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Mn Chalcophanite(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
Mn CryptomelaneK(Mn74+Mn3+)O16
Mn Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Fe Limonite(Fe,O,OH,H2O)
Fe NontroniteNa0.3Fe2((Si,Al)4O10)(OH)2 · nH2O
Fe Chalcophanite(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
Fe Goethiteα-Fe3+O(OH)
Zn Chalcophanite(Zn,Fe,Mn)Mn3O7 · 3H2O
Sr Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O
Ba Todorokite(Na,Ca,K,Ba,Sr)1-x(Mn,Mg,Al)6O12 · 3-4H2O

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

Neoarchean - Mesoarchean
2500 - 3200 Ma

ID: 3187503
Archean intrusive rocks

Age: Archean (2500 - 3200 Ma)

Comments: Yilgarn Craton

Lithology: Intrusive igneous rocks

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]

2500 - 4000 Ma

ID: 909763
Cawse Monzogranite

Age: Archean (2500 - 4000 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Cawse Monzogranite

Description: Coarse-grained, equigranular, biotite bearing monzogranite; High Ca granite.

Comments: igneous felsic intrusive; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Igneous felsic intrusive

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]

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


Sort by

Year (asc) Year (desc) Author (A-Z) Author (Z-A)
The West Australian newspaper (2014), Gardner Buys Cawse, Avalon, 23/05/2014
Sykes, T. (2003), For Sale: Plagued Nickel Project, Pierpoint, 06/06/2003
Sudol, S. (2005), The Thunder from Downunder- A History of Nickel Laterites, Canadian Mining Journal, August 2005

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