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Copper Hills, Rudall River District, East Pilbara Shire, Western Australia, Australia

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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 22° 56' 18'' South , 122° 35' 57'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -22.93845,122.59924
GeoHash:G#: qezjtb4jc
Locality type:Group of Hills
Köppen climate type:BWh : Hot deserts climate

Located in the western Great Sandy Desert, in tabletop terrane of the Rudall Complex, consisting of Proterozoic schist, amphibolite and metasedimentary rocks of lower amphibolite facies. After much searching, an exploration company map places the prospect south of the Rudall River National Park boundary, south east of Mt Cotton, and possibly in the Harbutt Range. Searching for the site on the ground is not recommended due to the remote nature of the region.

The site was explored by Prosilver Pty Ltd and later Australian Platinum Mines NL, but both considered it too small to mine. The reference studied five specimens given to the CSIRO which had not been destroyed in the analytical process. As such the reference is strong on species described but there is little information about the geological setting of the deposit.

It is a small vein polymetallic deposit dominated by malachite, and containing native silver and gold, palladium, platinum and copper selenides, mercury and palladium and platinum oxides. The co-existence of four precious metals is uncommon. It is thought to have resulted from low temperature (around 140 degrees) hydrothermal high acid solutions with high salinity and low Ph, containing Cu, Pd, Pt, Au, Ag, Hg and Se elements, reacting with carbonate (dolomite) resulting in the precipitation of malachite, and the co-precipitation of selenides of the various metals. The oxides of palladium and platinum is the result of decomposition of the primary selenides.

Malachite is the dominant species at the location and comes in three forms. Bright green fine grained un-mineralised malachite intergrown with quartz and occassionally chrysocolla. Ferruginous malachite of fine grained greyish green bands intergrown with quartz and goethite, hosting finely disseminated particles of copper selenides, and occassional gold grains. Finally mineralised malachite as nodules with abundant inclusions of opaque minerals described below. This malachite is black from the included particles. Malachite in general can occur at Copper Hills as nodules, nodular fragments, aborescent fronds, balloon like forms, and irregular grains.

Berzelianite occurs as locally concentric finely disseminated bluish white grains, while umangite is the same form but the grains are slightly larger and pink. Umangite at the deposit contains Pt, Ag, Hg, and Pd in large amounts.

Naumannite forms the core of the malachite nodules, is yellowish-grey in colour. It is also minor as inclusions in native silver, and core grains rimmed by tiemannite. Large grains of naumannite have a corroded appearance and are enclosed with chalcomenite as a product of oxidised naumannite.

Chrisstanleyite is a rare species occuring in the copper bearing lode rather than gold at its type locality, and closely associated with the naumannite.

Oosterboschite was confirmed via chemical analysis. It is found only within the malachite nodules as irregular grains and veinlets. The larger grains were rimmed by a darker phase being an alteration product of oosterboschite. The species was found as disseminated small particles, large irregular grains, veinlets, aborescent fronds, and layers in the malachite nodules. The species was yellow and the alteration product grey.

Luberoite was found in the mineralised malachite and a lesser degree quartz as diffuse clouds of dispersed particles, as aborescent fronds and concentrically zoned concentrations. Cu was dominant because of the malachite host. It is a very rare species.

Native silver occurs as veinlets and irregular masses sometimes visible to the naked eye, with the silver being partially replaced by copper. It contains appreciable amounts of bromine in the malachite nodules. It was formed late in the sequence and cuts all the other minerals.

Gold is described as being abundant in the mineralised and ferruginous malachite as disseminated particles, sometimes visible to the naked eye. Occurs also as veinlets and is closely associated with the silver mineralisation.

Potarite is a relatively rare element of the platinum group, occurring here as small dispersed grains in the coarse dolomite matrix. Tiemannite is grey in colour as small irregular grains in the mineralised malachite and as rims around some grains of naumannite. Chalcomenite is alteration rims around naumannite and chrisstanleyite.

There were three un-identified species. Palladium and platinum oxides occurring as spherical and sub-spherical grains as a mixture of several phases in the mineralised malachite. A Pt-Cu hydroxide mineral as tiny transparent anisotropic crystals within some of the quartz in the malachite nodules. A Pd-Hg-Cu selenide as tiny yellow anisotropic prismatic crystals closely associated with umangite in the ferruginous malachite.

The Mindat co-ordinates are very approximate and denote only the Harbutt Range.

Mineral List

16 valid minerals.

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

Sakmarian - Gzhelian
290.1 - 303.7 Ma

ID: 763692
Paterson Formation

Age: Paleozoic (290.1 - 303.7 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Paterson Formation

Description: Poorly sorted sandstone, claystone, conglomerate, tillite, siltstone, diamictite; varves and erratics in places - glacigene, lacustrine, to fluvioglacial.

Comments: sedimentary siliciclastic; feldspar- or lithic-rich arenite to rudite; synthesis of multiple published descriptions

Lithology: Sedimentary siliciclastic; feldspar- or lithic-rich arenite to rudite

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]

1600 - 2500 Ma

ID: 3192869
Paleoproterozoic crystalline metamorphic rocks

Age: Proterozoic (1600 - 2500 Ma)

Stratigraphic Name: Rudall Complex

Comments: Paterson Orogen

Lithology: Orthogneiss/paragneiss

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)
Nickel, E.H. (2002) An Unusual Occurrence of Pd, Pt, Au, Ag, and Hg Mineralisation in the Pilbara Region of Western Australia. Canadian Mineralogist (2002):40:2, 419-433.
Paar, W.H., Makovicky, E., Sureda, R.J., De Brodtkorb, M.K., Nickel, E.H., Putz, H. (2004) Jaguéite, Cu2Pd3Se4, A new mineral species from El Chire, La Rioja, Argentina. The Canadian Mineralogist, 42:6, 1745-1755.

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