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Palabora mine (Foscor open pit; PMC mine), Loolekop, Phalaborwa, Limpopo Province, South Africa

This page kindly sponsored by Malcolm Southwood
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Latitude & Longitude (WGS84): 23° 59' 31'' South , 31° 7' 41'' East
Latitude & Longitude (decimal): -23.99204,31.12808
GeoHash:G#: kewps26u2
Other regions containing this locality:Transvaal, South Africa
Locality type:Mine
Köppen climate type:BSh : Hot semi-arid (steppe) climate

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.

The town name is Phalaborwa, the geological formation is the Phalaborwa Complex and the mine Palabora mine.

Ore is in the Phalaborwa 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- phlogopite rock and finally a central intrusion 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.

Commodity List

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

Mineral List

87 valid minerals.

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.


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Sawyer, A.R. (1892) Mining. Geological and general guide to the Murchison range. John Heywood, Amen Corner, London, 96 pages.
Hanekom, H.J., Van Staden, C.M., Smit, P.J., and Pike, D.R. (1965) The geology of the Phalaborwa igneous complex. Memoir of the 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 of the 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 and 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. and Vielreicher, N.M. (2001) The Phalaborwa (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.
Gliddon, J. (1996) Minerals of the Palabora open pit. British Micromount Society 43, 2-7.
Southwood, M. and Cairncross, B. (2017) The minerals of Palabora mine. Rocks & Minerals, 92, 426-452.

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