Mineralogical evolution of a weathering profile in the Tagaung Taung Ni laterite deposit: significance of smectite in the formation of high-grade Ni ore in Myanmar

Ayaka Murofushi, Tsubasa Otake, Kenzo Sanematsu, Kyaw Zay Ya, Akane Ito, Ryosuke Kikuchi, Tsutomu Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Myanmar has a drier sub-tropical climate than countries that typically contain Ni laterite deposits, but hosts a Ni laterite deposit at Tagaung Taung. Given that Ni enrichment processes in the Tagaung Taung deposit are poorly understood, we investigated the geochemical and mineralogical evolution of two weathering profiles developed on different bedrocks in the central part of Myanmar: a partly serpentinized harzburgite at Tagaung and an almost completely serpentinized peridotite at Budaung. The whole-rock geochemical data indicate that Si was retained relative to Fe and Al in the weathering profiles. Nickel has been enriched to contents as high as 4.89 wt.% NiO in the saprolite layers at Tagaung, whereas the saprolite layers at Budaung contain ≤ 1.55 wt.% NiO. Smectite is the main mineral that formed in the saprolite layers at Tagaung, whereas secondary serpentine dominates the saprolite layers at Budaung. Microscopic observations indicate that Ni-smectite (> 10 wt.% NiO), which is only observed at Tagaung, formed as a replacement product of orthopyroxene. In addition to the high Ni fixation capacity of smectite relative to secondary serpentine, Ni-rich pore water derived from the dissolution of olivine likely contributed to the high Ni contents of smectite. Our results imply that high-grade Ni laterite deposits may develop on unaltered or partly serpentinized harzburgite under the climatic conditions typical of Myanmar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1107-1122
Number of pages16
JournalMineralium Deposita
Volume57
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology

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