Kate Canham, Postgraduate Researcher

Controls on the metallurgy of sulfide mineralisation of the Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex

Kate CanhamContact Details

Project Overview/Outline

The Northern Limb of the Bushveld Complex, South Africa is host to one of the world’s largest resources of platinum-group elements (PGE) (McDonald and Holwell 2011), along with significant Ni, Cu and Co. These resources are all becoming increasing important for renewable energy technologies and a greener automotive industry. Thus, establishing the mineralogy and metallurgy of such a deposit is critical, not only for further exploration of this resource but also to establish more energy efficient and greener processing techniques.

PGE-Cu-Ni-Co mineralisation in the Northern Limb is found within a number of deposits located within the Lower, Critical and Main Zones. It is well accepted that both magmatic and fluid processes have played a part in developing the variable metal budget and distribution of the Northern Limb (McDonald and Holwell 2011). However, the role of these processes and their variable importance is poorly understood in the less well studied (recently discovered) mineralised zones of the deeper Critical Zone and Lower Zone hosted mineralisation, which has seen almost no mineralogical investigation.

This study will assess the post emplacement magmatic (sulfide fractionation), contamination and hydrothermal controls on mineralisation in the Critical and Lower Zones of the Northern Limb. Work will also be undertaken to understand how metallurgy varies throughout the Northern Limb and these findings will be assessed for their implications to both conventional and novel processing techniques.

This project is affiliated with the Northern Limb 4D (NL4D) consortium.

Research Theme

Solid Earth

Research Questions

  1. Can Critical Zone and Lower Zone mineralisation can be correlated along strike and down dip?
  2. Why are there zones which are PGE rich and those which are base-metal sulfide (BMS) rich?
  3. How do magmatic and fluid processes (fractionation, assimilation fluid interaction and alteration) affect metal and sulfide tenors and the metallurgical characteristics of the ore?
  4. How do metallurgical characteristics affect the amenability to processing using conventional and novel approaches?

Academic Awards

  • The East Midlands Geological Society Beryl Whittaker Award (2020), Geology Alumni Society Prize for Academic Excellence (2020), ZEISS Scholarship (2019).

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