Lithostratigraphic correlation, mineralogy and geochemistry of the lower manganese orebody at the Kalagadi manganese mine in the Northern Cape province of South Africa.

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University of Fort Hare


The Kalagadi Manganese mine in the Kuruman area of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa contains reserves of Mn ore in excess of 100Mt. Mineralization in the mine lease area is restricted within the Hotazel Formation of the Voȅlwater Subgroup, belonging to the Postmasburg Group, the upper subdivision of the Transvaal Supergroup. Surface topography is characterized by flat lying, undulation with minimal faulting and the ore are slightly metarmophosed. This study investigates the general geology of the mine, lithostratigraphic subdivision and correlation of the economic Lower Manganese Orebody (LMO) of the Kalagadi Manganese Mine in order to guide mining plan and operations once the mine is fully commissioned. At the commencement of this study, Kalagadi Manganese mine was a project under exploration with no specific geology of the mine lease area and no lithostratigraphic subdivision. The study also aimed determining the extent of lithostratigraphic correlation between the LMO economic orebodies of the Kalagadi Manganese mine with that of underground Gloria and open-pit Mamatwan mines. Four methods including petrographic microscope, Scanning electron Microscope (SEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyses were applied mainly for the mineral identification, chemical composition and ore characterization of the Lower Manganese Orebody (LMO) at Kalagadi Manganese mine. The results of this study indicates the following: (1) Eleven textural distinct zones with economic zones restricted to the middle while the lower grade zones are confined to the top and bottom of the LMO; (2) The economic zones, comprising of Y, M, C and N subzones attain an average thickness of 10 m and are graded at an average of 40% Mn while the Mn/Fe ratio varies from 6 to 9; (3) The most economic zones are M and N subzones which are mostly characterized by oxidized ovoids and laminae, a characteristic applicable even to other zones of economic interest; (4) Braunite is the main mineral of the manganese ore and is often integrown with kutnahorite and other minerals (hematite, hausmannite, Mg-calcite, calcite, jacobsite, serpentine and garnet) which are present in variable amounts; (5) The Mg-rich calcite (Ca, Mg)CO3 is the second dominant manganese carbonate mineral and it corresponds to elevated MgO concentration and is often associated with marine environment. The occurrence of the Mgcalcite is not common in the manganese ore of this area except for the Mn-calcite, which was not determined by XRD analyses in this study; (6) MnO is the most abundant major oxide in the manganese ore while other major oxides present in decreasing order of abundance are CaO, SiO2, Fe2O3, and MgO. The oxides TiO2, Na2O, K2O, Al2O3, and Cr2O3 are depleted and are mostly  0.01wt% and  0.001wt% respectively while P2O5 concentrations are low ranging from 0.02wt% to 0.3wt%. The trace element concentrations of Ba, Zn and Sr in most borehole samples are slightly elevated ranging from 100ppm to 3.9% (36000pm) while Co, Cu, Ni, Y, As, Zr, V and La rarely exceed 50ppm. The enrichments of Cu, Zn, Ni, Co and V that are commonly associated with volcanogenic hydrothermal input in chemicals may reach up to 70ppm; (7) The mineralogical and geochemical characteristics of the manganese ore in the Kalagadi Manganese mine lease area are similar to that of Low-Grade Mamatwan-Type ore. The cyclicity (Banded Iron Formation ↔ Hematite lutite ↔ braunite lutite) and alternation of manganese and iron formation have been confirmed; and (8) The oxygen δ18O isotope values (18‰ to 22‰) indicate a slight influence of metamorphism of the manganese ore. No positive correlation exists between δ13C vs δ18O values and Mn vs δ13C values. Such observations indicate minimal action of organic carbon during manganese precipitation where the organic matter was oxidized and manganese content reduced. On the other hand, the manganese carbonates (CaO) are positively correlated with carbon isotope, this indicates diagenetic alteration, and the involvement of biogenic carbonate during the formation of manganese carbonates. It is concluded that the lithostratigraphic subdivision at Kalagadi Manganese mine is best correlated physically, mineralogically and geochemically with that of Gloria mine operating in the Low Grade Mamatwan - Type ore while correlation with an open-pit Mamatwan mine is also valid.