Platinum Metals Magmatic Sulfide Ores

Science  27 Jun 1980:
Vol. 208, Issue 4451, pp. 1417-1424
DOI: 10.1126/science.208.4451.1417


Platinum-group elements (PGE) are mined predominantly from deposits that have formed by the segregation of molten iron-nickel-copper sulfides from silicate magmas. The absolute concentrations of PGE in sulfides from different deposits vary over a range of five orders of magnitude, whereas those of other chalcophile elements vary by factors of only 2 to 100. However, the relative proportions of the different PGE in a given deposit are systematically related to the nature of the parent magma. The absolute and relative concentrations of PGE in magmatic sulfides are explained in terms of the degree of partial melting of mantle peridotite required to produce the parent magma and the processes of batch equilibration and fractional segregation of sulfides. The Republic of South Africa and the U.S.S.R. together possess more than 97 percent of the world PGE reserves, but significant undeveloped resources occur in North America. The Stillwater complex in Montana is perhaps the most important example.

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