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Minara, Murrin Murrin
Western Australia, WA, Australia
Main commodities: Ni Co

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The Murrin Murrin group of deposits are located between Leonora and Laverton, some 200 km north of Kalgoorlie, with the main processing plant some 50 km east of Leonora (#Location: 28° 46' 52"S, 121° 53' 2"E).

The deposits lie near the centre of the Archaean Norseman-Wiluna greenstone belt and is hosted within a laterite profile developed over sepentinised Archaean peridotite rocks within a sequence predominantly composed of immature feldspathic, clastic and volcaniclastic sediments related to feldspathic volcanic centres. The sequence also includes mafic volcanic and intrusive rocks and has been intruded by porphyritic granodiorite and felsic to mafic dykes.

Metamorphism, which is broadly synchronous with regional deformation, produced an assemblage ranging from prehnite-pumpellyite through greenschist to upper amphibolite. The north-south trending Murrin Murrin ultramafic rich zone is sandwiched between two regional anticlinoria to the east and west respectively. The sequence occurs as a corridor between major NNE trending, westerly dipping, strike faults which are splays off the major NW trending Keith-Kilkenny tectonic zone to the south-west, while the sequence is folded into NNE trending synclinal structure with plunge reversals related to cross-structures and the emplacement of the granitoid intrusives.

Lateritisation of the extensive ultramafic sequences in the Murrin Murrin district has resulted in enrichment of nickel and cobalt within limonite and nontronite clays in at least 10 zones / deposits.

The lateritic profile passes upwards from the unweathered ultra-mafic, through mixed saprolite and ultramafic, to siliceous saprolite, to up to 10 m of saprolite, several metres of ferruginous saprolite, overlain by an around 10 m thick profile of smectite passing up into a narrow transition ferruginous smectite and then to an upper ferruginous zone which may be around 10 m thick. The components of the profile may be summarised as follows:
The ultramafic basement is composed of fresh to slightly weathered, locally silicified ultramafic rock which has a gradational boundary with the overlying saprolite.
The saprolite zone is dominated by serpentine with lesser chlorite and smectite.
The smectite zone is the most prominent feature of the laterite profile. It is dark green to bright apple-green to chocolate to brown in colour, and locally black where manganese oxides are abundant. It consists of 90% smectite with minor chlorite, serpentine and accessory iron oxides and oxyhydroxides (goethite and hematite) and manganese-chromium oxides. The contact with the underlying saprolite is gradational over a few metres, while the upper contact is generally relatively sharp, although it may be represented by a narrow interval of ferruginous smectite clay. The upper transition zone may be host to manganese oxide rich layers and lenses.
The ferruginous zone consists of a zone of goethite and hematite containing minor clay, intermixed with ferruginous and kaolinitic clay towards its base. The upper sections comprise a less consolidated hardcap duricrust of iron oxides, while carbonate, silica and sulphate rich accumulation has locally capped the deposit with calcrete, magnesite, silcrete and gypsum.

The Ni-Co mineralisation, as indicated by a 0.5% Ni cutoff, is primarily confined to the smectite, saprolite and ferruginous smectite zones, and may be up to 25 m thick below the ferruginous zone.

Reserve and resource figures published by Minara Resources (2007) include:
    the total measure + indicated + inferred resource at December 31 2006 was 342 Mt @ 1.12% Ni, 0.066% Co, which included
    the total proved + probable reserve at the same date of 144 Mt @ 1.09% Ni, 0.087% Co.
The ore is treated by acid pressure leach hydrogen reduction autoclave technology.

Published mineral resources and ore reserves as at 31 December 2010 (Minara Resources, 2011) were:
    Measured resources - 114 Mt @ 1.03% Ni, 0.076% Co (0.8% Ni cut-off),
    Indicated resources - 106 Mt @ 0.99% Ni, 0.076% Co (0.8% Ni cut-off),
    Inferred resources - 10 Mt @ 0.94% Ni, 0.058% Co (0.8% Ni cut-off),
    Stockpiles - 38 Mt @ 1.02% Ni, 0.068% Co,
  TOTAL resources - 268 Mt @ 1.01% Ni, 0.074% Co,
    Proved reserves - 93 Mt @ 1.06% Ni, 0.082% Co,
    Probable reserves - 65 Mt @ 1.04% Ni, 0.079% Co,
  TOTAL reserves (including stockpiles) - 196 Mt @ 1.05% Ni, 0.078% Co,

The mine and pressure leach facility in 2009 to 2011 produced at a rate of ~30 000 tonnes per annum of nickel and ~2000 to 2400 tonnes of cobalt briquettes.

The Murrin Murrin project is currently (2013) operated by Minara Resources Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Glencore Xstrata.

For detail consult the reference(s) listed below.

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this decription was dated: 2007.    
This description is a summary from published sources, the chief of which are listed below.
© Copyright Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd.   Unauthorised copying, reproduction, storage or dissemination prohibited.

Murrin Murrin

  References & Additional Information
   Selected References:
Camuti K S, Riel R G  1996 - Mineralogy of the Murrin Murrin Nickel Laterites: in Grimsey E J, Neuss I, (Eds),  Nickel 96: Mineral to Market, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, 17-29 November, 1996 AusIMM Publication   Series 6/96 pp 209-210
Fazakerley V W, Monti R  1998 - Murrin Murrin Nickel-Cobalt Deposits: in Berkman D A, Mackenzie D H (Eds),  Geology of Australian and Papua New Guinean Mineral Deposits The AusIMM, Melbourne    pp 329-334
Gaudin A, Decarreau A, Noack Y and Grauby O  2005 - Clay mineralogy of the nickel laterite ore developed from serpentinised peridotites at Murrin Murrin, Western Australia: in    Australian J. of Earth Sciences   v52 pp 231-241
Monti R, Fazakerley V W  1996 - The Murrin Murrin Nickel Cobalt Project: in Grimsey E J, Neuss I, (Eds),  Nickel 96: Mineral to Market, Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, 17-29 November, 1996 AusIMM Publication   Series 6/96 pp 191-195

Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd (PorterGeo) provides access to this database at no charge.   It is largely based on scientific papers and reports in the public domain, and was current when the sources consulted were published.   While PorterGeo endeavour to ensure the information was accurate at the time of compilation and subsequent updating, PorterGeo, its employees and servants:   i). do not warrant, or make any representation regarding the use, or results of the use of the information contained herein as to its correctness, accuracy, currency, or otherwise; and   ii). expressly disclaim all liability or responsibility to any person using the information or conclusions contained herein.

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