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Moa Bay - Moa, Punta Gorda, Che Guevara, Las Camariocas, Pedro Soto Alba
Main commodities: Ni Co

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The Punta Gorda and Moa (also known as Pedro Soto Alba) laterite Ni-Co deposits are both in the Moa Bay area and are both part of the same laterite sheet on the northern coast of eastern Cuba (#Location: 20° 36' 40"N, 74° 57' 11"W).

Punta Gorda, Moa and associated Che Guevara and Las Camariocas operations are part of the Moa Bay complex which is managed by the Moa Joint Venture (50% Sherritt International Corporation - which has been involved in the project since 1990, and the General Nickel Company S.A. of Cuba). These mines are distributed over an area of ~10 x 6 km, and are part of a larger province of nickel laterites in eastern Cuba that is estimated to contain at least 1200 Mt @ 1.3% Ni (also including Pinares de Mayari and Nicaro). The total contained Ni resource of Cuba is of the order of 27 Mt. The proven + probable resource at Moa Bay in 1998 was 60 Mt @ 1.27% Ni. Production in 1997 amounted to 26 500 t of Ni and Co from an acid pressure leach plant.

The reserves at Punta Gorda, which have been quoted at 310 Mt @ 1.3% Ni, 0.11% Co, is treated by an ammonia leach process. The ore is predominantly composed of a thick limonitic layer that is mined by dragline. It overlies a thin saprolite that is unsuitable for the acid leach processing (due largely to its high MgO content) and hence is not mined nor is it included in reserves.

The laterite nickel deposits of Cuba are developed over an ophiolite belt along the NE coast of the island. This belt represents the suture between a now fault dislocated sheet of oceanic crust, that was obducted onto the North American plate after having been transported to the NE ahead of the advancing Caribbean Plate during the late Cretaceous.

In general the profile comprises a thin (1 to 15 m thick dark brown iron cap of laterite and iron concretions containing <1% Ni, but 50 to 55% Fe) overlying the main limonite ore that may be around 1 to 40 m thick, averaging 10 m, of yellow and yellow-brown ochreous laterite with 1.3 to 1.4% Ni, 0.10 to 0.13% Co, 45 to 50% Fe, 7% SiO2, 2% MgO. This in turn overlies around 1 to 15 m of saprolite and sap-rock comprising yellow and yellow-green ochreous material with disintegrated and partially decomposed serpentinite containing 1.5 to 1.8% Ni, 20 to 25% Fe, 30 to 35% SiO2,15 to 20% MgO. Locally the profile may be as thick as 50 m.

The Moa Bay deposit is located on the eastern margin of a 1500 sq. km mass of serpentinised Cretaceous peridotites. The original weathering surface had an irregular relief and laterites formed on rises and slopes were periodically transported to lower zones, covering earlier formed laterites. These transported laterites are well stratified and sorted. Similar accumulations on slopes are not stratified and may have been mud-slides. The lateritic processes have further modified the layers of re-deposited laterite. This re-deposition resulted in an enhanced thickness of laterite, in contrast to Pinares de Mayari which was deposited on a higher peneplain.

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this decription was dated: 2000.    
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.


  References & Additional Information
   Selected References:
de Vletter D R  1955 - How Cuban Nickel ore was Formed - A Lesson in Laterite Genesis: in    Engineering and Mining Journal   v156, no. 10, pp 84-87
Domenech, C., Gali, S., Villanova-de-Benavent, C., Soler, J.M. and Proenza, J.A.,   2017 - Reactive transport model of the formation of oxide-type Ni-laterite profiles (Punta Gorda, Moa Bay, Cuba): in    Mineralium Deposita   v.52, pp. 993-1010.
Habashi F  1993 - Nickel in Cuba: in Reddy R G, Weizenbach R N (Eds),  The Paul E Queneau International Symposium, Extractive Metallurgy of Copper, Nickel and Cobalt, The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society   v1 Fundamental Aspects pp 1165-1178
Linchenat A, Shirokova I  1964 - Individual Characteristics of the Nickeliferous Iron (Laterite) Deposits of the Northeastern Part of Cuba: in    Proc. 22nd International Geol. Congress, New Delhi, Sect. 14 - Laterites    pp 171-187

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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