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Huangshan-Jingerquan belt - Huangshan, Huangshandong, Huangshannan, Tulaergen, Hulu, Xiangshan, Tudun
Xinjiang, China
Main commodities: Ni Cu Co

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The Huangshan-Jingerquan Ni-Cu metallogenic belt is ∼500 km long within the larger North Tianshan Orogenic Belt, which is located along the southern margin of the Central Asian Orogenic Belt. It trends ENE-WSW, centred ~40 km south of the city of Hami in the province of Xinjiang, western China. The belt includes the four large Huangshan, Huangshandong, Huangshannan and Tulaergen Ni-Cu deposits and the three medium-small deposits Hulu, Xiangshan and Tudun deposits .

To date (2022) seven sulphide deposits and >10 potentially significant prospects have been discovered in the Huangshan-Jingerquan belt, containing >1 Mt of Ni metal reserves with average grades of ~0.3 to 0.5% Ni grades (Wie, et al., 2022).

The Palaeozoic Central Asian Orogenic Belt extends from the Urals to the Pacific Ocean, bounded by the Tarim Block and North China Craton to the south and by the Siberian Craton to the north. The North Tianshan orogenic belt is located between the Junggar and Central Tianshan terranes at the southern margin of the orogenic belt. It is predominantly composed Palaeozoic sedimentary-volcanic strata and magmatic intrusions, and is divided into a western and an eastern portion on either side of the city of Urumqi (Xiao et al., 2004). The eastern half of the North Tianshan orogenic belt is made up of, from north to south, the Bogda intra-arc basin, the Dananhu-Harlik island arc and the Kangguer-Yamansu arc (Jahn et al., 2000; Xiao et al., 2004, 2008. The latter is separated from the Dananhu arc by the Kangguer fault to the north, and from the Central Tianshan by the Aqikkuduk fault in the south. These two major, ENE-WSW trending parallel faults are ~40 km apart. More than 30 mafic-ultramafic complexes have been identified between the two faults in the northern half of the Kanggur-Yamansu arc, seven of which host economic to subeconomic magmatic Ni-Cu sulphide mineralisation. Precise zircon U-Pb age dating of the sulphide-mineralised mafic-ultramafic rocks indicated that the Ni-Cu sulphide mineralisation occurred between 285 to 280 Ma (Qin et al., 2011; Song et al., 2013, 2021; Mao et al., 2018).

The Ni-Cu sulphide-mineralised Tulaergen, Hulu and Xiangshan complexes of the Huangshan-Jingerquan belt were emplaced in the middle Devonian Wutongwozi Formation that is predominantly composed of meta-tuff, slate, meta-sandstone and sericite-quartz schist. The Tudun, Huangshan, Huangshannan and Huangshandong complexes were intruded into the late Carboniferous Gandun Formation, which is composed of carbonaceous slate and meta-sandstone intercalated with limestone (Deng et al., 2021; Song et al., 2021). The three largest deposits in the belt, Huangshandong, Huangshan and Tulaergen, have been mined for decades.

The intrusions containing sulphide deposits and mineralisation are generally composed of lherzolite, websterite and harzburgite as the ultramafic facies and (olivine) gabbro, gabbronorite, norite and diorite as the mafic facies. Both the mafic and ultramafic rocks commonly contain 5 to 15 vol.% hornblende and biotite. Sharp contacts between the mafic and ultramafic facies are not attributed to magma differentiation but to intermittent emplacement of multiple pulses of magma. Most lenticular Ni-Cu sulphide ore deposits and mineralisation are commonly found at the bottom or middle of the ultramafic facies. In addition, the mafic–ultramafic intrusions emplaced in the Gandun and Wutongwozi formations have distinct lithological and geometric features. Those complexes intruded into the Gandun Formation have large scales, teardrop, rhombic or oval outlines at the surface and funnel- shaped vertical cross sections, whereas the ultramafic facies of the complexes emplaced in the Wutongwozi Formation commonly occur as steep dykes or chains of small pods, although the mafic rocks may expand into larger-scale intrusions (Lightfoot and Evans-Lamswood, 2015; Song et al., 2021).

The location of major magmatic Ni mineralisation within an orogenic belt is regarded as unusual. However, using isotope ratios, Xie et al., 2022 have indicated the crust in the region was thickened at the end of the late Carboniferous, induced by collision, and then extended during the early Permian, interpreted to suggest that post-collision extensional setting coincided with the short-lived, <5 m.y. Permian Ni-Cu sulphide deposition during the development of the Tianshan Orogenic Belt.

Key deposits include:

Huangshandong Ni-Cu deposit

The Huangshandong complex hass rhomboid-shape and is ~3.5 km long, with a maximum width of 1.2 km. U-Pb zircon ages of the Ni-Cu sulphide-mineralised lherzolite and gabbronorite of the complex range from 284.2 ±2.0 to 280.3 ±1.9 Ma (Mao et al., 2018; Song et al., 2021), whilst U-Pb zircon ages of the sulphide barren gabbros varies between from 277 and 267 Ma, suggesting the latter represents a late basaltic magmatic pulse (Han et al., 2004; Chen et al., 2013; Wang et al., 2014). The complex was emplaced into the Gandun Formation carbonaceous slate and meta-sandstone, intercalated with limestone (Deng et al., 2021). Several mineralised horizons comprising disseminated and net-textured sulphides are located at the base of the lherzolite within the Huangshandong complex, whilst a series of concave lenticular orebodies are found within the gabbronorite at the western end of the complex (Deng et al., 2014; Mao et al., 2015).
  The deposit contains 90 Mt of sulphide ores @ average grades of 0.40 wt.% Ni, 0.16 wt.% Cu, 0.024 wt.% Co (Qin et al., 2003).

Huangshan Ni-Cu deposit

The host Huangshan intrusive complex is described as having a tadpole-shape that is 3.8 km long and up to 0.8 km wide. Dating of the sulphide bearing gabbronorites and lherzolite of the complex yielded ages of 284.5 ±2.5 to 280.5 ±1.9 Ma by, (U-Pb zircon SHRIMP laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry [LA-ICP-MS], and secondary ion mass spectrometry [SIMS]; Gu et al., 2006; Qin et al., 2011; Song et al., 2021). Diorite on the eastern end of the complex was dated at 269.0 ±2.0 Ma (Zhou et al., 2004). The base of the complex dips to the west to a depth of ~1000 m, but shallows to the east. It was emplaced into the meta-sandstone and limestone of the Gandun Formation. An up to 50 m thick thermal metamorphic aureole containing cordierite and epidote surrounds the Huangshan Complex (Wang et al., 1987; D.H. Li et al., unpub. report, 1989). The main concordant sulphide body of the deposit is composed of disseminated and net-textured sulphides, and occurs at the base of the lherzolite, which is underlain by gabbronorite (Zhang et al., 2011; Mao et al., 2014; Deng et al., 2017).
  The deposit contains 80.4 Mt of sulphide ores @ an average of 0.54 wt.% Ni, 0.3 wt.% Cu, 0.03 wt.% Co (Zhou et al., 2004).

Tulaergen Ni-Cu deposit

This deposit is hosted by a small dyke composed of lherzolite, websterite and gabbro, and was emplaced in the meta-tuff and meta-sandstone of the Wutongwozi Formation. Whilst the gabbro at Tulaergen has been dated at 300.5 ±3.2 Ma (U-Pb zircon; San et al., 2010), the zircon separated from the sulphide-mineralised lherzolite was dated at 281 ±2.2 Ma (Song et al., 2021). The Ni grade is higher in the upper part of the orebody compared to the lower sections (Jiao et al., 2012; Wang et al., 2018). An Fe-rich massive ore vein is found within the disseminated ores and a Cu-rich massive orebody extends from the ultramafic dyke to the wall rock (Zhao et al., 2019). Variably sized lenticular Ni-Cu sulphide bodies in the Tulaergen deposit are composed of disseminated and net-textured sulphides are situated in the central part of the lherzolite.
  This deposit contains ~37 Mt of sulphide ores @average grades of 0.45 wt.% Ni and 0.27 wt.% Cu (Mao et al., 2008; San et al., 2010).

Distal to the deposit, some 45 km east of the Huangshandong complex, carbonaceous slate and meta-sandstone of the Gandun Formation contain <0.15 wt.% S, although carbonaceous slate and the limestone in the drill holes within the Huangshandong deposit contain up to 2.1 wt.% S. In these drill holes, the dominant sulphide in the carbonaceous slate and limestone, >200 m from the complex, is cubic pyrite. Closer to the complex, the carbonaceous slate and meta-sandstone have undergone thermal metamorphism, and the carbonaceous slate contains quartz-calcite-sulphide veins and clotty pyrrhotite with 2 to 10 modal.% sulphides, dominated by pyrrhotite and chalcopyrite but with no pyrite. Meta-sandstone and meta-tuff near the Tulaergen deposit are sulphide-barren with <0.05 wt.% S. The dominant sulphide in these metatuffs is sporadic subhedral pyrite, with rare calcite-pyrrhotites veins <30 m from the contact with the Tulaergen complex, interpreted to have formed from post-magmatic hydrothermal fluids released from the complex (Deng et al., 2022).

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this decription was dated: 2022.    
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:
Deng, Y.-F., Song, X.-Y., Xie, W., Chen, L.-M., Yu, S.-Y., Yuan, F., Hollings, P. and Wei, S.,  2022 - The Role of External Sulfur in Triggering Sulphide Immiscibility at Depth: Evidence from the Huangshan-Jingerquan Ni-Cu Metallogenic Belt, NW China: in    Econ. Geol.   v.117, pp. 1867-1879. https://doi.org/10.5382/econgeo.4928.
Song, X.-Y., Xie, W., Deng, Y.-F., Kang, J., Wang, K.-Y. and Zheng, W.-Q.,  2023 - Processes of magmatic sulfide mineralization of the Huangshan-Jingerquan Ni-Cu metallogenic belt, NW China: Insights from reviews of chalcophile elements: in    Ore Geology Reviews   v.158, 14p. doi.org/10.1016/j.oregeorev.2023.105465.
Xie, W., Lu, Y., Chen, L.-M., Song, X.-Y., Deng, Y.-F. and Zhao, Y.,  2022 - Zircon Th/U ratios suggest a post-collision extensional setting for the Permian Ni-Cu sulfide deposits in the Eastern Tianshan, NW China: in    Ore Geology Reviews   v.144, doi.org/10.1016/j.oregeorev.2022.104837.

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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