AbstractsEarth & Environmental Science

A geological, petrological and mineralogical study of the UG3 chromitite seam at Modikwa Platinum Mine : significance to exploration and PGE resources

by Nkateko Jones Machumele

Institution: Rhodes University
Department: Faculty of Science, Geology
Degree: MS
Year: 2014
Keywords: Modikwa Platinum Mine (South Africa); Chromite  – South Africa  – Limpopo; Geology  – South Africa  – Limpopo; Petrology  – South Africa  – Limpopo; Mineralogy  – South Africa  – Limpopo; Platinum mines and mining  – South Africa  – Limpopo
Record ID: 1475327
Full text PDF: http://contentpro.seals.ac.za/iii/cpro/DigitalItemViewPage.external?sp=1013553


The UG3 at Modikwa Platinum Mine occurs as a platiniferous, planar chromitite seam. It is stratigraphically located in the Upper Critical Zone of the Eastern Bushveld Complex. Field work study comprise of underground mapping, sampling, surface mapping, borehole core logging, microprobing and microscopic investigations carried out at the Rhodes University. The UG3 at the Modikwa Platinum Mine is about 22cm thick chromitite seam underlain by a white fine grained anorthosite and overlain by a brown medium grained feldspathic pyroxenite. It is an incomplete cyclic unit consisting of chromite and feldspathic pyroxenite. The UG3 reef at the Modikwa Platinum Mine lease area represents a Platinum Group Metal resource of 300 million tons of ore at an in situ grade of 2.5g/t. Under the current market conditions the UG3 reef remains unprofitable to mine in an underground operation due to the operational cost involved. However, it has been illustrated that the UG3 chromitite seam can increase profit margins in an open pit operation provided it is mined together with the economic UG2 chromitite seam. The extraction of the UG3 as ore in the four Modikwa UG2 open pits would result in a combined operating cash profit of R330 million. The UG3 chromitite seam is platiniferous. The platinum-group minerals (PGM) range in size from less than 10μm to about 70μm. The PGMs are associated with sulphides and are both located in the interstitial silicates and are concentrated in the chromitite seam. The PGMs show a strong preference to contact boundaries of the silicate grains, the chromite grains and the sulphide phases. In some instances, they are enclosed within the chromite grains in association with sulphides. The general sulphide assemblage comprises pentlandite and chalcopyrite whereas, the PGMs assemblage comprises cooperite, ferroplatinum, laurite, FeRhS and PtRhS.