Summary: Unusual replacement-type sulphide mineralization occurs in the northern part of the Bulong Complex, about 30 km east of Kalgoorlie, Western Australia. The mineralization is non-economic (up to 0·5% Ni, 0·4% Cu, 0·1% Co, and 8·6% S) and occurs in altered unlayered olivine-rich rocks immediately above a thin sheet-like inclusion of country rock. The supergene-modified primary opaque assemblage pyrrhotine-magnetite-pyrite-chalcopyrite-(pentlandite) is texturally unusual in that the opaques are largely pseudomorphic after primary olivine grains, mainly within irregular fracture networks in a manner similar to ‘early’ serpentine. Textural relations between opaques and silicates indicate that the mineralization was introduced during the early stages of serpentinization prior to the onset of deformation and regional metamorphism. Monoclinic pyrrhotine is the main opaque phase, with some grains containing relict cores of the hexagonal variety. Magnetite associated with the mineralization is Ni-poor (< 0·1% Ni) compared with ‘serpentinization magnetite’ from elsewhere in the Bulong Complex, which contains 0·5–0·8% Ni. As the mineralization was intersected at relatively shallow depth, supergene alteration effects are evident; pyrrhotine is locally altered to pyrite and marcasite (texturally and chemically distinct from the primary pyrite), and pentlandite is largely replaced by cupriferous violarite.
Textural features and consideration of phase relations in the system Cu-Fe-S-O suggest that the mineralization is of low-temperature (350± °C) hydrothermal origin. By contrast, the more commonly developed Fe-Ni-Cu sulphide mineralization of the Kalgoorlie region is generally considered to be of high-temperature (1200± °C) magmatic origin.