Supergene Gold Mineralogy at Ashanti, Ghana: Implications for the Supergene Behaviour of Gold

R. J. Bowell*
Department of Geology, The University, Southampton SO9 5NH
*Present address: Department of Mineralogy, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD.

Abstract: At the Ashanti concession, Ghana, gold-bearing quartz veins and disseminated sulphide lodes occur in narrow (1–3 m) shear zones with altered argillites and metatholeiite host rocks. The mineralisation is concealed by up to 10 m of kaolinite-mica forest ochrosol soils, beneath which is a saprolitic zone of leached rock extending down 60–70 m to the hypogene ore zone. In the unweathered hypogene orebody, gold occurs as free grains in quartz, as sub-microscopic inclusions in the disseminated arsenopyrite, as gold tellurides and as aurostibite. The gold is released from the hypogene orebody by physical dissaggregation and chemical dissolution, the latter involving hydroxyl, thiosulphate, cyanide, and fulvate complexing. Dissolution and reprecipitation of the gold appears to have taken place largely in situ with little evidence of supergene enrichment. Consequently, the gold mineralogy of the soils is complex with residual and secondary gold grains exhibiting widely different textural and compositional characteristics. Residually enriched grains display pitted, rounded surfaces and have silver-depleted rims, while supergene gold grains are compositionally homogenous and have unpitted surfaces. The supergene grains display platelet, dendritic, irregular and octahedral habit. A fine grained spongy form of gold has also been observed from weathered telluride-bearing quartz veins. Much of the secondary gold is intergrown with iron oxides and hydroxides. The gold mineralogy of the Ashanti soils appears to be controlled by physico-chemical processes active during the lateritic pedogenesis producing residual and supergene enrichment of gold.

Keywords: gold • supergene mineralization • Ashanti • Ghana

Mineralogical Magazine; December 1992 v. 56; no. 385; p. 545-560; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1992.056.385.10
© 1992, The Mineralogical Society
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