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TYPES OF URANIUM DEPOSITS

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Title: TYPES OF URANIUM DEPOSITS


1
TYPES OF URANIUM DEPOSITS
Virginia T. McLemore New Mexico Bureau of Geology
and Mineral Resources New Mexico Institute of
Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM
2
Outline
  • How do we classify mineral deposits?
  • Formation of uranium deposits
  • Parameters
  • Types of deposits
  • What are the major types in North America

3
HOW DO WE CLASSIFY MINERAL DEPOSITS?
4
HOW DO WE CLASSIFY MINERAL DEPOSITS?
  • Tectonics
  • Mineralogy
  • Chemistry
  • Host rock
  • Commodity
  • Form
  • Mining method
  • Orogenesis

5
Foramtion of uranium deposits
  • ore-element source
  • mineralizing fluid source
  • mobilization mechanism
  • migration mechanism and form
  • regional migration control
  • local migration control
  • internal environment (fluid character)
  • at deposition site
  • external environment (rock character) at
    deposition site
  • concentration mechanism
  • fixation mechanism
  • preservation

6
What important parameters to characterize uranium
deposits?
  • location
  • shape
  • size
  • depth
  • orientation
  • geotectonics
  • mineralogy
  • hydrology
  • boundary conditions

7
TYPES OF DEPOSITS
  • Unconformity-related deposits
  • Sandstone deposits
  • Quartz-pebble conglomerate deposits
  • Vein deposits
  • Breccia complex deposits
  • Intrusive deposits
  • Phosphorite deposits
  • Collapse breccia pipe deposits
  • Volcanic deposits
  • Surficial deposits
  • Metasomatite deposits
  • Metamorphic deposits
  • Lignite
  • Black shale deposits
  • Other types of deposits

8
Hitzman and Valenta, 2005, Economic Geology, v.
100, pp. 16571661
9
Unconformity-associated uranium deposits
10
Types of Unconformity-associated uranium deposits
  • Clay-bound Proterozoic unconformity
  • Strata-bound Proterozoic unconformity
  • Strata-bound proterozoic unconformity
  • Phanerozoic unconformity-related

11
Unconformity-associated uranium deposits
  • Massive pods, veins and/or disseminated uraninite
    associated with unconformities between
    Proterozoic siliciclastic red beds and
    metamorphic basement that includes graphitic
    metapelite and radiogenic granite.

12
Unconformity-associated uranium deposits
  • Pitchblende fills extensional features in
    reactivated fault zones and replaces matrix in
    sandstone
  • One mining district in Canada the Athabasca
    Basin - gt30 deposits /prospects - most in
    eastern ¼ of basin - produces 1/3 of worlds U

13
World Unconformity-associated U Deposits
590 Economic / potential U deposits all types
gt500 Tonnes U _at_ gt0.03 U (IAEA)
14
Distribution and value of Unconformity U
deposits in Canada
Commodities U gtgt Ni gtgtAu,Cu,PGE Resources,
Athabasca Basin (A) 553,778 Tonnes U _at_ 1.922
U (average) Up to 25 U (P2) 30,237,488,300 (30
billion) 18 deposits mined, all in
Saskatchewan Cigar Lake (2007) Cluff Lake (7),
Collins Bay (3), Eagle Pt., Key Lake (2) McArthur
R (P2), McClean Lake (2), Rabbit Lake
E
H
T
A
Hw
O
S
C
Prospective basins
15
One deposit type, two end-member fluid flows
16
One deposit type, two extremes of alteration
Quartz dissolution, e.g. Cigar Lake
Early silicification, e.g. McArthur River
17
Temporal Distribution of U Deposits
18
Summary Unconformity-associated U Deposit
Empirical Geological Model
19
Key Exploration Criteria for Unconformity-Associa
ted Uranium Deposits
  • Tectonic settings Intra-cratonic late
    collisional far-field stresses
  • Basin Repeated fault reactivation,
    paleo-valleys, hills
  • Architecture Fluvial systems, 1780-1540 Ma,
    sources lt150 km
  • Geophysics EM - graphitic basement metapelite
    need deep systems
  • AMT new deep conductors,
    resistivity maps alteration
  • Seismic maps unconformity and
    intersecting structures

20
Key Exploration Criteria for Unconformity-Associa
ted Uranium Deposits
  • Paleo-Environment Warm humid, intense
    weathering, red regolith
  • Geology Drilling, structural models faults,
    intersections
  • Modeling 1st hydrothermal fluids 1670, 2nd
    1450 Ma, remobilized
  • Hydrocarbons and pyrobitumens
    post-U (controversy).

21
Major unconformity type deposits in the world
  • Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Pine Creek Geosyncline, Northern Territory,
    Australia

22
SANDSTONE
23
(No Transcript)
24
Quartz-pebble conglomerate deposits
25
Quartz-pebble conglomerate deposits
  • Upper Archean to Lower Proterozoic age
  • consist of detrital ore minerals of uranium and
    other metals
  • pyrite
  • Interbedded within siliciclastic sequences
    containing layers of quartzite and argillite
  • mineralized conglomerates.
  • Blind River, uranium and rare earth elements base
    of the stratigraphic sequence above the
    unconformity.
  • In the Witwatersrand, uranium in multiple beds
    dispersed through a thick stratigraphic sequence
    and is recovered as a by-product of gold
    production.

26
Quartz-pebble conglomerate deposits
  • Blind River Elliot Lake, Ontario, Canada
  • Witwatersrand, South Africa

27
Veins
28
Veins
  • lenses or sheets in joints, fractures, breccias
    or stockworks.
  • pitchblende and/or coffinite
  • Size veins varies
  • spatially related to granite
  • transect metamorphic or sedimentary rocks
  • Breccia complex uranium deposits

29
Breccia complex deposits Iron oxide-copper-gold
(IOCG) deposits
30
Breccia complex deposits Iron oxide-copper-gold
(IOCG) deposits
  • Olympic Dam deposit
  • hematite-rich granite breccia
  • iron, copper, uranium, gold, silver, rare earth
    elements (mainly lanthanum and cerium) and
    fluorine
  • hydraulic fracturing, tectonic faulting, chemical
    corrosion, and gravity collapse

31
Hitzman and Valenta, 2005, Economic Geology, v.
100, pp. 16571661
32
Olympic Dam deposit in Australia
  • Measured resource of 650 million tons (Mt) of 500
    g/t U3O8 (425 ppm U), 1.5 percent Cu, and 0.5 g/t
    Au
  • Total resource approximately 3.8 billion tons of
    400 g/t U3O8 (339 ppm U), 1.1 percent Cu, and 0.5
    g/t Au.

Hitzman and Valenta, 2005, Economic Geology, v.
100, pp. 16571661
33
Barton et al, 2000
34
Surficial deposits
35
Surficial deposits
  • young (Tertiary to Recent) near-surface uranium
    concentrations in sediments or soils
  • secondary cementing minerals including calcite,
    gypsum, dolomite, ferric oxide, and halite
  • uranyl minerals or adsorbed on other materials

36
Calcrete deposits
  • uranium-rich granites were deeply weathered in a
    semi-arid to arid climate
  • valley-fill sediments along Tertiary drainage
    channels, and in playa lake sediments
  • Lake Raeside, Australia

37
Volcanic deposits
38
Volcanic deposits
  • acid volcanic rocks and are related to faults and
    shear zones within the volcanics
  • commonly associated with molybdenum and fluorine

39
Lakeview U District
225 t U3O8 production (1960s) unknown resource
remains Now an EPA Superfund site Withdrawn
from mining til 2013
Lucky Lass Mine
White King open pit
White King Mine
Dump samples as much as 0.3 U3O8 1.8 Pb 1 As
0.4 Hg also elevated Cs, Mo, Sb
Steve Castor, 2007
40
Basalt flows
1 cm
1.3 U3O8
Debris flows
U Silico- phosphate
Peraluminous flow-banded rhyolite
Breccia ore
Volcanic sediment
Clay alteration
Galena
Steve Castor, 2007
41
Uranium Mineralogy
Autunite filled fractures within volcanic
ignimbrites, Macusani Peru.
(Solex Resources Corp.)
(Strathmore Minerals Corp.)
42
Intrusive deposits
43
Intrusive deposits
  • Alaskite
  • Rössing, Namibia
  • Granite, Monzonite
  • Bingham Canyon, Utah, USA
  • Pegmatite
  • Bancroft area, Ontario, Canada
  • Peralkaline syenite
  • Kvanefjeld, Greenland
  • Carbonatites
  • Phalaborwa, South Africa

44
Phosphorite
45
Phosphorite
  • fine-grained apatite in phosphorite horizons
    within interbedded marine muds, shales,
    carbonates and sandstones
  • primary bedded (Phosphoria Formation, UtahIdaho)
  • sedimentologically reworked (Florida) phosphorite

46
Collapse breccia pipe
47
Collapse breccia pipe
  • Circular, vertical (up to 1000 metres in vertical
    extent) pipes filled with down-dropped coarse and
    fine fragments stopped from the overlying
    sediments
  • Mineralized pipes range from 30 to 200 metres in
    diameter
  • Orphan mine, Arizona, USA

48
What are the major uranium deposit types in North
America?
49
Major Uranium Deposit Types North America
  • Unconformity
  • Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan and Thelon Basin,
    NWT
  • Sandstone
  • Intermountain basins of Wyoming Colorado
    Plateau Gulf Coast Plain of Texas Grants
    Mineral Belt, New Mexico
  • Breccia Pipes
  • Northern Arizona
  • Quartz-pebble conglomerate
  • Elliot Lake
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