Geology and Geochemistry of the Águas Claras and Pico Iron Mines, Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Minas Gerais, BRAZIL

CIM Montreal 2003
Sonia Maria Barros de Oliveira, Carlos Alberto Rosière,
Abstract The Águas Claras and Pico mines are two world-class, iron-ore mines hosted within Lower- Proterozoic banded iron-formations (locally known as itabirites) of the Minas Supergroup in the Quadrilátero Ferrífero District, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The Águas Claras orebody consists of a roughly tabular-shaped lense 2,500 m long, hosted within the dolomitic itabirite of the Cauê Formation. Dolomitic itabirite is the protore of the soft high-grade iron ore, which is the main ore type of the Águas Claras orebody, representing more than 85% of the 284 Mt mined since 1973. Hematite is the main constituent of the iron ores. It occurs as martite, granular hematite and, locally, as specularite. Magnetite appears subordinately as relicts within martite and hematite crystals. Gangue minerals are very rare. These consist of dolomite, chlorite, talc and apatite, and are especially common close to the contact with the protore. This virtual absence of gangue minerals is reflected in the chemistry of ores which are characterized by very high Fe contents (an average of 68.2% Fe). The Pico orebody is a continuous ~3,000 m long body of lenticular shape hosted within quartz itabirite, which is the protore of the soft high- and low-grade ores at the Pico mine. The soft high-grade ores, together with the low-grade ores, called iron-rich itabirite, are the main types of ores at the Pico mine, respectively representing approximately 51 % and 29 % of the reserves within the pit. The iron oxide mineralogy is the same as that of the Águas Claras mine, but in different proportions. Gangue minerals are very rare in the high-grade ores, but are slightly more common in the iron-rich itabirite. Quartz is the dominant gangue mineral, and is found with minor quantities of chlorite. The chemistry of the high-grade ores is characterized by high Fe contents (an average of 67.0 %) and low P, Al2O3, and SiO2 which are concentrated in the fines. Iron rich itabirites average 58.6% Fe and 13.5% SiO2.

Keywords: Quadrilátero Ferrífero, Pico Mine, Iron Ore, Itabirite, Águas Claras mine
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