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The Proterozoic, albitite-hosted, Valhalla uranium deposit, Queensland, Australia: a description of the alteration assemblage associated with uranium mineralisation in diamond drill hole V39

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Abstract

The Valhalla uranium deposit, located 40 km north of Mount Isa, Queensland, Australia, is an albitite-hosted, Mesoproterozoic U deposit similar to albitite-hosted uranium deposits in the Ukraine, Sweden, Brazil and Guyana. Uranium mineralisation is hosted by a thick package of interbedded fine-grained sandstones, arkoses and gritty siltstones that are bound by metabasalts belonging to the ca. 1,780 Ma Eastern Creek Volcanics in the Western Succession of the Mount Isa basin. Alteration associated with U mineralisation can be divided into an early, main and late stage. The early stage is dominated by laminated and intensely altered rock comprising albite, reibeckite, calcite, (titano)magnetite ± brannerite. The main stage of mineralisation is dominated by brecciated and intensely altered rocks that comprise laminated and intensely altered rock cemented by brannerite, apatite, (uranoan)-zircon, uraninite, anatase, albite, reibeckite, calcite and hematite. The late stage of mineralisation comprises uraninite, red hematite, dolomite, calcite, chlorite, quartz and Pb-, Fe-, Cu-sulfides. Brannerite has U–Pb and Pb–Pb ages that indicate formation between 1,555 and 1,510 Ma, with significant Pb loss evident at ca. 1,200 Ma, coincident with the assemblage of Rodinia. The oldest ages of the brannerite overlap with 40Ar/39Ar ages of 1,533 ± 9 Ma and 1,551 ± 7 Ma from early and main-stage reibeckite and are interpreted to represent the timing of formation of the deposit. These ages coincide with the timing of peak metamorphism in the Mount Isa area during the Isan Orogeny. Lithogeochemical assessment of whole rock data that includes mineralised and unmineralised samples from the greater Mount Isa district reveals that mineralisation involved the removal of K, Ba and Si and the addition of Na, Ca, U, V, Zr, P, Sr, F and Y. U/Th ratios indicate that the ore-forming fluid was oxidised, whereas the crystal chemistry of apatite and reibeckite within the ore zone suggests that F and \( {\text{PO}}^{{3 - }}_{4} \) were important ore-transporting complexes. δ18O values of co-existing calcite and reibeckite indicate that mineralisation occurred between 340 and 380°C and involved a fluid having δ18Ofluid values between 6.5 and 8.6‰. Reibeckite δD values reveal that the ore fluid had a δDfluid value between −98 and −54‰. The mineral assemblages associated with early and main stages of alteration, plus δ18Ofluid and δDfluid values, and timing of the U mineralisation are all very similar to those associated with Na–Ca alteration in the Eastern Succession of the Mount Isa basin, where a magmatic fluid is favoured for this style of alteration. However, isotopic data from Valhalla is also consistent with that from the nearby Mount Isa Cu deposit where a basinal brine is proposed for the transport of metals to the deposit. Based on the evidence to hand, the source fluids could have been derived from either or both the metasediments that underlie the Eastern Creek Volcanics or magmatism that is manifest in the Mount Isa area as small pegmatite dykes that intruded during the Isan Orogeny.

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Acknowledgements

This paper was jointly funded by Cameco Corporation, and an NSERC Collaborative Research Development grant to TKK. We are indebted to Alan Eggers of Summit Resources who permitted collection of drill core from the core storage facility in Mount Isa. The authors would like to thank Kurt Barnett for field assistance. Peter Jones and Lew Ling kindly assisted with the electron microprobe analyses at Carleton University, Ottawa. Kerry Klassen, April Vulletich, Don Chipley and Paul Alexander are thanked for help with stable and radiogenic isotope analyses at the Queen’s University Facility for Isotope Research. The authors would like to thank Nick Oliver, Michel Cuney and Gary Davidson for their constructive comments that helped to improve the clarity and focus of this paper.

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Correspondence to Paul A. Polito.

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Editorial handling: V. Bouchet

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Polito, P.A., Kyser, T.K. & Stanley, C. The Proterozoic, albitite-hosted, Valhalla uranium deposit, Queensland, Australia: a description of the alteration assemblage associated with uranium mineralisation in diamond drill hole V39. Miner Deposita 44, 11–40 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00126-007-0162-2

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Keywords

  • Proterozoic
  • Uranium
  • Brannerite
  • Zircon
  • Albitite
  • Sodic
  • Isotope geochemistry
  • Mount Isa