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Evaluation of the amount of rare earth elements in the Silius fluorite vein system (SE Sardinia, Italy)

Mondillo Nicola a, Balassone Giuseppina a, Boni Maria a, Marino Antonio b, Arfè Giuseppe a

 

a Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, dell’Ambiente e delle Risorse, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, Via Mezzocannone 8, 80134   Napoli, Italy

b Fluorite di Silius S.p.A. Viale Merello 14, 09023 Cagliari, Italy

PERIODICO di MINERALOGIA (2017) vol. 86(2), 87-98.

 
 
Abstract
The post-Variscan hydrothermal vein system at Silius (Southeastern Sardinia, Italy) is known mostly for its fluorite-barite-galena mineralization, which has been exploited until early 2006 and is now in maintenance. Distinct fluorspar amounts still exist in the mine, and are evaluated at 2 million tonnes of measured resource at 34.5% CaF2 (727,495 tonnes fluorspar) and 3.2% Pb (67,724 Pb tonnes in galena). Gangue carbonates of the veins, which consist of calcite and ferroan dolomite, contain the REEminerals synchysite-(Ce) and xenotime. To check the effective amounts of REE in the Silius orebody, representative samples of the carbonate gangue have been collected from several locations in the mine. ICP-MS analyses have been carried out in the samples with the aim to obtain the bulk chemical composition of the carbonates. The concentrations throughout the mine range between 462 and 2,071 ppm (951 ppm on average), mainly consisting of LREE. The average volume of the carbonate gangue still in place, which would be extracted together with fluorite and galena, is currently considered to be around 532,000 tonnes, to which more 750,000 tonnes of carbonates discarded in the old waste dumps may be added. The corresponding total REE amounts currently occurring in the Silius gangue may sum up to 1,220 tonnes pure REE. The discovery of these amounts of REE in the Silius fluorspar mine may open interesting perspectives for the exploration of subeconomic REE concentrations in this type of deposits, where REE could be recovered as by-product of the fluorite exploitation.
 
Keywords
Critical metals; Critical materials; Fluorite; Rare earth elements; Hydrothermal veins; Sardinia.