The Latowu Ultramafic Rock-Hosted Iron Mineralization in the Southeastern Arm Sulawesi, Indonesia: Characteristics, Origin, and Implication for Beneficiation

- Sufriadin, Sri Widodo, Meinarni Thamrin, Akane Ito, Tsubasa Otake


Latowu ultramafic block in the Southeastern Arm Sulawesi locally hosts elevated concentrations of Fe in addition to Ni. We investigated both host rock and mineralized samples' mineralogy and chemistry to find out mineralogical and chemical characteristics and interpret the iron mineralization process with beneficiation implications. The mineralogical nature of the samples was analyzed using optical microscopy and X-ray diffractometry (XRD) methods. The whole-rock and mineral chemistry analyses were performed using X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy and electron probe microanalysis (EPMA) techniques. The analysis showed that the ultramafic rocks had been undergone a strong to complete serpentinization degree where lizardite appears to be the predominant mineral. Magnetite in this research comprised the principal iron-bearing mineral and functioned as discrete fine-grains and subhedral to anhedral crystals. Magnetite occurs as fragments in breccia, alteration rim in spinel, fine-grained disseminations, and micro veins. This research found that the whole-rock chemistry of an ultramafic breccia showed an elevated concentration in Fe2O3 with a grade of 28.44 wt%. Electron probe analysis of magnetite shows a wide variation of Fe ranging from 31.10 wt% to 67.20 wt%. It is interpreted that the formation of magnetite within ultramafic rocks is influenced by the hydration of primary minerals, mainly olivine. Iron is most likely released from olivine or pyroxene crystals during serpentinization, and the higher water content of serpentine promotes its mobility. It is suggested that the magnetic separation method can be potentially used to increase the Fe grade.


Serpentine; ultramafic rocks; magnetite; iron ore; lizardite.

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