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The Paleoproterozoic represents one of the richest mineralized eras in geological history. The understanding of the evolution of System Earth in this era is thus of great relevance for future exploration for mineral deposits. The era hosts by far the largest concentrations of iron, manganese, platinum and chromium in the world, in addition to very large concentrations of gold, base metals, fluorspar, graphite, etc. Many of the deposits appear to be time-bounded; related to unique environmental changes like oxy-atmoversion and oxyhydroversion, and to the establishment of the first major supercontinents with associated rift zones and collisional mountain belts. The objectives of the research conducted by the Paleoproterozoic Mineralization Research Group are:
- to study and model the relationship between environmental change and styles of mineralization in the Precambrian, with a specific focus on the Paleoproterozoic Era;
- to apply this knowledge to evaluating the mineral exploration and beneficiation potential of that era (1,6 – 2,5 billion years ago) on a global scale;
- to ensure a competitive edge for industrial partners in global mineral exploration and acquisition markets by studying the temporal and spatial distribution, composition, and origin of mineral deposits, on a local and regional scale; and
- to train postgraduate students in the field of Economic Geology.
The research group is funded by THRIP/Industry, the National Research Foundation Open Research Program and UJ Faculty of Science Research Grants. Research is undertaken by a research team, each member with a specific expertise, in partnership with national and international collaborators. Scientific methods involve integrated stratigraphic, sedimentological, petrographic and tectonic studies of selected time-bounded deposits and successions, aided by petrographical, geochemical, paleomagnetic and fluid chemistry systematics.
Understanding the time-bounded events of mineralization is a major thrust for which intercontinental sequence stratigraphy, absolute age dating, geochemical trends and paleomagnetic reconstruction are essential. Characterisation of the composition of time-bounded ores in the Paleoproterozoic is an important component of the applied economic geology part of the project, to try to ensure cost-effective extraction and beneficiation of the deposits.
Details of specific PPM research projects are published in our annual report: