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Mineral potential for sediment-hosted copper deposits in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (phase V, deliverable 75)

January 1, 2015

The presence of Neoproterozoic through Cambrian, continental, siliciclastic sedimentary rocks interbedded with dolomitic carbonates, shales, and glacial tillites similar to the Katanga Supergroup host rocks of the Central African Copperbelt and other sediment-hosted copper-bearing Proterozoic sequences worldwide, is first order criteria for consideration of the Neoproterozoic units of the Taoudeni Basin in Mauritania as prospective for sediment-hosted copper deposits. Review of the National Mineral Occurrences Database (Marsh and Anderson, 2015) and previous literature suggest that only a handful of small sediment-hosted copper occurrences have been found to date in Mauritania and that the resource potential for this deposit type is low. In the northern Taoudeni Basin, the most important occurrence is at Taradent. This occurrence consists of three mineralized horizons in the lower Neoproterozoic Char Group in three outcrop areas separated by alluvium over a strike length of 12 kilometers (km). The most extensively mineralized horizon consists of malachite and disseminated copper sulfides, and is concentrated at the base of a dolomitic interval, consistent with a reduced faciestype sediment-hosted copper deposit model. Additional and poorly described copper occurrences in the Taoudeni Basin margin sedimentary rocks in northeastern Mauritania, such as Chegga Guettatira and Sidi Bara, may be sediment-hosted copper occurrences and extend the potential throughout this portion of the Basin.

Additional potential for sediment-hosted copper deposits is indicated in reports by the British Geological Survey (BGS; Gunn and others, 2004) and BRGM (Salpeteur, 2005) in the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian sedimentary rocks (Teniagouri Group) of the central and southern Taoudeni Basin at a number of occurrences in the vicinity of Fouges, Weringuel, and Gig Zig. These occurrences exhibit characteristics consistent with a reduced-facies-type sediment-hosted copper deposit model and based on correlation of similar host rocks extend the potential throughout the entire Taoudeni Basin margin. Very poorly described copper occurrences in the northeastern and southeastern part of the Basin at Kreb en Naga, Kreb en Naga SW, Berbere, Dhar Nema, Dhar Nema 2, Saile, and Nejam-Medroume all are described as occurring in sedimentary rocks and are hosted by or are in close proximity to voluminous outcrops of Jurassic microgabbros (also referred to as dolerite or diabase). Uncertainty exists as to whether they are sediment-hosted copper occurrences. They are likely more closely analogous to copper occurrences associated with mafic igneous activity.

The determination of whether reported copper occurrences and associated sedimentary rocks at Kreb en Naga and Kreb en Naga SW in the northeastern Taoudeni Basin and the Dhar Nema occurrences in the southeastern Taoudeni are permissive of sediment-hosted copper mineralization was inconclusive due to the absence of copper showings. While sedimentary host rocks at these locations must be broadly considered permissive, the absence of other favorable geologic features in these areas indicates that the potential for mineral deposits of this type is low. The widespread presence of mafic sills and dikes of Jurassic age throughout these areas and descriptions of associated minor copper mineralization suggests that many of the copper occurrences in these areas are not of the sediment-hosted copper type.

Highly speculative potential exists in the Coastal Basin for Revett-type copper deposits in unexposed Jurassic-Cretaceous sandstones that may contain structural traps with gas accumulations. Eocene continental red bed sandstones of the Gorgol Formation, where overlain by the shallow marine sedimentary rocks of the Rinndiao Formation, represent an additional low potential rock sequence within the southeastern portion of the Coastal Basin that is permissive of sediment-hosted copper deposits.

Field examinations of outcrop areas in the vicinity of many of the known occurrences were performed in late 2007 to provide additional criteria for evaluating the potential for this type of mineralization in Mauritania. In general, the geographic coordinates of occurrences are imprecise and many of the occurrences could not be located. Examination of outcrops of the Char Group in the Taradent area confirms the permissive nature of these rocks for reduced-facies-type sediment-hosted copper deposits. Inspection of weak copper mineralization hosted by black shales at several occurrences in the Gadel-Maylime area confirms that these occurrences are also of the reduced-faciestype and that the black and green shales of the Bouly and Ould Yenje Formations are permissive. Reported copper analyses up to 0.75 percent copper at Taradent and a single analysis of mineralized shale in the Gadel-Maylime area containing 0.55 percent copper indicate that low grade ore material exists at these locations. However indications that such copper grades are continuous over significant intervals and present in large tonnages are lacking.

Although mineral occurrence data and descriptive geological information are adequate to delineate areas favorable for sediment-hosted copper deposits, this review indicates that potential for this type of deposit in Mauritania is low.

Publication Year 2015
Title Mineral potential for sediment-hosted copper deposits in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania (phase V, deliverable 75)
DOI 10.3133/ofr20131280K
Authors Cliff D. Taylor, Stuart A. Giles
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2013-1280
Index ID ofr20131280K
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center