Urals Platinum Belt

Other Names: UPB
District: Ural Platinum Belt
Commodities :   Gold, Palladium

The Urals mountain chain forms a 2000 km long suture zone. Between 56 and 64 degrees N, a 900 km belt north of Ekaterinburg contains large fragments of ophiolites and mafic-ultramafic intrusions. A major economic feature of this region is the widespread occurrence of placer platinum deposits which combine to form one of the largest platinum fields in the world - the Ural Platinum Belt (UPB). Since the end of the nineteenth century it has been known that primary platinum mineralisation in the Urals is associated with dunite and chromitite within concentrically zoned complexes of Uralian-Alaskan type. For over a century (1824-1925) the platinum-bearing belt of the Urals was the world’s biggest producer of the metal. During this time about 400 tons of platinum were extracted. Thousands of platinum nuggets weighing 100 g to 1000 g were found; dozens ranging from 1 kg to 5 kg, and a rare few pieces that were close to 10 kg. Most of the platinum has been extracted from the extensive alluvial deposits discovered in 1823; the most easily accessible high-grade placer deposits have largely been exhausted and mining has now dwindled to a handful of small-scale dredging operations which produce only modest volumes of platinum. Recently, new unconventional types of PGE lode deposits (Kachkanar-type and Volkovsky-type) have been discovered. Some of these are characterised by the predominance of Au and Pd over Pt, and occur in gabbroic rocks spatially, but not necessarly genetically, associated with the Ural-Alaskan type complexes. 2004

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