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Chromite

 

Chromite (FeCr2O4) (Fig. 1) occurs as an accessory mineral in most of the basic and ultrabasic igneous rocks (harzburgite, dunite, wehrlite) of the Troodos Ophiolite (concentrations range between 1% and 5%) and the Mamonia Complex, and is locally concentrated in the serpentinites and dunites or as dunite pods within the harzburgites. Only the deposits associated with dunites are considered potentially of commercial interest (concentrations range between 45% and 60%).  Chromite occurs as disseminated grains to nodular and massive chromite and as lenses or irregular bodies within the dunite.

 

The genesis of chromite is directly associated with the genesis of the ophiolite complex and in particular with the plutonic rocks through the process of magma crystallisation.  The magma that is formed from the partial melting of the Upper Mantle rises and forms small magma chambers.  One of the first minerals formed during the crystallisation of the magma within the harzburgite and the magma chamber is chromite, which due to its specific gravity is separated from the magma and precipitates out.  This is why chromite concentrations are formed within the harzburgite and also in the transition zone between harzburgite and dunite.

 

Investigations in the 1920s identified several thousand tonnes of chromite in the Troodos Mountains.  In 1924, two companies, the Troodos Chrome and Asbestos Co Ltd and the Eastern Minerals Co Ltd, were set up and about 5,000 tonnes of chromite were exported between 1924 and 1925.  Several mines were established between 1935 and the 1980s; the Hadjipavlou Mine on the southern flank of the Troodos massif and the Kokkinorotsos and Kannoures Mines on the northern flank.  Small tonnages were also extracted from small deposits of the Limassol Forest.  All chromite was recovered from underground mines and exported for use as a refractory.  During the 1980s, chromite mining ceased to be economically viable and as a result there is currently no mine in operation.

 

An estimate of chromite reserves was established during an investigation by the Geological Survey Department of Cyprus and the French BRGM (1985) at around 300,000 tonnes of chromite concentrate.  Total resources of chromite across the island are unknown.

 

 

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