The sulphide deposits are associated with the pillow lavas of the Troodos Ophiolite, although disseminated mineralisation is widespread in the other members of the Ophiolite. There are five main mining districts in Cyprus with respect to sulphide mineralisation, namely:
from these five main mining areas, isolated mines have been
discovered including Troulli Mine (Larnaca), Mangaleni (Limassol),
Peravasa (Limassol) and Vretchia (Paphos).
than 30 deposits have been discovered (Fig.
2), which ranged in size from less than 50,000 to more
than 20,000,000 tonnes with a copper content from less than 0.3%
to 4.5%. Zinc is
also present but generally below 0.2%.
origin of the pyrite ore bodies (Fig. 3)
was uncertain and controversial until the late 1970s when
massive sulphides were discovered in association with high-temperature
black smokers and vent biota at the crest of the East Pacific
Rise, which confirms that the formation of new oceanic crust
through seafloor spreading is intimately associated with the
generation of metallic mineral deposits at the seafloor.
Hydrothermal fluids discharging from the black smoker
chimneys were observed to continuously precipitate metal
sulphides, accumulating at and just below the seafloor, which
potentially forms massive sulphide deposits.
circulation of seawater through the oceanic crust is now
recognised as the principal mechanism for the formation of these
massive sulphide deposits.
Seawater deeply penetrates into the oceanic crust at
seafloor-spreading centres and is modified to a hydrothermal
fluid with low pH, low Eh, and high temperature, which is then
capable of leaching and transporting metals and other elements
that are later precipitated as massive sulphides at the seafloor
or as stockwork and replacement sulphides in the sub-seafloor.
Drilling into the Mid-Atlantic Ridge has since revealed
the size and internal structure of an active massive sulphide
deposit and the underlying stockwork that is forming on young,
unsedimented oceanic crust.
production of copper from sulphide deposits in Cyprus goes back
to the Bronze Age (3900–2500 BC), and up until the end of the
Roman Era, Cyprus remained the main producer of copper in the
known world. Mining
activity then ceased until the end of the nineteenth century
when pyrite (FeS2) and chalcopyrite (CuFeS2)
mining became active again, mainly for sulphur production but
also for copper. During
the 1960s and the 1970s mining activity declined, due to the
exhaustion of the sulphide deposits and also to the strong
competition with other sources of sulphur.
Today, only one mine, the Phoenix Mine at Skouriotissa (Fig.
4), is still operational and since 1996 has been
recovering copper using the SX/EW (solvent extraction /
electrowinning) technology (Fig. 5).
For the first time since antiquity, pure copper is now
produced in Cyprus (Fig. 6).
The long, continuous and intense mining activity in Cyprus is evident from the presence of slag deposits (remnants of ancient copper exploitation) (Fig. 7) scattered all over the island.