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Metallic mineral resources

 

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 only the deposits associated with dunites are considered potentially of commercial interest (concentrations range between 45% and 60%).  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.  Investigations in the 1920s identified several thousand tonnes of chromite in the Troodos Mountains.  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 the mining stopped.  There is currently no mine in operation and the total resources of chromite across the island is unknown.

 

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.  More than 30 deposits have been discovered (Fig. 2), which range 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%.  The origin of the pyrite ore bodies (Fig. 3) is associated with the formation of new oceanic crust through seafloor spreading.  The production of copper from sulphide deposits in Cyprus goes back to the Bronze Age (39002500 BC), and up until the end of the Roman Era, Cyprus remained the main producer of copper in the known world.  Today, only one mine, the Phoenix Mine at Skouriotissa (Fig. 4), is still operational.  The application of hydrometallurgy (Fig. 5) allows for the first time since antiquity the production of pure copper (Fig. 6).  The long, continuous and intense mining activity in Cyprus is evident from the presence of slag deposits (remnants of ancient copper exploitation) scattered all over the island (Fig. 7).



 

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