Nickel-Bearing Laterite Deposits in Accretionary Context and the Case of New Caledonia: From the Large-Scale Structure of Earth to Our Everyday Appliances
Nickel production is vital to modern economic development. Of the different ore types, supergene Ni-laterite production, as open-cast mining exploitation, is on the rise and surpassing the more conventional hypogene sulfide type. This trend will likely continue. Assessing the global resource of Ni laterite is therefore of crucial importance. Compilation of scientific publications shows that the main producers and occurrences are concentrated in a few countries in Southeast Asia (New Caledonia, Indonesia, the Philippines) and the Caribbean region (Cuba and the Dominican Republic). In these regions a common geological background appears, characterized by large obducted ophiolites in tectonically active settings, subject to weathering during the Neogene. The neoformed mineralogy of such surficial deposits is well documented. A model is proposed, based on the knowledge gained on Ni-laterite deposits in New Caledonia, that could be applied to similar geological settings worldwide. This model states that in accretionary terranes, vertical motions during weathering control both ore type and location.
Manuscript received 16 Oct. 2017. Revised manuscript received 3 Dec. 2018. Manuscript accepted 4 Dec. 2018. Posted 16 Jan. 2019.
© The Geological Society of America, 2019. CC-BY-NC.