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ArticleName Morphology and localization of nanoscale gold in the sulphides of the gold-sulphide deposit situated in the black shale strata of the Northern Verkhoyanye in Yakutia
DOI 10.17580/tsm.2023.03.02
ArticleAuthor Moskvitin S. G., Moskvitina L. V., Popov V. I.

Larionov Institute for Physical and Engineering Problems of the North at the Yakutsk Research Centre, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia:
S. G. Moskvitin, Senior Researcher, Candidate of Geology & Mineralogy Sciences
L. V. Moskvitina, Senior Researcher, Candidate of Physics & Technical Sciences, e-mail:


Yu.G. Shafer Institute of Cosmophysical Research and Aeronomy at the Yakutsk Research Centre, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Yakutsk, Russia:
V. I. Popov, Senior Researcher, Candidate of Physics & Mathematics Sciences


The studied deposit situated in the Northern Verkhoyanye (Yakutia) is one of the largest gold deposits in Russia and, according to its formation conditions, as well as geological, mineralogical and geochemical parameters, it can be subsumed under the gold sulphide type, with gold finely dispersed in carbonaceous shales. Commercial gold content of ores is determined by vein-disseminated mineralization represented by gold-bearing pyrite and arsenopyrite disseminated in silicified aleurolites. Aiming to develop and enhance new techniques for recovering fine gold, the authors looked at concentrator minerals to understand the deportment and chemical state of gold in them. For this, a combination of chemical and ion-plasma etching processes was applied to sulphide matrix in oxygen and argon environments. As a result of chemical etching, loose iron chloride salts and other unstable compounds are formed on sulphide surface, which can partially be removed by ultrasonic cleaning. Ion-plasma etching in oxygen and argon environment helps remove most of the products of the chemical reaction, while thin layers of the sulphide matrix get removed in the course of repetitive etching cycles. It was established that due to high electrical conductivity of precious metals, ionization that occurs in them as a result of charged-particle bombardment is neutralized very quickly, and this process does not affect their electrophysical properties ensuring selective etching of the sulphide matrix. With the help of scanning tunnel and atomic-force microscopy, the authors looked at the morphology and localization of fine-dispersed gold in sulphides. It was established that nanoscale gold inclusions are distributed throughout the entire volume of the host sulphides in native state. The deformation processes occurring in pyrite and arsenopyrite crystals were found to have contributed to the enlargement of gold grains. The gold contained in early-stage arsenopyrites is found in the form of nanoinclusions of emulsion.

keywords Sulphides, nanoscale gold, dislocations, chemical etching, ionplasma etching, scanning tunnel microscopy, X-ray spectral analysis

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