Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana

Volumen 72, núm. 3, A201219, 2020


Geochemistry of Platinum-Group Elements (PGE) in Cerro Matoso and Planeta Rica Ni-Laterite deposits, Northern Colombia


Geoquímica de los Elementos del Grupo del Platino (EGP) en los depósitos lateríticos de Ni de Cerro Matoso y Planeta Rica, Norte de Colombia


Mónica Tobón1,*, Marion Weber1, Joaquín A. Proenza2, Thomas Aiglsperger3,

Sebastián Betancur1, Júlia Farré-de-Pablo2, Carlos Ramírez1, Núria Pujol-Solà2

Departamento de Materiales y Minerales, Facultad de Minas, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Carrera 80 # 65-223, Medellín, Colombia.

Departament de Mineralogia, Petrologia i Geologia Aplicada, Universitat de Barcelona (UB), Martí i Franquès s/n, 08028 Barcelona, Spain.

Luleå University of Technology, Department of Civil Engineering and Natural Resources, Division of Geosciences and Environmental Engineering, SE 97187 Luleå, Sweden.

* Corresponding author: (M. Tobón) This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


How to cite this article:

Tobón, M., Weber, M., Proenza, J. A., Aiglsperger, T., Betancur, S., Farré-de-Pablo, J., Ramírez, C., Pujol-Solà, N., 2020, Geochemistry of Platinum-Group Elements (PGE) in Cerro Matoso and Planeta Rica Ni-Laterite deposits, Northern Colombia: Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana, 72 (3), A201219.



Platinum-group elements (PGE) are included among the so-called critical metals, and are essential metals for the technological industry. However, there are very few deposits in the world from which these metals can be extracted. The present work investigates three Ni-laterite profiles (hydrous Mg silicate type) formed over the ultramafic rocks of Cerro Matoso and Planeta Rica in Colombia. The main goal is to determine their PGE concentration and distribution, as well as to identify the carrier phases of these noble metals. The highest PGE contents in Cerro Matoso and Planeta Rica are concentrated in the limonite horizon (141–272 ppb), showing a strong decrease towards the saprolite and the underlying serpentinized peridotite (parent rock; < 50 ppb). The highest concentrations correspond to Pt>Ru>Pd and the lowest to Rh<Os<Ir. Such distribution indicates that PGE are mobilized in different proportions by the laterization processes. The high affinity between PGE and Fe favors the formation of PGE-Fe mineral alloys such as the Pt-Ir-Fe-Ni minerals hosted by Fe-oxyhydroxide found in the limonite–saprolite transition zone in Planeta Rica. In addition, in the same zone, nanoparticles of Pt (< 1 µm) were found within framboidal pyrite. Both types of platinum group minerals (PGM) are secondary in origin. In the case of Pt-Ir-Fe-Ni alloys, this interpretation is supported by their morphology and chemical composition, which is comparable with PGE-Fe-Ni alloys found in laterites of Dominican Republic. In the case of Pt nanoparticle, textural relations suggest the neoformation of PGM adhered to the porous edges of altered pyrite. Cerro Matoso and Planeta Rica should be considered as unconventional PGE deposits, if adequate recovery processes can be applied for their recovery as by-products during Ni (+Co) production.

Keywords: Ni-laterite deposit, platinum group elements (PGE), platinum group minerals (PGM), Cerro Matoso, Planeta Rica, Colombia.