Rhodes University Logo
Rhodes > PRIMOR > Research


As a research unit dedicated to iron and manganese as the mineral commodities of choice, PRIMOR has begun its activities through a series of projects at MSc and PhD level, which are naturally focused on the world-class deposits of the Transvaal Supergroup in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa. This specific research aims at shedding light on a number of issues concerning these deposits which, despite past research efforts, remain largely unresolved. These include:

  • The primary depositional environment and specifically the bio-geochemical- mechanisms that controlled the characteristically cyclic deposition of Mn-poor BIF and carbonate-rich manganese sediment in the Hotazel Formation of the Kalahari Manganese Field (KMF);
  • The origin of the present mineral assemblages of the Hotazel deposits and specifically the relative role of diagenesis versus primary deposition in controlling mineralogy and mineral-chemical signatures;
  • The hydrothermal event/s that led to the localised metal upgrading of the Hotazel Fe-Mn Formation in the KMF, and the relative role of such events (if more than one) in terms of absolute metal enrichment in space and time;
  • The geochemical behaviour and palaeo-environmental significance of manganese in BIF in general, and in the thick BIF succession (Asbestos Hills Subgroup) predating the Hotazel deposits in particular;
  • The genesis of iron ore in the Northern Cape region, and specifically the relative role of ancient supergene activity versus epigenetic fluid-flow in the transformation of suitable protoliths (e.g. BIF) into massive, hematitic iron ore;
  • Provided that the iron-ores are largely hydrothermal in origin, the geochemical “fingerprints” of hydrothermal alteration in adjacent rocks, as well as the key structural controls for fluid-flow on a variety of scales; and finally,
  • The genesis of karst-hosted, Mn oxide-rich ores typically found in close geographic proximity to massive hematite ores, and the potential metallogenic links between the two ore types.

The overarching research objective of PRIMOR is to ultimately become a recognised centre for world-class fundamental and applied research on a great variety of iron and manganese deposits from South Africa and beyond. This will be subject to availability of funding in the medium to longer term and expressions of interest from other stakeholders involved in the iron and manganese game. For that reason, PRIMOR will always welcome any opportunity to discuss possibilities of further research collaboration with new industry partners, geoscience academics, as well as similar research initiatives elsewhere.

‌‌PRIMOR members during fieldwork in the Northern Cape.

Group meeting at the Assmang Meeting Room at Rhodes University

Last Modified: Thu, 22 Jun 2017 16:35:55 SAST