X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) are applied to investigate the properties of fine-grained concentrates on artisanal, small-scale gold mining samples from the Kubi Gold Project of the Asante Gold Corporation near Dunwka-on-Offin in the Central Region of Ghana. Both techniques show that the Au-containing residual sediments are dominated by the host elements Fe, Ag, Al, N, O, Si, Hg, and Ti that either form alloys with gold or with inherent elements in the sediments. For comparison, a bulk nugget sample mainly consisting of Au forms an electrum,
i.e., a solid solution with Ag. Untreated (impure) sediments, fine-grained Au concentrate, coarse-grained Au concentrate, and processed ore (Au bulk/nugget) samples were found to contain clusters of O, C, N, and Ag, with Au concentrations significantly lower than that of the related elements. This finding can be attributed to primary geochemical dispersion, which evolved from the crystallization of magma and hydrothermal liquids as well as the migration of metasomatic elements and the rapid rate of chemical weathering of lateralization in secondary processes. The results indicate that Si and Ag are strongly concomitant with Au because of their eutectic characteristics, while N, C, and O follow alongside because of their affinity to Si. These non-noble elements thus act as pathfinders for Au ores in the exploration area. This paper further discusses relationships between gold and sediments of auriferous lodes as key to determining indicator minerals of gold in mining sites.
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