Porphyry copper–molybdenum deposits (PCDs) are the world’s most important source of copper, molybdenum and rhenium. Previous studies have reported that some PCDs can have sub-economic to economic grades of critical metals, i.e., those elements that are both essential for modern societies and subject to the risk of supply restriction (e.g., platinum group elements (PGE), rare earth elements (REE), In, Co, Te, Ge, Ga, among others). Even though some studies have reported measured concentrations of Pd and Pt in PCDs, their occurrence and mineralogical forms remain poorly constrained. Furthermore, these reconnaissance studies have focused predominantly on porphyry Cu–Au deposits, but very limited information is available for porphyry Cu–Mo systems. In this contribution, we report the occurrence of critical metal (Pd, Pt, Au, Ag, and Te) inclusions in copper sulfides from one of the largest PCDs in the world, the supergiant Río Blanco-Los Bronces deposit in central Chile. Field emission scanning electron microscope (FESEM) observations of chalcopyrite and bornite from the potassic alteration zone reveal the presence of micro- to nano-sized particles (<1–10 μm) containing noble metals, most notably Pd, Au, and Ag. The mineralogical data show that these inclusions are mostly tellurides, such as merenskyite ((Pd, Pt) (Bi, Te)2
), Pd-rich hessite (Ag2
Te), sylvanite ((Ag,Au)Te2
) and petzite (Ag3
). The data point to Pd (and probably Pt) partitioning in copper sulfides during the high-temperature potassic alteration stage, opening new avenues of research aimed at investigating not only the mobility of PGE during mineralization and partitioning into sulfides, but also at exploring the occurrence of critical metals in porphyry Cu–Mo deposits.
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