Thursday, June 6, 2019

Buttala Iron Ore Deposit

Buttala Iron Ore Deposit
The Buttala iron ore deposit is found exposed in the village of Kukurampola, Monaragala District, Sri Lanka. It is located about 15 km distance from the Buttala town and closer to the Pelawatta sugar factory. The deposit is believed to be the largest magnetite deposit discovered in Sri Lanka (Athisinghe et al., 2019).

Iron Ores
Iron is a common rock forming element in the Earth. It constitutes about 5 % of the crustal materials (Kanellopoulos et al., 2018; Marion, 2012) and occurs in nature as different compounds such as oxides, carbonates, silicates, sulphides etc. (Christie & Brathwaite, 1997). Natural iron deposits with good quality and quantity are used to extract iron and such occurrences are called as iron ores (Kennedy, 1990; Summerfield, 2016; Yellishetty & Mudd, 2014).

Sri Lankan Iron Ore Deposits
The high grade basement of Sri Lanka is composed of several iron ore deposits (Cooray, 1984). They can be grouped as; magnetite deposits, copper-magnetite deposits, and hydrated iron oxide deposits (Cooray 1984, Herath, 1995).

Buttala Iron Ore Deposit
A broken magnetite block, Buttala iron ore
In 2001, a large primary magnetite deposit was discovered at Kukurampola area in Buttala, Uva province (Senaratne et al., 2001). The site is located in the proximity of the lithotectonic boundary between the Highland Complex and eastern Vijayan Complex of the Sri Lankan Precambrian basement (Senaratne et al., 2001). This boundary is a sub-horizontal ductile thrust zone (The national atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007) where a number of geologic features are identified. They include major mineralization occurrences such as magnetite, serpentinite, gold, corundum and calcite as well as formations of hot water springs (Widanagamage, 2011).

The Buttala iron ore deposit is exposed as a small mountain covering about 550000 m2 surface area (Manjula & Madugalla, 2018). Fresh ore bodies are mainly found along the ridge of mountain (Manjula & Madugalla, 2018).  From the magnetometer investigations it has been found that the deposit is not spread throughout the total mountain area but formed as a dyke which dipping to the south-east direction (Hewathilake, 2013).

According to the XRF data by Manjula & Madugalla (2018), Buttala iron ore deposit contains high amount of Fe2O3 (78.84 wt. %) and minor amounts of Al2O3 (7.54 wt. %), SiO2 (4.4 wt. %), TiO2 (3.6 wt. %) and MgO [(2.54 wt. %) Manjula & Madugalla, 2018]. Magnetite and hematite are the main ore minerals presenting in the Buttala deposit (Manjula & Madugalla, 2018). 
Exposed iron ore bodies, Buttala Exposed iron ore bodies, Buttala
Magnetite, Buttala iron ore Magnetite veins are observed in a nearby quarry site
1) Athisinghe, A.M.J.N., Hewathilake, H.P.T.S. and Adikaram, A.M.N.M., 2019. Geochemical Characterization of Magnetite Ore Deposit in Buttala, Sri Lanka. International Research Conference of Uva Wellassa University-2019.
2) Christie, T. and Brathwaite, B., 1997. Mineral commodity report 15—Iron. NZ Min. pp.22-37.
3) Cooray, P.G., 1984. An introduction to geology of Sri Lanka (Ceylon). 2nd revised ed. Colombo; National Museum Department. pp.81-83, 211-212.
4) Herath, M.M.J.W., 1995. Economic geology Sri Lanka: Fifth edition, Ministry of Industrial Development, Colombo. pp.60-70.
5) Hewathilake, H.P.T.S., Cooray, J.T. and De Silva, S.N., 2013. Magnetometer Characterization of Iron Ore Deposit in Buttala, Sri Lanka. Proceedings to 29th Technical Sessions of Geological Society of Sri Lanka, 17, p.20.
6) Kanellopoulos, C., Valsami-Jones, E., Voudouris, P., Stouraiti, C., Moritz, R., Mavrogonatos, C. and Mitropoulos, P., 2018. A new occurrence of terrestrial native iron in the earth’s surface: The Ilia thermogenic travertine case, Northwestern Euboea, Greece. Geosciences, 8(8), p.287.
7) Kennedy, B.A., 1990. Surface mining. Society for mining, metallurgy, and exploration (U.S.). pp.48, 57, 60.
8) Manjula, H.A.K.L. and Madugalla, T.B.N.S., 2018. Mineral and chemical characterization of iron ore deposit in Buttala, Sri Lanka: implication for its economic potential. The 7th Annual Science Research Sessions (ASRS)-2018. South Eastern University of Sri Lanka.
9) Marion, J., 2012. Physical science in the modern world. Elsevier. p.117.
10) Senaratne, A., Dharmagunawardene, H.A., Fernando, W. A. R., 2001. Discovery of a new primary magnetite deposit in Wellawaya. Annual research sessions, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (Vol. 6).
11) Summerfield, D., 2016. Australian resources review: Iron. Geoscience Australia, Canberra, Australia.
12) The national atlas of Sri Lanka, 2007. Second edition, Survey Department of Sri Lanka, ISBN: 955-9059-04-1, p.44.
13) Widanagamage, I.H., 2011. EMPA dating of monazite from high grade metamorphic rocks along the Highland-Vijayan boundary zone, Sri Lanka. MSc thesis, Kent State University. pp.17-18.
14) Yellishetty, M. and Mudd, G.M., 2014. Substance flow analysis of steel and long term sustainability of iron ore resources in Australia, Brazil, China and India. Journal of cleaner production, 84, pp.400-410.

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This page was last updated on 6 June 2019


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