Lithology, petrography and Cu occurrence of the Neoproterozoic glacial Mwale Formation at the Shanika syncline (Tenke Fungurume, Congo Copperbelt; Democratic Republic of Congo)

Pascal Mambwe, Luke Milan, Jacques Batumike*, Sébastien Lavoie, Michel Jébrak, Louis Kipata, Mumba Chabu, Sonya Mulongo, Toto Lubala, Damien Delvaux, Philippe Muchez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


The Mwale Formation that constitutes the base of the Nguba Group in the Neoproterozoic Katanga Supergroup has recently attracted renewed interest for copper mineral exploration. We present new field observations combined with detailed logging and petrography of MWAS0001 drill hole at Shanika syncline in the Tenke Fungurume Mining District. Our study has enabled us to subdivide the Mwale Formation into 7 distinct sequences. This succession is host to glaciogenic, glaciomarine, glaciofluvial and glaciolacustrine deposits. Glaciomarine beds are typically a deposit by debris flow in deep water marine environment, induced by basin wide tectonics and glaciation influence. Glaciofluvial beds were deposited in shallow water, fluvial deltaic environment. The glaciolacustrine environment is indicated by dropstones occurring in the laminated mudstone and rhythmites with dispersed clasts observed in the siltstone and conglomerate. These beds are interlayered within the glaciogenic beds, and are characterised by variable clast composition (felsic, mafic and metamorphic). The clasts are very poorly sorted, angular, rounded to moderately rounded, faceted or striated, and supported in a sandy argillaceous or mud matrix.

Two main episodes of sulphide mineralisation are distinguished in the Mwale Formation. The diagenetic episode consists of disseminated euhedral and framboidal pyrites. The hydrothermal episode is associated with Mg-metasomatism and characterised by low grade copper mineralisation that occurs (i) in veins filled with carbonate-chlorite and carbonate-quartz-chlorite-Cu sulphides, such as chalcocite, chalcopyrite and bornite, and (ii) as disseminated sulphides within the host rock. This second episode is late to post-orogenic and can be correlated with late brittle tectonics within the Lufilian arc. The other alteration types include silicification and potassic alteration; however, these alterations are not associated with mineralisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)898-909
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2017



  • Mwale Formation
  • Congo copperbelt
  • Neoproterozoic glaciation
  • Cu sulphide mineralisation
  • Hydrothermal chlorite

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