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ORIGIN AND GEOCHEMISTRY FOR THE EXPLORATION OF ZINC AND OTHER MINERALS IN CENTRAL ANDES

Zinc (Zn) is a bluish-white metal found in the earth's crust with an average content of approximately 70 ppm (Wedepohl, 1995). It has a strong affinity for sulphur (S), which is why it is found in nature in sulphuric bonds. The most important mineral for zinc production is sphalerite (ZnS), which represents approximately 95% of primary zinc production (IZA 2014).

Sphalerite may also have concentrations of elements such as iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), cadmium (Cd), and depending on the type of deposit, may contain other trace elements such as indium (In), gallium (Ga), tellurium (Te) and germanium (Ge) (Krüger et al., 2001). Sphalerite almost always occurs paragenetically with galena (PbS) due to its similar geochemical behavior (Ionic Potential 4, Railsback 2012). In addition to lead (Pb), other metallic elements of economic significance such as copper (Cu) and silver (Ag) are extracted in zinc mining. About 90% comes from mines that have it as their main element.

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