Minerals of Azerbaijan
The territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan which encompasses eastern portion of the Major and Minor Caucasus mountain ranges is distinguished with its complex geological structure, diversity and manifoldness of minerals.
Azerbaijan had been known as an oil land for ancient times. In this regard oil was extracted in Absheron peninsula in the 7-6 centuries BC according to the historical data.
Furthermore, discovery of paraphernalia and ornaments that were confirmed unambiguously to be prepared from local raw materials indicates implementation of mining works before Christ. Historical sources belonging to the medieval period report existence and exploitation of copper, gold, silver, lead mines in Azerbaijan. Hence interest to geological investigation of the natural oil displays, oilfields, and oil and gas-bearing regions of Azerbaijan increased due to enhancement of oil use scope, and consequently determination of perspective with regard to other minerals of the area remained in the background to some extent.
It shouldn’t be ruled out that in general the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan was geologically examined insufficiently until the twenties of the last century.
From the forties of 19th century till the twenties of the 20th century German, Russian, and partly local industrialists carried out exploitation and research works in Dashkasan cobalt, as well as Gadabay, Bittibulag and Balakan copper deposits.
During 1867-1914 the German firm «Siemens» extracted 56000 tons of copper (according to approximate estimations 6.3-12.7 tons of gold, and 120.6-126.1 tons of silver) from Gadabay deposit; 16000 tons of copper ore containing 2% copper from Bittibulag deposit; as well as 608 tons of cobalt ore consisting of 10-18% cobalt from Dashkasan cobalt deposit and took them to Germany.
In early 20th century another German firm «Vagow» conducted exploration and exploitation of non-ferrous deposits in Balakan region, processed in situ the produced ores from Jikhikh and Kohnamadan deposits, and sold the obtained copper to local businessmen.
During 1862-72 saltpetre producing fabric operated in Tumbul village situated not far from Nakhichevan city. Shan Girem in eighties of 19th century, and Englishmen named Atterton in 1914 spearheaded brimstone producing fabric in accordance with the base of Gomur sulphur field (Nakhichevan AR).
Expedient research of the territory of Azerbaijan started from thirties of 20th century, various industrially significant iron, molybdenum, cobalt, polymetal deposits were revealed in a short time and involved to exploitation.
During the years of Great Patriotic War geological exploration works were directed mostly to research of defensively essential mineral reserves. Henceforth exploitation works were started in Paragachay molybdenum deposit, and extraction process was accelerated in operated Northern Dashkasan deposit in 1939. Generally, 60% of produced cobalt in USSR during 1941-45 fell to the share of Azerbaijan.
Copper production was organized in Gadabay mine.
Implementation and putting into use of exploration works were intensively continued in non-ferrous deposits (gunpowder, sulphuric pyrite, kaolin, fireproof clay and etc.) for needs of Azerbaijan oil industry which held 75% of erstwhile fuel-lubricants produced within the commonwealth.
Later involvement of Dashkasan iron ore and Zaylik alunite deposit to exploitation resulted with the establishment of mining industry in Azerbaijan.
The Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources founded reliable basis that provided stable progress of several spheres based on use of mineral reserve of the Republican economy and increasing requirement needs of mineral raw material.
Exploitation works were carried out in the ore deposits regarding Dashkasan iron ore, Zaylik alunite, Gumushlu, Agdara polymetal, Paragachay molybdenum ore deposits until the nineties of the last century.
Mineral raw resources play quite significant role in technical-economical and social development of society being intricate natural product.
Therefore significance of mineral reserves in modern world proliferates incessantly.
Mineral reserves in bowels are one of the main factors identifying economic and social-political independence of the country being content of common natural resources.
Enhancement of economic potential of the Republic of Azerbaijan is connected with prolific use of resources of various mineral deposits completed of exploration in its territory, as well as improvement of mining and processing spheres.
In addition to mineral deposits confirmed of industrial reserves and registered in state balance, research and geological-exploration works were implemented regarding number of ore displays, and their basic reserves were evaluated. Brief information on main deposits is provided below.
Iron ores are considered one of the main bulwarks of industry and economic development to this day. Currently trustworthy mineral raw basis has been established in the area of Azerbaijan by confirmation of industrially significant reserves of 3 ore deposit. All of them are located in Dashkasan ore region and represented with Dashkasan, Southern Dashkasan, and Damir cobalt magnetite deposits.
It should be mentioned that Dashkasan group deposits (Dashkasan, Southern Dashkasan, Damir) had peculiar roles in the mineral raw basis of the Republic for long years. Azerbaijan ore-dressing group of enterprises operated in the basis of these deposits and its product (iron concentrate) completely met the needs of Georgia’s Rustavi metallurgy group of enterprises. In case operation of Dashkasan ore-dressing group of enterprises is restored in the near future, it will be provided with trustworthy reserve for 70-80 years.
As a result of geological-research works implemented in 1960-1964 Goydara group chromite ore displays were revealed in the area of Kalbajar region, while Ipak group chromite ore displays were discovered in the territory of Lachin region.
Goydara chromite displays group – is located in the watershed of Istibulagsu river, 21 km north-west of Kalbajar region center.
Its chromite mineralization functioned in the dissemination zone of lenticular dunite masses and was followed in the distance of more than 350 m. Ore bodies are represented with elliptic and lenticular morphologic burrows isolated from each other.
Their thickness is from 0.5 m to 15 m. The amount of chromium oxide in the content of ore is (Cr2O3) 43.5-52.6%; Cr2 O3: FeO – ratio is between 3.5-4.0 which absolutely meets the needs of industry.
Ipak chromite displays group – is situated near Ipak village of Lachin region. Here chromite mineralization has also spread in dunite lenses located inside hyperbasites. Chromite mineralization holds nodular texture, thickness of several lenses is about 0.5 m to 3-5 m. The amount of chromium oxide in lenses contains (Cr2O3) – 25.0-39.5%. Diffusion area of chromium mineralization in this region is up to 500 square km.
Non-ferrousmetals regardingcopper, lead, zinc, cobalt, mercury, antimony ores deposits and displays are widespread in metallogenic provinces of Major and Minor Caucasus’s Azerbaijan portion centered mostly in Balakan-Zaqatala, Gadabay and Ordubad ore regions.
Copper reserves of the Republic are focused mostly in Balakan-Zaqatala, Gadabay, Qarabag and Ordubad ore regions. Basic copper reserves in Balakan-Zaqatala ore region are centered in copper-pyrite, pyrite-polymetal type deposits and displays, while in ore regions of Minor Caucasus and Nakhichevan rugged zone they are focused in mostly copper-porphyry, molybdenum-copper-porphyry and gold-copper-pyrite type fields and displays.
There is the only copper-porphyry deposit confirmed of industrial reserves (Qaradag copper-porphyry deposit) in the Republic which holds 4.7% of total ore reserves.
Industrial reserves of copper in Balakan-Zaqatala ore region in three pyrite-polymetal deposits-huge Filizchay, middle scale Kasdag and Katekh deposits were confirmed and registered in state balance of mineral deposits. Reserves of Sagator copper-zinc, Mazimchay copper-pyrite and Ashagi Karabchay pyrite-polymetal deposits evaluated with C2 category were registered in the area balance and their prognostic reserves were estimated.
Industrial reserves of copper in Minor Caucasus were confirmed in Qizilbulag gold-bearing copper-pyrite deposit and partly in Vejnali gold deposit located in Qarabag ore region along with Qaradag copper-porphyry deposit.
Reserves of iron-bearing copper-porphyry deposit in Qarabag ore region, and Gadabay copper-pyrite deposit in Gadabay ore region were evaluated and their prognostic reserves were estimated.
Copper reserves in Goydag, Diakhchay, Misdag-Shalala copper-porphyry, Agyurd gold, Nasirvaz-Agdara polymetal deposits in Nakhichevan rugged zone were evaluated, registered in the area balance and their prognostic reserves were estimated.
Copper deposits of Minor Caucasus are centered mostly in Gadabay ore region. Predominantly copper-porphyry, and partly copper-pyrite deposits have developed in this region.
Preliminary exploration of central part of Qaradag copper-porphyry deposits in Gadabay region was carried out and their reserves were allocated to area balance.
Gadabay ore region is one of the most perspective regions in terms of geological-structural system, intensity of geophysical and geochemical anomalies, as well as richness of copper-porphyry, copper-pyrite, copper-gold ores.
Qarabag ore region has high perspective for copper mineralization. Mainly copper-porphyry, gold-copper-pyrite and other geological-industrial mineralization types are widespread in this ore region. Precise exploration of Qızılbulag gold-copper-pyrite deposit was entirely completed and its industrial reserves were taken to state balance. The deposit is located in Agdara region. Average amount of copper contains 1.38%.
Qoshgarchay and Qoshgardag territories that have perspective for copper-porphyry, and copper-pyrite ores were revealed in Dashkasan ore region.
Formerly ore-dressing mine operated in Ordubad ore region in the territory of Nakhichevan AR confirmed of reserves, based on Paragachay copper-molybdenum deposit and of the same name with it. Lately needs of the enterprise were met due to poor ores and it discontinued its operation completely after it was blockaded by Armenia. Continuation of exploitation exploration and planned research works on the deposit are considered essential for its equipment with reliable raw material.
Ordubad ore region which is located in Miskhana-Zangazur metallogenic square is deemed to have high perspective for discovery of industrially significant copper fields in Nakhichevan rugged zone. As a result of researches implemented lately in this region, numerous copper-molybdenum displays were revealed in Paragachay, Misdag, Goydag, Gyoygyol, Shalala, Diakhchay, Kotam-Kilit ore fields. Moreover, Eocene aged prognostic resources are expected in considerable amount of hydrothermally changed rocks within the volcano-plutonic complex in Khanaga-Ordubad mineralization area of Julfa region.
Industrial reserves of cobalt confirmed and registered in state balance are collected in Dashkasan ore region - «Hamamchay» and «Damir» iron ore regions, Balakan-Zaqatala ore region – Filizchay pyrite-polymetal deposit.
It should be noted that, more than 30 ml tons of wastes piled in the valley of Qoshqarchay for a long time during exploitation of Dashkasan deposit, in which considerably precious cobalt exists.
Nevertheless the reason of non-extraction of cobalt from iron ores and its cumulation as a waste is explained with non-existence of certain technology, the main cause was pertaining of iron ore to the Ferrous Metallurgy Administration and cobalt ore to the Non-ferrous Metallurgy Administration respectively of the USSR Non-ferrous Metallurgy Ministry. One fact is sufficient to mention that, during the Second World War exploitation problem of Northern Dashkasan cobalt deposit was solved in a short time and roughly 40-45% of cobalt needs of the USSR was provided with this deposit within the period of war.
Cobalt fields estimated of reserves in Minor Caucasus region exist only in Dashkasan ore region regarding «Southern Dashkasan», «Hamamchay» and «Damir» deposits. However exploitation of reserves of «Northern Dashkasan» cobalt deposit in Dashkasan ore area remains unfinished.
Mineralization of cobalt in «Hamamchay» deposit is noted in 2 forms – particular cobalt mineral in form of glaucodot minerals of cobalt and cobalt-bearing pyrite in the content of magnetite ore in form of porous and veinlet.
Cobalt in «Damir» deposit is located in the composition of magnetite ores in the form of cobalt-bearing pyrite.
The amount of cobalt connected with free cobalt minerals holds 0.139% in «Southern Dashkasan» iron ore deposit. Average amount of its part related with cobalt-bearing pyrite is 0.025%.
Cobalt reserves related with magnetite ore can be taken only during iron ore exploitation in these areas.
As a result of erstwhile geological-research works implemented in Ordubad ore region, several copper-cobalt displays were discovered, of which the Kotam and Kilit displays are considered the most interesting ones.
Kotam copper-cobalt display is situated in 2.5 km north-east of Kotam village. Mineralization zone in depth of 20-80 m is seen in 2.5 km distance on Earth. Mineralization holds veinlet-porous texture and contains chalcopyrite-pyrite. The amount of cobalt within mineralization changes between 0.06%-0.3%, nickel-0.1%, copper-0.3-1.12%.
Kilit copper-cobalt display is located in Kotam ore region, is composed of mineralization zones in veinlet-porous form, and contains cobalt, nickel preserving pyrite-chalcopyrite. Mineralization zones are seen in the thickness of 3-8.6 m from the distance of 20 m to 1000 m. Average amount of elements is as follows: cobalt-0.028-0.115%, copper-0.07-0.43%.
Necessity of establishment of raw material base for high quality steel production in the Republic makes it requisite for implementation of geological-research works on cobalt ore in future. As a result of exploration works carried out in the flanks of «Northern Dashkasan» cobalt deposit of which reserves were formerly exploited since 1993, parameters of widely used zones were determined and high quantity of cobalt over these zones was defined for the first time (in thickness of 4 m-0.41%, and in thickness of 1.25 m-0.37%).
Reserves of molybdenum registered in state balance are centered in Paragachay deposit (alongside Qapijiq area) of Ordubad ore region.
As contiguous component molybdenum reserves were evaluated, admitted to area balance, and their prognostic resources were estimated in Gyoydag, Diakhchay, Misdag-Shalala copper-porphyry deposits in Ordubad ore region of Nakhichevan rugged zone and in Damirli copper-porphyry deposit in Qarabag ore region of Minor Caucasus.
2.5. Aluminium raw
As a result of erstwhile geological-research works carried out in the territory of the Republic Zaylik alunite ores were discovered and explored. The deposit is located in Dashkasan region, 18 km east of Qushchu bridge. Alunite ores are widespread in Jurassic volcanic sediments and are represented with schistous two ore layer. Ores consist mainly of alunite and quartz. The amount of alunite oscillates between 10-80%, and average quantity is 53% over the deposit.
Alunite ores possess 29.7% of the total ore reserves within the Republic.
Zaylik alunite field has been exploited since 1964 as a mineral raw material base of Ganja loam group of enterprises. Each year 200 thousand tons of loam, 385 thousand tons of sulphate acid, potassium fertilizer were obtained from alunite, and were sent to Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk aluminum factories at that time.
One of the striking factors of this deposit is the existence of vanadium and gallium metals in the content of alunite ores able to be used in nuclear reactors, aircraft technics and rocketry, and alloy compounds.
Quicksilver deposit of which industrial reserves were registered in state balance is Levchay deposit located in Kalbajar ore region. Reserves of another mercury deposit in the region were depleted due to exploitation.
Besides these deposits reserves of Narzanli, Saribulag, Chilgazchay, Qamishli, and Shorbulag mercury deposits in Kalbajar ore region of Minor Caucasus were evaluated, registered in area balance, and their prognostic resources were estimated.
Levchay quicksilver deposit – is situated in 15-20 km north-west of Lev village of Kalbajar region. Ore masses are located inside Cretaceous carbonate rocks in lenticular form. Length of ore masses is from 20 m to 70 m, while thickness is from 2.5 m to 6.5 m. Average amount of mercury in the composition of ore vacillates between 0.261 and 0.497%.
Agyatag quicksilver deposit – is located in 12-15 km east, south-east of Kalbajar town. The deposit was exploited by Shorbulag mining enterprise until 1984. Average quantity of mercury in the content of ore is 0.3%.
Chilgazchay quicksilver deposit - is situated near Alakchi village of Lachin region. Mercury mineralization is located inside crumbled, quartz santon aged rocks. The fundamental mineral of quicksilver viz. vermilion is spread irregularly inside ore-bearing rocks in the form of several burrows, separate parts and veinlets.
Narzanlı deposit - is situated not far from Kalafalig village of Lachin region. The basic mineral of mercury viz. vermilion is located inside limestone in the form of several lenses, burrows, and veinlets.
The territory of Azerbaijan has great perspective for establishment of durable and long term gold mining industry. Numerous gold deposits and displays (both particular gold, and in complex with other metals) discovered during the last decades confirms it, for they hold a bit number of gold mineralization prognosticated in potential ore-bearing regions.
Gold deposits and displays can be divided into two groups. The first group includes fundamental gold deposits revealed in direct formation area in mountain rocks. The second group consists of splattered gold deposits derived from corrosion of fundamental gold deposits, conveying of sediments from them to different distances. Splattered gold deposits are considered economically auspicious because extra technological processing is not required in their use.
On January 1, 2006, reserves of three special gold deposits (Qizilbulag, Vejnali, and Zod (Soyudlu) explored in state balance of Republican mineral reserves and confirmed of industrially significant reserves, as well as gold reserves estimated and confirmed as contiguous components in the ores of Filizchay, Katekh and Kasdag polymetal, Qaradag copper-porphyry deposits were reported.
Furthermore reserves of Qosha, Agyurd, Pyazbashi, Dagkasaman, Gadabay and Agduzdag deposits evaluated with C2 category were registered in area balance.
On August 20, 1997, contract on exploration, use, and share production of Gadabay, Qosha, Ordubad group (Piyazbashi, Agturd, Shakardara, Kalaki), Soyudlu, Qizilbulag, and Vejnali perspective gold deposits between the former “Azerqizil” State Company and “RV Investment Group Services LLC” of the US in accordance with the decree of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan “on exploration and use of several gold deposits of the Republic of Azerbaijan” dated 5 February, 1996 with the purpose of establishment of gold mining industry in the Republic and additional exploration works have been started since 2005 in deposits excluding Soyudlu (Zod), Qizilbulag and Vejnali fields which are situated in the territories occupied by Armenians and these works are supposed to be finished in 2008.
Qizilbulag deposit – is located in the area of Agdara region, 63 km north-west of Agdama city. Accurate exploration works were conducted in the deposit, their reserves were estimated and confirmed. The field is included to gold-copper-pyrite geological industry type. Ores are consisted mostly of pyrite, chalcopyrite, marcasite, sfalerite, chalcosine, quartz and etc. Average amount of gold in ore is 4.0 g/t, silver – 5.4 g/t, and copper – 1.41 %. Predominant useful components of the deposit are composed of gold, silver and copper, while contiguous components are consisted of selenium, tellurium and sulphur.
Dagkasaman deposit – is situated in central part of Qazakh concavity, 1.5-2 km south of Qazakh city. More than 10 quartz-gold-polymetal veins were discovered in the field. Total length of the zones are about 1300 m. The fundamental components of the deposit are gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc. The amount of gold in ore content is from 1 g/t to 30 g/t, while silver is from 10 g/t to 50 g/t.
Qosha deposit – is located in western portion of Gadabay ore region, 30 km south of Tovuz city. 9 vascular gold-bearing sulphide zones exist within the deposit. Majority of these zones stretch till the near north-west and meridian, thickness of them is from 2.0 m to 15 m. Thickness of ore masses at these zones holds 0.5-3.0 m. Basic utilitarian components of the field are gold and silver. The quantity of gold at north-western zones is 4-8 g/t; while nearly 10 g/t at meridional zones reaching 1000 g/t in occasional tests. 35.6 % gold-bearing concentrate is obtained by flotation method according to technological scheme made under laboratory condition.
Gadabay deposit – is situated in north-western edge of Gadabay city. Exploitation works were conducted in Gadabay field, and consequently copper, gold, and silver was extracted in large amount from the middle 19th century. In 1990-2001 re-exploration works were carried out, reserves of gold, silver, and copper subsisting in troglodytic wastes, as well as in rooty rocks were estimated with the purpose of determination of remnant reserves of gold and copper in Gadabay deposit.
Zod deposit – is located at the border of Kalbajar region of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Basarkechar (Vardenis) region of the Republic of Armenia. The deposit was revealed in 1951 by «Caucasian-gold-exploration» agency. Although major part of the field is situated in the territory of Kalbajar region, exploration works were implemented by USSR Geology Agency and Armenian Non-Ferrous Metallurgy Agency for unknown reasons. Nevertheless only 7 ore veins of 23 of them belong to the area of Armenia, Zod deposit was exposed to deliberate falsification in geological materials and maps presented by Armenians at the State Reserves Commission operating under erstwhile USSR Soviet of Ministers and subsequently it was accepted that the field totally pertained to Armenia. Exploitation of the deposit was started since 1976.
Vejnali deposit – is situated in Zangilan region, 4-5 km of Agband railway station. The field is included to quartz-gold-sulphide-bearing vascular geological-industrial type. 25 gold-bearing veins were revealed and estimated within the deposit. Industrially significant gold reserves are concentrated in 6 quartz-chalcopyrite, quartz-carbonate-pyrite- chalcopyrite-bearing veins.
Contact of the whole ore veins with neighboring rocks is acute and they are characterized with oscillation of thicknesses from 10 cm to 4.0 m.
Primary useful component in the ore content is gold. Furthermore silver, copper, tellurium, bismute exist in extractable amount in the ore composition. Large scale gold subsists in the ore content. In this regard the amount of «free» gold is 9.8 %, while 85.3 % in compound form.
The ores are purported to be enriched by using gravitation-flotation diagram. 96.52 % gold, 97.38 % silver, 95.9 % tellurium and 65 % bismute is able to be extracted. The deposit was prepared for industrial utilization.
Agyurd deposit – is located in Ordubad region, 40 km north-west of Ordubad city.
The deposit was formed in endocontact of Mehri-Ordubad granitoid tract. Ore masses containing veins and vascular zones are included to gold-sulphide-quartz formation. Main minerals in the ore content are pyrite and chalcopyrite, while inferior minerals include magnetite, pyrrhotite, sfalerite, molybdenite and etc. Gold in the ore content subsists in free form (54 %) and in sulphides (50-55 %). The fundamental utilitarian components are gold, silver and copper.
85% gold can be extracted off the ore once ores will be enriched based on gravitation-flotation scheme.
Pyazbashi deposit – is situated in exocontact of Mehri-Ordubad massif, in paleogenous age sedimentary rocks, 2.0-2.5 km west of Agyurd deposit.
Up to 50 quartz-sulphide veins exist inside the deposit. 5 of them were relatively exactly estimated and have industrial significance. Thickness of the veins vacillates between 0.2 m to 1.5-2.0 m and is composed mostly of quartz and pyrite.
The field will be exploited at single refining fabric according to identical technological scheme along with Agyurd deposit.
Shakardara deposit – is located in 1.8-2.0 km south of Pyazbashi deposit and was explored in 60-100 m depth from earth surface through caves. Basic ore-bearing and ore-storing structure is Nusnus-Kalaki-Mazra depth fragment in north-west direction (2900-3200). It is represented with highly thick quartzose, kaolinic and ironing zones of andesite-bearing lava-pyroclastic rocks.
Ore masses are divided into two morphological types: 1) vascular zones changing between 1000-1200 m in length and 2-5-13-20 m in thickness, and 2) metasomatites strip bearing veinlet-porous sulphide mineralization stretching in the distance of 850-900 m and in volatile thickness (from 90-100 m to 300-350 m).
The basic utilitarian components are gold, silver and copper.
Agduzdag deposit – is situated in south-east of Kalbajar region. Up to 1000 gold-bearing quartz, quartz-carbonate veins exist in the area of the field. Industrially significant gold mineralization was determined in 5 of them. Average amount of gold was 6.72 g/t. Taking into consideration its easy enrichment and gold extraction, as well as possibility of implementation of pile alkalization technology, reserves of the deposit can be increased thrice and four times due to veins and vascular rocks containing comparatively low amount of gold (up to 1.5 g/t).
Chovdar deposit – is located in the territory of Dashkasan region. The gold mineralization was formed in upper bios aged derivative quartzite. Several egresses of this type quartzite were defined in the deposit area. Features of geological structure of the deposit, widespread hydrothermal-changing rocks, as well as existence of gunpowder-polymetal veins, polymetal and copper-sulphide-bearing veinlet-porous mineralization field indicate its high perspective. The amount of gold holds 8-10 g/t on average oscillating in great amplitude (from 1 g/t to100 g/t and more) in «Markaz» ore body limited and explored partially deep area (up to 150 m).
Bashkandchay splatter gold deposit – encompasses 1500 m interval in downstream of Bashkandchay, from its confluence with Alinjachay to Khoshkeshin waterfall in Nakhichevan AR. Industrially significant splatter gold piles were determined in various terrace levels of alluvial and deluvial sediments. The amount of gold in the first terrace level fluctuates between 294-448 mg/m3, while 248-464 mg/m3 in the second terrace level. The amount of gold in deluvial sediments reaches 172-685 mg/m3 in different tests. Taking into account non-opening of bedding surface in which more gold is concentrated in upper terrace levels, it can be considered that the deposit holds more reserves.
Kurakchay splatter gold deposit – is situated in Chaykand-Dozular portion of the same name river in Kurakchay basin. Exploration-assessment works were conducted in the deposit and it was prepared for industrial utilization. Alluvial sediments were limited by adoption of odd quantity-50 mg/m3.