Gold–(silver) telluride minerals constitute a major part of the gold endowment at a number of important deposits across the globe. A brief overview of the chemistry and structure of the main gold and silver telluride minerals is presented, focusing on the relationships between calaverite, krennerite, and sylvanite, which have overlapping compositions. These three minerals are replaced by gold–silver alloys when subjected to the actions of hydrothermal fluids under mild hydrothermal conditions (≤220 ◦ C). An overview of the product textures, reaction mechanisms, and kinetics of the oxidative leaching of tellurium from gold–(silver) tellurides is presented. For calaverite and krennerite, the replacement reactions are relatively simple interface-coupled dissolution-reprecipitation reactions. In these reactions, the telluride minerals dissolve at the reaction interface and gold immediately precipitates and grows as gold filaments; the tellurium is oxidized to Te(IV) and is lost to the bulk solution. The replacement of sylvanite is more complex and involves two competing pathways leading to either a gold spongy alloy or a mixture of calaverite, hessite, and petzite. This work highlights the substantial progress that has been made in recent years towards understanding the mineralization processes of natural gold–(silver) telluride minerals and mustard gold under hydrothermal conditions. The results of these studies have potential implications for the industrial treatment of gold-bearing telluride minerals.
- Gold-(silver) tellurides
- Hydrothermal method
- Interface-coupled dissolution-reprecipitation
- Natural porous gold