Petrological, geochemical, and mineralogical compositions of the low-Ge coals from the Shengli Coalfield, China: A comparative study with Ge-rich coals and a formation model for coal-hosted Ge ore deposit

Shifeng Dai, Jingjing Liu, Colin R. Ward, James C. Hower, Panpan Xie, Yaofa Jiang, Madison M. Hood, Jennifer M.K. O'Keefe, Hongjian Song

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120 Scopus citations


To better understand the formation mechanism of coal-hosted Ge ore deposits, this paper reports on the petrological, mineralogical, and geochemical compositions of the low-Ge coals in the Shengli Coalfield (Inner Mongolia, China), using optical microscopy, field emission-scanning electron microscopy, X-ray fluorescence, X-ray diffraction, and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. The samples in the present study closely neighbor the previously-reported Wulantuga coal-hosted Ge ore deposit (both No. 6 Coal). In comparison with the Wulantuga Ge-rich coals, the low-Ge coals of the Shengli field display higher moisture (27.59% on average) and lower pyritic sulfur contents (0.53%). Both the low-Ge and Ge-rich coals are generally high in inertinite, and have varying but relatively low huminite contents. Preservation of fecal pellets as macrinite is notable in both the low-Ge and Ge-rich coals, and the position of the fecal pellets appears to be within tunnels or chambers within the wood. Quartz, kaolinite, pyrite, and gypsum are the major crystalline phases identified in most of the Ge-rich and low-Ge coals, but the low-Ge coals contain significantly less pyrite and are more abundant in non-mineral Ca and Mg. Ca-oxalate of authigenic origin is observed, generally occurring as cell-fillings in the low-Ge coals. Otherwise mineral-free organic matter in the low-Ge coals would be expected to have an inherent ash yield of around 6%, derived from the inorganic elements (mainly non-mineral Ca and Mg) that occur either in the organic matter or as dissolved ions in the pore water and form the sulfate species in low-temperature (oxygen-plasma) ash residues. The highly-elevated trace elements, including Be, Ge, As, Sb, W, Hg, and Tl, that occur in the Ge-rich coals of the Wulantuga deposit, are significantly depleted in the low-Ge coals. Lateral migration of Ge-W- and As-Hg-Sb-Tl-rich solutions through the original peat swamp for the Wulantuga Ge ore deposit has led to significant enrichment of Ge on the margin of the coal basin but decreasing Ge concentrations toward to the inner part of the basin. Such a migration direction is different to those in the previously-reported for the hydrothermal solutions in the Lincang (Yunnan of China) and Spetzugli (Russian Far East) Ge ore deposits, where the solutions migrated vertically from granite to peat along faults and led to a dome-shaped Ge distribution in the relevant coal seam.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-349
Number of pages32
JournalOre Geology Reviews
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by the National Key Basic Research Program of China (No. 2014CB238902 ) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41420104001 and 41172143 ). Many thanks are given to Dr. Yuegang Tang and Mr. Xiaolin Song for their help with sample collection.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • Early cretaceous coal
  • Germanium ore deposit
  • Minerals in coal
  • Trace elements in coal
  • Wulantuga

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Economic Geology


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