any of several natural mineral formations consisting of metal sulfides. Metal selenides, tellurides, arsenides, and antimonides are also classified among the sulfide ores.
Sulfide ores are an important source for the production of Ni, Co, Cu, Zn, Pb, Mo, Bi, Sb, and Hg. They contain not only sulfides but also other minerals, including minerals that do not contain metals—for example, quartz and calcite, and sometimes barite and micaceous minerals. A distinction is made between massive ores, in which sulfides are predominant, and disseminated ores, in which nonsulfide minerals are predominant. Sulfide ores may be simple or complex. Complex sulfide ores containing sulfides of copper, zinc, and lead are especially common, as are complex copper, nickel, cobalt, antimony, and mercury ores. Many sulfide ores contain Pt, Au, Ag, Cd, In, Se, and Te as admixtures.
Most deposits of sulfide ores are endogenous, and among those, hydrothermal deposits predominate. The ore bodies are most often veins, but they may also be sheets, lenses, stocks, and pipes. The length and depth of such bodies range from hundreds of meters to several kilometers. The reserves of sulfide ore reach billions of tons, and the reserves of metal are as high as millions of tons. The metal content in the ore ranges from several tenths of a percent to 20–50 percent. (See alsoPYRITES.)
REFERENCESmirnov, V. I. Geologiia poleznykh iskopaemykh, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1969.
V. I. SMIRNOV