Cyprus has both metallic and non-metallic (industrial) mineral resources. The metallic mineral resources and the asbestos deposits are associated with the Troodos Ophiolite. The metallic mineral resources include chromite and sulphides such as copper and pyrite ores. The industrial minerals include gypsum, crushed aggregates, clay, bentonite, chalk, marl, building stone, and natural pigments.
The genesis of chromite is directly associated with the genesis of the ophiolite and in particular with the plutonic rocks (dunite) through the process of fractional crystallisation of the magma.
The sulphide deposits are associated with the pillow lavas of the Troodos Ophiolite. More than 30 deposits have been discovered, ranging in size from less than 50,000 tonnes to more than 20,000,000 tonnes with a copper content from less than 0.3% to 4.5%. Chalcopyrite, chalcocite, covellite, bornite and cuprite represent the main copper minerals. The origin of the pyrite ore bodies is associated with the formation of new oceanic crust through seafloor spreading. The production of copper from sulphide deposits in Cyprus goes back to the Bronze Age. Slag deposits are remnants of the ancient exploitation. Today, there is only one copper mine in operation.
Cyprus has been known for its asbestos since the Classical and Roman times. Chrysotile asbestos is a fibrous mineral found in veins. The genesis of asbestos is associated with the serpentinisation of the harzburgite (basal lithologic unit of the ophiolite). Asbestos has been mined from 1904 to 1988.
· Gypsum is an industrial mineral with a variety of uses that is found in many areas in Cyprus. It is one of the evaporite minerals, formed from the evaporation of sea water.
· Crushed aggregates (sand and gravels) are produced from diabase, reef limestone (Koronia and Terra Members of the Pakhna Formation) and calcarenite (Nicosia and Athalassa Fms).
· Clays suitable for brick, tile and pottery manufacture are sourced from sedimentary deposits of the Nicosia and Kythrea Formations, from alluvial deposits and from altered and weathered igneous rocks. Clays are also used in the cement industry.
· Bentonite is a type of clay that was deposited as a deep-water sediment from the alteration of volcanic material. The main uses of bentonite include drilling muds, foundry sand binders, civil engineering, iron ore pelletisation and pet litter.
· Raw materials for the manufacture of cement comprise chalk, marl and gypsum. These are all widely available in Cyprus.
· Building stone was for centuries the main construction material. The type of stone was related to the rocks of each area, such as gabbro, diabase, and harzburgite in the mountainous areas, and chalk, limestone and calcarenite elsewhere.
· Cyprus is known since the antiquity for its natural pigments such as umber, ochre and terra verde, all associated with the ophiolite.
MINOR MINERAL RESOURCES
Magnesite, celestite, recrystallised limestone (marble) and minerals containing manganese, nickel, cobalt, zinc, gold and silver represent the island’s minor mineral resources.
Magnesite (MgCO3) occurs in Cyprus in the Akamas Peninsula and in the Limassol Forest area. It is found in the form of veins, lenses or irregular masses in serpentinised ultrabasic rocks. It results from the decomposition of the host rock. The veins are generally thin, rarely exceeding 3 m in thickness and often more or less parallel to each other. They are spread within the altered mother rock and large quantities of host are extracted for a low production of magnesite. Exploitation of magnesite was sporadic in Cyprus between 1921-1922 and 1944-1953. About 1,750 tonnes of magnesite have been extracted containing an average of 95% magnesium carbonate.
A small deposit of celestite (SrCO3) was discovered in 1977 in the southern part of Cyprus near Maroni village. It occurs at the contact between the Kalavassos Formation and the Koronia Member of the Pakhna Formation and is associated with reef limestone.
Recrystallised limestone of Triassic to Cretaceous age (known as marble) of the Mamonia Complex has been quarried as raw material for the production of mosaic tiles. It occurs as large detached, exotic blocks, from few tens of cubic metres to more than 100,000 m3, enclosed within the generally softer Mamonia Mιlange. The limestone is extracted on a small scale and crushed and screened on site. The product has good colour, strength, polishing characteristics and low porosity. It is incorporated into cement tiles that are then polished. Recrystallised limestone and dolomite from the Pentadaktylos Range of Carboniferous to Miocene age can also be used.
Historically, interest has been shown in minerals bearing manganese, nickel, cobalt, zinc, gold and silver. The main manganese occurrences are located in the Perapedhi Formation, often associated with the umber deposits where it is present as oxides in small nodules of psilomelane and pyrolusite. It also occurs in association with chert in the Mamonia Formation (Ayios Photios Group), and also in narrow veins along faults in the pillow lavas. It has been reported that masses up to one tonne in weight have been collected for export, and a production of around 200 tonnes occurred between 1926 and 1957. Manganese occurrences have also been identified in the Karpas Peninsula near the villages of Leonarisso and Platanissos.
Nickel and cobalt in minor quantities are associated with pyrrhotite, found in the ultrabasic sequence of the Troodos Ophiolite. Zinc is found in small amounts in massive sulphides, but only of commercial interest at Agrokipia underground and Kynousa Mines. Gold and silver are found in small quantities associated with the massive sulphides. They occurred in elevated quantities mainly in the supergene zones above massive sulphide deposits (the gossan, which is an iron-bearing weathered product overlying a sulphide deposit, formed by the oxidation of sulphides) and notably in soft, spongy, friable masses of white silicates referred to as “Devil's Mud”. Gold and silver were produced in Cyprus by the cyanidation process between 1934 and 1944. Before then, consignments were exported for treatment. Gold and silver is also produced today by Hellenic Copper Mines Ltd in the form of a gold, silver and copper alloy (Dore).
Additional information about the Mineral resources of Cyprus can be found at the link ### (Τρίπτυχο για τους Ορυκτούς Πόρους στην Αγγλική)