EART4002 Lect3 Mineral Exploration

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Published on April 22, 2008

Author: Bina

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Field Mapping and Economic Geology EART 4002 (012999) :  Lecture 3 – Mineral Exploration Dr. Solomon Buckman Rm P1-39 Email: solomon.buckman@unisa.edu.au Field Mapping and Economic Geology EART 4002 (012999) Texts/References:  Texts/References Evans, 1995. Introduction to Mineral Exploration. Blackwell Science. AGSO, 2001. Australia’s Mineral Exploration. http://www.agso.gov.au/pdf/minerals/pmseic_28jun01.pdf Marjoribanks 1997. Geological Methods in Mineral Exploration and Mining. Chapman and Hall. Week 1 An Introduction to Mineral Exploration:  Week 1 An Introduction to Mineral Exploration Mineral exploration is a high-risk enterprise Mineral exploration is inherently difficult because it incorporates numerous geological variables and processes that have been operating for millions/billions of years Mineral exploration is a multi-disciplinary field incorporating geology, geochemistry & geophysics to aid in the discovery of ore deposits Mineral Exploration:  Mineral Exploration Exploration:  Exploration “WMC attributes its growth entirely to successful exploration which, in turn, is attributed to the successful application of geological science.” Roy Woodall, former Director of Exploration, WMC, 1983. “…mines formed probably the most efficient industry in Australia, by international standards, but a big section of the public and many politicians came to think that the dazzling procession of mineral discoveries had depended more on luck than on effort and ingenuity.” Geoffrey Blainey, historian, 1993. Background – Mineral Resources:  Background – Mineral Resources Our mineral resource crisis – mineral consumption is growing even faster than the population Most minerals are used in more developed countries (MDC) with relatively small consumption in less developed countries eg MDC’s account for 16% of population but consume 70% of world aluminium, copper, and nickle, 58% of world oil, 48% gas and 37% coal. As the standard of living in LDC’s increases they will begin to increase consumption of their minerals “Our civilization is based on mineral resources” If global population increases as rapidly, the pressure to find and produce minerals will be enourmous, as will the potential pollution related to their extraction and use. Exploration:  Exploration In 2000, Aust attracted 17% of the world’s total exploration expenditure Mines have a finite lifespan, without exploration there will be no new mines Mineral exploration is inherently high-risk. Many exploration geologist will go a lifetime without finding a significant deposit. Profitable mines are extremely rare commodities and their location is often concealed beneath 100’s metres of soil and sediment. Many millions of dollars are spent each year by companies with little or no reward Australia’s share of exploration:  Australia’s share of exploration Rapid decline recently during one of the largest commodity booms of all time Can we as a nation afford to ignore this lack of exploration and continue to rely on existing deposits which will eventually run dry? What will be the impacts on our economy and standard of living? Exploration:  Exploration What is at risk? Australia’s mineral resources aren’t “magic puddings”. Exploration is needed to ensure the supply of metals, materials and energy used in our daily lives. New mining projects take between five and ten years to proceed from exploration and discovery to production. Australia is almost five years into a period of inadequate exploration. There is currently a 2-3 year window before mine closures and loss of mineral production exceeds development of new resources. Shear size of the mining industry means that it alone has the potential to dramatically change the environment, economy and social wellbeing of Australia and it’s people either positively or negatively. Therefore, it is vital that this industry be run sustainably. We should not be running away from this industry but rather looking at it as an opportunity to make changes that can significantly reduce our impact on the environment. Case Study – Olympic Dam:  Case Study – Olympic Dam South Australia Invests $15 million to Promote Exploration:  South Australia Invests $15 million to Promote Exploration http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/pages/minerals/initiatives/pdf/unlocking_sa_brochure.pdf Real income – Olympic Dam – a high-risk, high-reward exploration initiative Misleading exploration results – in their worst form can lead to global commodity slumps eg BreEx scandal and gold slump 1996-97. Investor confidence lost. Government Incentives:  Government Incentives PACE initiative in SA http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/dhtml/ss/section.php?sectID=1991&tempID=63 Factors Controlling Mineral Availability:  Factors Controlling Mineral Availability Geologic Factors - constant Engineering Factors – decreasing ie technology Environmental Factors – increasing rapidly Economic Factors – variable Minerals and Global Economic Patterns:  Minerals and Global Economic Patterns The impact of minerals on the global economy is enormous. Primary (not including recycling) fuel, metal and industrial mineral production are worth ~$700, $500 & $150 billion (Fig 1.7, 1992) The New Era of World Minerals:  The New Era of World Minerals Traditional geologic, engineering and economic constraints are being joined by limitations imposed by environmental considerations. Dealing with these many factors to supply the next generation with mineral resources will require compromises based on a full understanding of the issues. Mineralogy of Economic Deposits:  Mineralogy of Economic Deposits Mineral Deposit Geology:  Mineral Deposit Geology Nature and Morphology of Orebodies Size and shape Discordant orebodies Regularly shaped – veins, faults, pipes, chimneys Irregularly shaped – disseminated, stockwork Irregular replacement – skarn Concordant orebodies Sedimentary hosts – BIFs, limestone replacement Igneous hosts – VMS, layered intrusives Metamorphic hosts – Kanmantoo Residual deposits - bauxite Discordant regularly shaped orebodies:  Discordant regularly shaped orebodies Discordant irregularly shaped orebodies:  Discordant irregularly shaped orebodies Sedimentary Hosts:  Sedimentary Hosts Limestone replacement parallel to bedding and a limited development perpendicular to it, therefore stratiform. Stratabound – any type of orebody, concordant or discordant, which are restricted to a particular part of the stratigraphic column VMS:  VMS Mineral Deposit Geology:  Mineral Deposit Geology Wall rock alteration Alteration halo eg garnet Cannington Ag-Pb-Zn Plate tectonics and the global distribution of ore deposits Metallogenic provinces and epochs Mineral deposits in the principle plate tectonic regimes Mineral deposits in the principle plate tectonic regimes:  Mineral deposits in the principle plate tectonic regimes Continental interior basins, intra-continental rifts and aulacogens Inland seas – Kupfershiefer copper shales, Bushveld Complex Ocean basins and rises:  Ocean basins and rises Passive continental margins:  Passive continental margins Mississippi Valley type – stratiform sandstone hosted Cu-Pb-Zn deposits Subduction related settings:  Subduction related settings Shear zone settings:  Shear zone settings www.ualberta.ca/~jwaldron/gallerypages/shear.html pubs.usgs.gov/gip/earthq3/ Transtension Transpression The Field Geologist:  The Field Geologist A basic understanding of mineral deposit characteristics and genesis requires detailed mapping of rock types, alteration halos and structural relationships Successful exploration requires knowledge gained from detailed mapping and sampling of existing deposits to produce predictive models of the likely locations of the next deposits Much of the exploration today is occurring in regions of surficial cover (regolith or alluvium)

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