The principal objective of this RTD project is to develop a new, low cost geochemical methodology for the exploration of deep metalliferous ores. The chemical composition (including physico chemical parameters and metal content) of groundwater circulating through a deep ore reflects the chemical interactions occurring between the water and specific minerals of the ore.
The present research is based on the hypothesis that it should be possible to detect the presence of buried ore through the chemical composition of near surface groundwater containing dissolved compounds (metals and others) transported through convection and diffusion. The methodology will be applicable for shallow boreholes using specific sampling and highly sensitive real time analysis tools to be developed within the framework of this project. If validated, this methodology will save kilometers of exploration drilling, and hence present an important economic impact. It will also be a means to valorize barren boreholes. The developed sampling and analytical tools will have a direct application in domains related to environmental impact studies, in particular concerning mining activities.
After selection of the site and verification of its equipment, the main tasks of this project, which requires a multidisciplinary approach (geochemistry, hydrogeology, chemistry, mineralogy, instrumentation, geology...), will include:
1) elaboration of a conceptual model of metal transfer,
2) development of specialized sampling and analytical tools, 3) data acquisition from cores,
4) data acquisition from fluids,
5) modeling water rock interactions,
6) determination of the environmental factor
7) preparation of application guidelines.
Validation of the methodology will be performed by teams from Spain, Italy and France at an experimental site located in the southern Iberian Pyrite Belt chosen for its abundance of known polymetallic orebodies and its potential in undiscovered deep resources. This means that the methodology will have a direct application for exploration in Southern Spain and Portugal. In longer term, it could be applied within the same mineralized Hercynian orogenic belt that passes through France and extends into Eastern Europe, and later to other orogenic belts throughout the world.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts