Erratic and unpredictable distributions of gold impose serious limitations for the successful prospection and exploitation of gold deposits. The problem is especially acute in Europe where the average grade of mesothermal gold-quartz veins, one of the principal targets for SME mining companies, falls below lOg/t gold. The formation of these low-tonnage high-grade deposits is well understood and, on a regional scale, potential ore zones can be identified using conventional exploration techniques. However, on the scale of individual veins, current metallogenic models cannot predict the location of discrete high-grade ore shoots that determine the economic viability of the deposits. This increases investment risk and discourages SME exploration activity in the EU. Strong circumstantial, evidence suggests that the formation of high-grade ores does not conform to the general mesothermal gold model. but is the result of remobilization and enrichment by low temperature fluids. By using an integrated Fluid inclusion mineralogical and microstructural approach it is proposed to demonstrate that (1) remobilization plays a critical role in the development of high-grade ores and (2) enrichment leaves a diagnostic geochemical and structural fingerprint that can be detected and used to predict the location of high-grade ore shoots. The industrial objective of the research is to provide a cost-effective geochemical exploration tool that locates high-grade ore shoots in mesothermal gold-quartz veins using drill-core samples. Two technical innovations are required to meet this objective. First, there is a need to develop new detection methodologies based on the integrated geochemical and microstructural signature of vein quartz. These will assist in geostatistical modelling and provide more precise drilling vectors. Second, existing analytical techniques and methodologies, which have the capability of identifying high-grade signatures, are cost intensive and considered uneconomic in terms of current exploration strategies. Hence. there is a need to develop novel measurement methodologie based on automation of sample preparation/analysis and knowledge engineering. Advances in this field significantly reduce these costs, allowing the new methodologies to be factored into conventional drilling programmes.
Funding SchemeEAW - Exploratory awards
SN2 1EU Swindon