Tin and Tungsten Exploration in Australia

Pollard P J,
Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 2
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1988
Australia is well endowed with both tin and tungsten resources, and is currently a significant producer of both commodities for the international market. The intensity of exploration activity for both metals has been rather sporadic, reflecting the changing market situation. Thus tin has experienced three major boom periods around 1880, 1907 and 1983, while tungsten prices peaked around 1917, 1953, 1970 and 1977. During the earlier periods, the major discoveries were located utilising simple prospecting techniques involving creek travers- ing and stream sediment panning. The resulting location of tin alluvials quickly led to the discovery of adjacent primary deposits. The major tungsten deposits were composed of quartz- wolframite, which was readily visible as mineralised float both within the drainage systems and on scree slopes. Thus by the early 1900s most of the currently significant deposits had been located. More recent exploration approaches have combined these tradi- tional methods with the development of exploration models based on evolving genetic concepts. Within tin systems the emergence of province styles of clas- sification combined with enhanced perceptions of tonnage-grade characteristics and improved geological models has enabled more effective exploration strategies. Province classification at the inter- national scale demonstrated a clear relationship between deposit type and geological environment and thus considerable attention was given to the range of provinces present within Australia. Tonnage-grade diagrams enabled the refinement of economic per- spectives, while detailed models provided the basis for localised search parameters.
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