Types of Supergene Gold to be Expected on the Pacific Regions

Organization: The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Pages: 4
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1987
This paper reviews some of the factors thought to control the formation of supergene gold in the Pacific and its Rim. Discussion of these should lead to reassessment of the economic potential of many areas. In several parts of the world many gold-bearing veins display rich gold values only in the oxidized zone, whereas beneath the present (or ancient) watertable the unaltered vein commonly holds only sub-economic refractory low grade sulphides or arsenides. In the Eastern Highlands of Australia some of the most spectacular concentrations of - gold have been found at shallow depths. For example, Harper (1918) describes the Canton mine in New South Wales which was stoped over a length of 180 metres from the 45 metre level to the surface. The reef yielded gold at 300 g/t in the upper levels, but became gradually poorer at depth. Present geologists of N.S.W. Geol. Survey, G.R. Mcllveen and B.P.J. Stevens, believe that many similar Australian enrichments were formed between the surface and its ancient water table level during the extended period of weathering in the Eocene or pre-Eocene. They concede, however, that further supergene movement of gold may have occurred since the early Tertiary. Large quantities of Mesozoic supergene gold of extreme fineness (Au 99.7%, Cu +òFe 0.3%; Leibius 1885) was found at Mt. Morgan near the Tropic of Capricorn in Queensland. Lower Jurassic sediments cover part of the gossan in a small depression caused by oxidation and collapse of the Main Pipe, thus showing that the supergene gold is pre-Lower Jurassic (Cornelius, 1968). Because the Lower Jurassic landscape around Mt. Morgan was mature with a surface slope of less than 10 (Playford and Cornelius, 1967), erosion would have been very slow. Moreover, once all sulphides had been removed from the ore body the Lower Jurassic environment would have reverted from highly acid to alkaline as it is at present. Accordingly, gold, goethite and 1. Dept. of Geology & Mineralogy, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Australia,
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