Geomet Applications of Geochemistry: Extracting Maximum Value from Your Database

CIM Montreal 2015
Pim van Geffen (REFLEX), Britt Bluemel (REFLEX)
A key problem facing geoscientists, metallurgists and process engineers is the communication breakdown between the exploration and production teams. This siloing is generally unintentional, as a typical project may change ownership several times over several decades before it reaches the feasibility and operation stages. Most exploration projects generate lots of high-quality, quantitative data with great spatial resolution, but unfortunately these data are often ignored in subsequent deposit modelling. Instead, deposit models tend to rely on subjective, non-standardized, qualitative classification of geological materials (e.g. rock type, mineral abundance) and processes (e.g. hydrothermal alteration), obtained through visual logging of drill cores.
When exploration projects advance to pre-feasibility studies, the required quantitative data are obtained through expensive metallurgical test work and detailed mineralogical quantification (e.g. QEMScan, qXRD). These detailed tests are generally only performed on a small number of large composite samples and the results are extrapolated throughout the deposit, inherently underrepresenting the true variability.
Geochemical data obtained during all stages of the project provide comprehensive data coverage at much greater detail and spatial resolution. Existing lithogeochemical data can be used to quantify mineralogy and geological processes, which in turn allows for the estimation key metallurgical performance parameters that are required for accurate deposit modelling and domaining. Early-stage implementation of an appropriate sampling program with full utilization of the data is essential to assess the true potential of a deposit. Although a geomet assessment may or may not increase the grade and tonnage of a resource, it will dramatically reduce the uncertainty and risk involved with its development and production.
Keywords: Applied Geochemistry, Geomet, Metallurgy, Mineral Exploration
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