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Ores drive operations; economic geology is the foundation of geometallurgy

Karin E. Olson Hoal and Max Frenzel
Ores drive operations; economic geology is the foundation of geometallurgy
SEG Discovery (April 2022) 129: 30-43


Economic geology and geometallurgy are intimately linked. Geologists understand the value in knowing the details of ore variability, the formation of mineral deposits, the continuity and the spatial distribution of ore types, and the mineral and textural characteristics that control grades. Beyond exploration and discovery, however, explorers may not recognize that the geologic knowledge developed around a mineral prospect is also essential to miners and metallurgists, reclamation and environmental specialists, and economists and investors who are interested in developing the discovery. Geometallurgy is the interdisciplinary method that links geologic, mineralogical, and geochemical characteristics of mineral deposits to the mining, processing, and metallurgical activities that are involved in the development of mines. Geometallurgy is not a new field, but recent developments in analytical capabilities and the ability to conduct statistical analysis and predictive modeling of large data sets have resulted in geometallurgy becoming a widely used method for optimizing mining operations. While there are many approaches, depending upon the nature of the ore deposit and the mine operating conditions and goals, the most important step explorers can take is to establish partnerships with the other areas of specialization in the project (mining, metallurgy, environmental, economics) and work together to understand the critical factors in order to best develop the deposit. Representative sampling to determine geologic variability and uncertainty and understanding the controls of throughput and recovery in the mining operation are fundamental to optimizing projects. For exploration and prefeasibility timelines, information on ore characteristics and spatial variability can provide a preliminary assessment of how material in a potential ore deposit can be processed.

ISSN: 2694-0655
EISSN: 2694-0663
Serial Title: SEG Discovery
Serial Volume: 129
Title: Ores drive operations; economic geology is the foundation of geometallurgy
Affiliation: Cornell University, Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Ithaca, NY, United States
Pages: 30-43
Published: 202204
Text Language: English
Publisher: Society of Economic Geologists, Littleton, CO, United States
References: 74
Accession Number: 2022-020591
Categories: Economic geology, geology of ore deposits
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Annotation: Geology and mining series; a digital appendix is available online
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 1 table
Secondary Affiliation: Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology, DEU, Germany
Country of Publication: United States
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2022, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data supplied by Society of Exploration Geophysicists, Tulsa, OK, United States
Update Code: 202217
Program Name: SDG 12Responsible Consumption and Production
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