The Bald Mountain mining district has produced about 2 million ounces (Moz) of Au. Geologic mapping, field relationships, geochemical data, petrographic observations, fluid inclusion characteristics, and Pb, S, O, and H isotope data indicate that Au mineralization was associated with a reduced Jurassic intrusion. Gold deposits are localized within and surrounding a Jurassic (159 Ma) quartz monzonite porphyry pluton and dike complex that intrudes Cambrian to Mississippian carbonate and clastic rocks. The pluton, associated dikes, and Au mineralization were controlled by a crustal-scale northwest-trending structure named the Bida trend. Gold deposits are localized by fracture networks in the pluton and the contact metamorphic aureole, dike margins, high-angle faults, and certain strata or shale-limestone contacts in sedimentary rocks. Gold mineralization was accompanied by silicification and phyllic alteration, ±argillic alteration at shallow levels. Although Au is typically present throughout, the system exhibits a classic concentric geochemical zonation pattern with Mo, W, Bi, and Cu near the center, Ag, Pb, and Zn at intermediate distances, and As and Sb peripheral to the intrusion. Near the center of the system, micron-sized native Au occurs with base metal sulfides and sulfosalts. In peripheral deposits and in later stages of mineralization, Au is typically submicron in size and resides in pyrite or arsenopyrite. Electron microprobe and laser ablation ICP-MS analyses show that arsenopyrite, pyrite, and Bi sulfide minerals contain 10s to 1,000s of ppm Au. Ore-forming fluids were aqueous and carbonic at deep levels and episodically hypersaline at shallow levels due to boiling. The isotopic compositions of H and O in quartz and sericite and S and Pb in sulfides are indicative of magmatic ore fluids with sedimentary sulfur. Together, the evidence suggests that Au was introduced by reduced S-bearing magmatic fluids derived from a reduced intrusion. The reduced character of the intrusion was caused by assimilation of carbonaceous sedimentary rocks.
Tertiary faults dismember the area and drop down the upper part of the mineralizing system to the west. The abundant and widespread kaolinite in oxide ores is relatively disordered (1A polytype) and has δD and δ18O values suggestive of a supergene origin. The deep weathering and oxidation of the ores associated with exhumation made them amenable to open-pit mining and processing using cyanide heap leach methods.