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Application of normative ore mineralogy to geological and metallurgical data sets at the Hera Au-Pb-Zn-Ag mine, New South Wales, Australia

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Author A R McKinnon

Description

The recently opened Hera Au-Pb-Zn-Ag mine in central New South Wales has provided an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the calculation of sulfide ore mineralogy using normative methods. Normative mineralogy applies a set of sequential rules based on the species likely to be present to assign the chemical components of a sample to their respective mineral components. The dominant sulfide mineral assemblage present at Hera is galena, iron-bearing sphalerite, chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite and pyrite. A normative technique for estimating the relative abundance of each of these species from drill hole, grade control and metallurgical assay data sets has been developed. This includes a process for deriving a gangue iron value and differentiating pyrrhotite from pyrite using sulfur/iron ratios. A calculated total sulfide volume value has been utilised at the mine to improve interpretation of lode boundaries. Normative drill hole values have also been used for domaining within the orebody, with large scale mineralogical trends evident. Dry bulk density (BD) values calculated using a normative species-weighted method show good correlation with measured BD values (R2 = 0.895) and are a significant improvement on the Pb+Zn+Cu regression method (R2 = 0.646) previously used. Application of these calculations to identify errors in assay databases is demonstrated, with specific reference to the data set for the nearby Nymagee copper deposit. Validation of block model grades is also explored and a method to improve resource estimates using direct normative mineral interpolation is proposed. The integration of the normative data into the production and metallurgical data sets at Hera is described and the relationship of the normative minerals to other economic elements such as gold and silver is discussed.

CITATION:

McKinnon, A R, 2017. Application of normative ore mineralogy to geological and metallurgical data sets at the Hera Au-Pb-Zn-Ag mine, New South Wales, Australia, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 63–74 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).