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Geomechanical modelling of the Ernest Henry iron oxide copper gold deposit – identifying fluid pathways to predict potential mineralised zones

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Author J G McLellan and B Miller

Description

Copper and Gold mineralisation at the Ernest Henry deposit is bound by two controlling shears along the hanging wall and footwall margins. The shear zone geometries have been influenced by a large diorite intrusion, dated at ca. 1660 Ma, which lies to the north-east and south-west of the main orebody. The shear zones, which partitioned strain prior to the main mineralising event ca. 1514–1504 Ma, and in conjunction with adjacent regional structures, have been a critical factor in the deposit location and geometry. Conventional exploration techniques have been utilised proximal to the current deposit since the initial discovery in order to expand upon known resources, with limited success. However, new geomechanical modelling techniques have now been employed to target structurally controlled mineralised zones in three dimensions. The main aim of the geomechanical modelling was to simulate the effects of regional deformation events to highlight areas of anomalous strain, which indicate areas with a higher likelihood of fluid focusing and mineralisation potential. This project was focused on testing the latter stages of a D3 event (NE-SW compression) to examine preconditioning of the system, and a D4 event (SE-NW compression) which have ultimately been responsible for the current location of the mineralisation.

CITATION:

McLellan, J G and Miller, B, 2017. Geomechanical modelling of the Ernest Henry iron oxide copper gold deposit – identifying fluid pathways to predict potential mineralised zones, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 75–82 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).