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Using existing data to improve the delineation of ore at the Olympic Dam Fe-oxide Cu-U-Au-Ag deposit


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Author J Griffith and K Ehrig


An extensive suite of elements are routinely assayed on all resource drill core samples to assist in deposit scale resource definition, local mine scale delineation of ore zones, and ore characterisation for the planning and scheduling of mining and processing of ores at Olympic Dam. This paper discusses a deposit scale geochemical relation that can be used by mine geologists to find more high-grade ore at the local mine area scale at Olympic Dam.

A 3D grade shell representing 0.8 per cent Cu was created for a mine area using drill hole assay data. This defined the geometry of the ore zone. The Cu-grade shell was then overlain onto the existing resource block model to evaluate the relationships between the Cu-grade shell, copper and other elements. The strongest correlation was between copper and manganese. The block model showed a dramatic decrease in the concentration of manganese just below the below the Cu-grade shell.

Several drill holes that intersected the Cu-grade shell were selected to evaluate the copper manganese relation at the drill hole scale. As expected, the individual drill holes displayed a strong inverse relation between copper and manganese. A geochemical footwall was then modelled representing 0.1 wt per cent Mn. Using both the Cu– and Mn-grade shells, several drill holes were designed/drilled and all hit high-grade copper.

For the vast majority of the deposit the inverse relation between copper and manganese is valid; however, in areas with intense chlorite alteration (related to amounts of mafic to ultramafic rocks) this relation is not as strong, due to increased manganese in the rock mass. Even though using the copper manganese relation as a drill targeting method was not always as reliable in a few small areas of the deposit, it demonstrates the value of using existing assay data integrated with the resource block model to discover local mine scale geochemical relationships which can be used to more effectively design drill holes to discover high-grade ore at Olympic Dam.


Griffith, J and Ehrig, K, 2017. Using existing data to improve the delineation of ore at the Olympic Dam Fe-oxide Cu-U-Au-Ag deposit, in Proceedings Tenth International Mining Geology Conference 2017, pp 321–326 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).