S (Solid Earth Sciences ) » S-RD Resources, Mineral Deposit & Resource Exploration
[S-RD35] Mineral Resources for Society: Ore deposit formation and exploration
Mineral resources are fundamental to Society, particularly for a modern way of life, as they are used in every facet of life, from housing and transport to low-C energy sources to mobile phones. Metals and non-metals are mined from surface or underground ore deposits. The largest production - aside from industrial minerals - is iron ore from iron formations, 2,400 million tonnes (Mt) yearly (USGS), and P2O5 (263 Mt). This is followed by Al (60 Mt), Cr (30 Mt), Cu (20 Mt), Zn + Pb (19 Mt) and Ni (2 Mt); Mo and Sn (each 290 kilotonnes, kt), REEs (130 kt), Co (111 kt), Li (43 kt) and Ag (25 kt). Smaller amounts of essential metals include In (720 t), Ga (300 t) and Ge (126 t). Reserves (i.e., amounts proven by drilling to be economically feasible to mine) for many elements are 2-3+ decades, with known Resources typically up to 100 years or more (e.g., Fe, P), at present consumption rates.
Future global mineral resources depend on the consumption rate minus the recycling rate for given elements; shortfalls need to be made up over time by discovery of new resources. Discovery occurs by exploration; although technology assists this task, geologists must still work in the field and map, assess alteration and geochemical anomalies, and test these plus geophysical anomalies by drilling. Few anomalies ever reach a feasibility study, and many deposits with a feasibility study eventually are not mined for economic, social, environmental, political or other reasons. In order to be geologically successful at exploration, geologists must understand the characteristics of the ore deposit style sought, and appreciate the variations that occur within the deposit style they are seeking. This requires understanding how ore deposits form, and how characteristics may vary depending on different geologic settings. This session invites presentations on ore deposits and features that assist their discovery.
*W.L.A.C.I. Weedagama 1,2, N.W.B. Balasooriya2, Atula Senaratne2, Bhathiya Athurupana2, Rohana Chandrajith2, Nadeesha H. Koralegedara2 (1.Post Graduate Institute of Science, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri lanka, 2.Department of Geology, University of Perdeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka)