October 2019

Book review: Society of Economic Geologists: Guidebook Series Volume 60

  • By Tony Wiggins and Andres Chifflet

Precious Metal Epithermal and Porphyry Deposits of the Maricunga Belt, and Copper-Silver IOCG Deposits of Northern Chile

Edited by Borden Putnam, Rael Lipson, K Brock Riedell and Ryan Taylor

The publication of short-form SEGF student field trip notes (undertaken in January 2019, led by William X Chavez and Erich Petersen) covering specific geological domains with mines and prospects is a welcome and innovative product for industry professionals and researchers. The format is guided by a primary purpose, being an easy-to-use point of reference for site and core-shed visits, with plans, sections, commentary on mines and other relevant information, including a comprehensive reference list.

For industry practioners, the publication includes an up-to-date summary of published papers on mines and prospects, augmented by technical materials released by the operators covering mine-specific details. This information from private operators is typically not available outside the industry professionals of the area or the companies, and is an important resource. 

As the Maricunga Belt is a historic field with a lot of technical and research work undertaken in the 1980s, the summary is particularly useful, reducing time that would be otherwise required to find relevant information across different publications. This guidebook covers the epithermal and porphyry deposits of the Maricunga Belt, and selected silver-copper mines in the north of Chile. The Maricunga Belt, and affiliated domains, have attracted recent attention, most notably from positive exploration results and development work undertaken by major gold mining companies. Goldfields Salares Norte prospect, located to the north of the belt, is included in the field notes, which are current and only eclipsed by information released by the company recently as part of a feasibility study.

Kinross (historic operator of the La Coipa and Maricunga mines) has recently announced it will restart work at La Coipa and Marte-Lobo (both featured), and the Norte Abierto project (composed of the Caspiche and Casale deposits, each featuring prominently in the recent merger of Newmont and Goldcorp). Although these properties are shown on the itinerary as Copiapo-based core shed visits, the technical information is handed by the authors in a satisfying and well-compiled manner.

A summary of the Candelaria-Punta del Cobre District, located in the Copiapo Valley, south of the city of that name, was of particular interest. As with other visitors to this area, I was intrigued with the geology of the extensive copper workings here and their relationship to the large-scale Candelaria operation. The publication draws on local and published information to draw a clearer picture on the exploration potential of this historic Cu-rich district.

A range of smaller deposits are described, including Manto-type Cu-Ag mines near Taltal, epithermal precious metal deposits located on the southern end of the Yamana Belt, with each summary drawing on previously unpublished mine planning and operating data. 

In summary, this publication is recommended for those geologists seeking a handy reference to important regions of mineralisation in Chile. The publication can be purchased in PDF from the Society of Economic Geologists (SEG) at www.segweb.org.

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