Boddington Gold Mine
|Boddington Gold Mine|
Location: Boddington ,Western Australia.
Ore Type: Lode Deposits.
Products: Gold. Secondary Copper.
Owner: Newmont Mining.
Reserves: By the end of 2011, proven ore reserves at Boddington were 20.3 million ounce (moz) of gold and 2.26 billion pounds (blbs) of copper.
Overview: Boddington Gold Mine (BGM) is located about 130km south-east of Perth in Western Australia. The largest gold mine in the country, it is poised to become the highest producing mine once production ramps up over the next few years. The $2.4bn project was initially a three-way joint venture between Newmont Mining, AngloGold Ashanti and Newcrest Mining. In 2006 Newmont bought Newcrest's 22.22% share, bringing its interest to 66.67% and ending any Australian ownership. AngloGold owned the remaining 33.33%. In June 2009, Newmont became the sole owner of the mine by acquiring the 33.3% interest of AngloGold. The original, mainly oxide open-pit mine was closed at the end of 2001.
The project has an attributable capital budget of between A$0.8bn and A$0.9bn. On 23 July 2009, the project, including the construction of the treatment plant, was completed. Production began in the third quarter of 2009. The first gold and copper concentrate was produced in August 2009.
Approximately 100,000t of ore was processed by mid-August. Gold production began on 30 September 2009. By 19 November 2009, the mine achieved commercial production. The mine was officially inaugurated in February 2010. The project had an attributable capital budget of between A$0.8bn and A$0.9bn. It employs 900 workers.
Based on the current plan, mine life is estimated to be more than 20 years, with attributable life-of-mine gold production expected to be greater than 5.7Moz.
In May 2012, Newmont decided to seek the expansion of mine life to 2052 by combining the north and south Wandoo open pits. It also plans to expand the waste rock facility to two billion metric tons.
Newmont and Anglo had focused their exploration activities on the poorly explored areas of the greenstone belt outside the already identified Boddington Expansion resource. The exploration strategy was to identify the resource potential of the remainder of the greenstone belt, with the emphasis on high-grade lode-type deposits.
Geological settings & Mineralization:
The Boddington gold mine is hosted in Archean volcanic, volcaniclastic, and shallow-level intrusive rocks that form the northern part of the Saddleback greenstone belt, a fault-bounded sliver of greenstones located in the southwestern corner of the Yilgarn craton, Western Australia. Total Au content of the Boddington gold mine (past production plus in situ resource) exceeds 400 metric tons, making the Boddington gold mine one of the largest Au mines currently operating in Australia.Geologic mapping and radiometric dating indicate that five phases of igneous activity occurred during development of the Saddleback greenstone belt. Basaltic, intermediate, and minor felsic volcanism occurred between approximately 2714 and 2696 Ma and again at approximately 2675 Ma. An older suite of ultramafic dikes was emplaced between approximately 2696 and 2675 Ma and a younger suite was emplaced between approximately 2675 and 2611 Ma. Granitoid plutons crystallized at approximately 2611 Ma and cut all the other Archean rocks in the Saddleback greenstone belt.Regional upper greenschist facies metamorphism accompanied the earliest phase of ductile deformation (D 1 ). Sericite-quartz + or - arsenopyrite-altered shear zones developed during subsequent ductile deformation (D 2 ). Crosscutting relationships indicate that D 1 and D 2 predate approximately 2675 Ma. Further ductile shear zones characterized by quartz-albite-sericite + or - pyrite alteration developed during D 3 , after approximately 2675 Ma. Narrow brittle faults (D 4 ) with biotite + or - clinozoisite alteration halos, active between approximately 2675 and 2611 Ma, cut the three generations of ductile shear zones.Rare quartz-albite-fluorite-molybdenite + or - chalcopyrite + or - pyrrhotite veins developed prior to D 1 and the regional metamorphism. These veins are not associated with any Au mineralization or significant Cu. Quartz + or - pyrite + or - molybdenite + or - Au veins and crosscutting clinozoisite-biotite + or - actinolite + or - quartz-chalcopyrite-pyrrhotite + or - galena + or - molybdenite + or - scheelite Au veins developed during movement on the D 4 faults between approximately 2675 and 2611 Ma. Mineralized veins crosscut the three generations of ductile shear zones but are not foliated. Movement on the D 4 faults controlled the location of mineralization within the Boddington gold mine. Higher grade mineralization occurs along the D 4 faults and coplanar pyroxenite dikes and where the faults intersect older shear zones, and quartz veins. Widespread lower grade stockwork mineralization is concentrated in the general vicinity of the D 4 faults. The orientation of veins within stockworks is consistent with vein development during sinistral strike-slip movement on the D 4 faults. Au-Cu + or - Mo + or - W mineralization at the Boddington gold mine, therefore, occurred late in the tectonic evolution of the Saddleback greenstone belt.The timing of mineralization at the Boddington gold mine is analogous to many other structurally late Au deposits in the Yilgarn craton, e.g., Mount Magnet, Mount Charlotte, and Wiluna. Movement on the D 4 faults and mineralization may have been coeval with the emplacement of granitoid intrusions at approximately 2611 Ma. Whereas these granitoids are unaltered and therefore unlikely to have been the source of significant volumes of hydrothermal fluids, they may have provided the thermal energy necessary to drive circulation of auriferous hydrothermal fluids through D 4 faults that may also have accommodated their intrusion.Previous workers at the Boddington gold mine have inferred that mineralization is genetically linked to subvolcanic intrusions emplaced between approximately 2714 and 2696 Ma. However, this inference is inconsistent with the crosscutting relationships of structures and mineralized veins which indicate that mineralization occurred between approximately 30 and 80 Ma after emplacement of these rocks.
|General Geological Map of Boddington Gold Mine|
Note From Dr. Walter L. Pohl
"Lateritic gold deposits as a class are a relatively recent discovery. One of the largest representatives of this group was the Boddington bauxite mine in Western Australia, which until closure in 2001 was the biggest gold mine in Australia with an annual gold production of 2500 kg. Premining resources amounted to 60 Mt of ore at 1.6 ppm Au, apart from bauxite with gold contents <1 ppm. Exploitable gold was located in near-surface, iron-alumina hard crusts that reached a thickness of 5 m and in additional 8 m thick lumpy Fe-Al laterite of the B-horizon. Sources of the gold in soil at Boddington are quartz veins and hydrothermally altered bodies of Archaean greenstone bedrock. Since 2009, resources of 400 Mt of this primary ore with a grade of 0.9 g/t Au and 0.12% Cu are exploited in a new mine. Worldwide, numerous lateritic gold deposits are worked. They are attractive because exploration, extraction and processing of soil is less costly compared with hard rock mining."