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Porphyry copper assessment of Europe, exclusive of the Fennoscandian Shield: Chapter K in Global mineral resource assessment

July 3, 2013

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) collaborated with European geologists to assess resources in porphyry copper deposits in Europe, exclusive of Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland) and Russia. Porphyry copper deposits in Europe are Paleozoic and Late Cretaceous to Miocene in age. A number of the 31 known Phanerozoic deposits contain more than 1 million metric tons of contained copper, including the Majdanpek deposit, Serbia; Assarel, Bulgaria; Skouries, Greece; and Rosia Poeni, Romania. Five geographic areas were delineated as permissive tracts for post-Paleozoic porphyry copper deposits. Two additional tracts were delineated to show the extent of permissive igneous rocks associated with porphyry copper mineralization related to the Paleozoic Caledonian and Variscan orogenies. The tracts are based on mapped and inferred subsurface distributions of igneous rocks of specific age ranges that define areas where the occurrence of porphyry copper deposits within 1 kilometer of the Earth’s surface is possible. These tracts range in area from about 4,000 to 93,000 square kilometers. Although maps at a variety of different scales were used in the assessment, the final tract boundaries are intended for use at a scale of 1:1,000,000.

The post-Paleozoic deposits in Europe all formed in conjunction with the tectonic evolution of southern Europe as the former Tethyan Ocean closed by convergence of the African and Arabian Plates with Europe, accompanied by accretion of microcontinents to the southern Eurasian Plate and development and demise of magmatic arcs and ocean basins. Many of the deposits formed in extensional or post-collisional settings; these tectonic environments are increasingly being recognized as environments where porphyry copper deposits occur.

Probabilistic estimates of undiscovered porphyry copper deposits were made for four Phanerozoic permissive tracts; the other tracts are discussed qualitatively. Assessment participants estimated numbers of undiscovered deposits at different levels of confidence for the four tracts. These estimates were then combined with grade and tonnage models using Monte Carlo simulation to generate probabilistic estimates of amounts of in-place undiscovered resources. Additional resources that may be present in extensions of known deposits were not evaluated. Assessment results are reported in tables and graphs as expected amounts of metal and rock in undiscovered deposits at different quantile levels, as well as the arithmetic mean for each commodity for each tract.

This assessment estimated a mean of 14 undiscovered porphyry copper deposits within the four permissive tracts for which estimates were made. On the basis of global grade and tonnage models, mean (arithmetic) estimated resources that could be associated with undiscovered deposits are about 46 million metric tons of copper and about 2,600 metric tons of gold, as well as byproduct molybdenum and silver. Reliable reported identified resources for the 27 deposits in the assessed areas total about 44 million metric tons of copper and about 2,300 metric tons of gold. Exploration for gold-rich porphyry systems is ongoing in some parts of historical copper mining districts in central Europe and in northwesternmost (European) Turkey. Political and social conflicts, environmental concerns associated with historical mining, and the global economic situation have had negative effects on exploration, development, and mining in Europe for many years.

The assessment includes an overview with summary tables. Detailed descriptions of each tract, including the rationales for delineation and assessment, are given in appendixes A–G. Appendix H describes a geographic information system (GIS) that includes tract boundaries and point locations of known porphyry copper deposits and significant prospects.

Publication Year 2013
Title Porphyry copper assessment of Europe, exclusive of the Fennoscandian Shield: Chapter K in Global mineral resource assessment
DOI 10.3133/sir20105090K
Authors David M. Sutphin, Jane M. Hammarstrom, Lawrence J. Drew, Duncan E. Large, Byron R. Berger, Connie Dicken, Michael W. DeMarr, Mario with contributions from Billa, Joseph A. Briskey, Daniel Cassard, Andor Lips, Zdeněk Pertold, Emilian Roşu
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Scientific Investigations Report
Series Number 2010-5090
Index ID sir20105090K
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center; Mineral Resources Program