Speaker: Dr. John Muntean (Director, Ralph J. Roberts Center for Research in Economic Geology; Research Economic Geologist, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology)
Title: Exploration for Gold in a Mature Terrain: Maintaining Nevada’s Gold Rush
What: Geological Society of Nevada monthly meeting
When: Friday January 18, 2013 (drinks at 6:00 PM, dinner at 7:00 PM, and talk at 8:00 PM)
Where: Reno Elks Lodge, 597 Kumle Lane, Reno, NV
Contact: Dinner reservations must be made by NOON, Wednesday January 16. Contact Laura Ruud, Geological Society of Nevada, at (775) 323-3500 or email email@example.com for reservations.
Gold production in Nevada increased in 2011 for the second year in a row, to a total of 5.54 million ounces. However, production has decreased 10 of the last 13 years from its peak in 1998, when a record 8.82 million ounces were produced. Exploration spending in Nevada remained high in 2011 with over $600 million in expenditures, the majority of which was by junior companies exploring for gold. Nevertheless, since the price of gold bottomed out at $279/ounce in 2000, only five new >2 million ounce deposits have been found (Cortez Hills, Long Canyon, South Arturo, Long Canyon, and Gold Rush), a much lower rate of discovery than the previous two decades. Current exploration continues to focus on known areas, many of which contain known resources that have benefitted from the current high price of gold. Is Nevada at the beginning of a long decline that mature terrains inevitably experience? The main geologic challenge in maintaining Nevada’s gold production is exploration under cover. Half of Nevada is covered by alluvium, and significant additional areas are covered by pre-ore and post-ore thrust plates and volcanic rocks. The talk will focus on gaps in our knowledge of Nevada’s gold deposits that bear on two basic questions facing explorationists: 1) Where to look? and 2) How to detect? Emphasis will be on Carlin-type gold deposits that account for about 80% of Nevada’s production. Meeting the challenges of finding new deposits in the future will require a new generation of highly skilled, creative explorationists. Opportunities exist for companies, universities, and government to cooperate in the training of future explorationists and in undertaking studies from the atomic to regional scale to fill the knowledge gaps. The traditional practice of individual researchers working with individual companies needs to evolve. The challenges should be prioritized into individual cooperative projects between multiple companies and research institutions that share results. Models for such cooperative research exist (e.g., CODES, MDRU, AMIRA, CAMIRO).