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Sixth International Mining Geology Conference

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Sixth International Mining Geology Conference

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Challenges in Modelling Large Complex Orebodies at the George Fisher North Mine

How do you portray a large structurally and stratigraphically complex deposit to return a meaningful resource estimation, and produce a geological model that is useable for planning on a daily basis? The George Fisher Mine is located 22 km north of Mount Isa and forms part of Xstrata's Zinc Group operations. It is currently a major producer of zinc, lead and silver in the region with an estimated total resource for all categories of 127 Mt at 100g/t Ag, 5.3 per cent Pb and 9.2 per cent Zn (June 2005). Production in 2005 totalled 2 647 492 wet tonnes for 317 699 kg Ag, 140 317 tonnes Pb and 230 331 tonnes Zn from underground operations._x000D_
George Fisher (GF) consists of two deposits that are structurally complex on a mine scale, George Fisher North (GFN) and George Fisher South (GFS). Regional faulting has resulted in a 2 km long package of variably pyritic shale and siltstone that separates the deposits. This paper looks specifically at GFN. Distinct correlations exist between the two deposits based on stratigraphic matches; however, orebody characteristics, geometry and fault architectures differ significantly between the two. The deposits consist of multiple, sedimentary-hosted, stratiform orebodies from 2 to 25 m wide, separated by waste intervals of variable width. Each ore-waste interval is modelled as an individual geological domain._x000D_
Structurally, George Fisher North (GFN) contains a series of major late-stage NE faults with dextral offset(s) of up to 130 m. Further complexity is added by NS, NW and NNE striking fault orientations that can produce either a loss or repeat of stratigraphy, local drag folding, orebody attenuation and block rotation. Due to this structural complexity and orebody offsets, domains at GFN are further divided into fault blocks (FB). The GFN model comprises eight FBs over a strike length of 1 km, all of which are modelled independently. As drilling progresses and additional resources are converted, further FBs will be added at major fault offsets to accommodate orebody and model expansion. This will be in addition to what is already a large and time-consuming data set to manage and update. For example, each FB has 18 domains each with two constraining wireframes (hanging wall and footwall). Each wireframe has several sets of point data depending on the type of data available, ie diamond drilling, mapping or interpretation points. This equates to over 1100 separate files to manage. Additional wireframes and files are also required for major structures, daily planning requirements and block model runs. In total some 1500 files are managed, updated and maintained for GFN alone._x000D_
The ongoing need to expand as a business and optimise production in the current economic climate where there is a global demand for metal has led to an increase in production at GF. This has resulted in a rapidly growing data set and highlights the importance of practical and efficient modelling to achieve a meaningful resource estimate. This paper focuses on the geological modelling, modelling approaches and techniques employed for the GFN deposit._x000D_
FORMAL CITATION:Grenfell, K and Haydon, M, 2006. Challenges in modelling large complex orebodies at the George Fisher North Mine, in Proceedings Sixth International Mining Geology Conference, pp 143-152 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).
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  • Published: 2005
  • PDF Size: 1.047 Mb.
  • Unique ID: P200606017

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