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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Gold Occurrences in Madagascar

Although in the past Madagascar was a significant gold producer but because of its tumultuous political history for many years it remained in the doldrums. Today Madagascar is considered to be an up-and-coming place for mining now the political situation has become more stable. Today Madagascar has become a beacon for the mining and exploration industry that right now is largely undeveloped.

Madagascar is shown in red.

For those who don't know where Madagascar is, is approximately 400 km due east of the African mainland. It is separated from Africa by the Mozambique Channel.

Although the island has a vast potential for hosting valuable mineral deposits right now the country does not have a well-developed mining industry. As little as 30 years ago it was one of most geologically studied areas in the African region, but then the country underwent a period of political instability resulting in mineral exploration being put on the back burner. It wasn't until 1993 that the political instability vanished when the country returned to a liberal democratic form of government. It wasn't until recently however, that it began to regain some of the lost footing it once had in exploration and mining.

Although Madagascar is considered to be a part of the African Continent the island geologically is a micro-continent between Southern Africa and India. This becomes readily apparent when you start looking at the local geology and the flora and fauna. The geology of the island is more akin to that of Sri Lanka and India that is anything found in Africa.

Madagascar's primary gold deposits are similar to those of the Abitibi region of Canada than anything else. Like the Abitibi the gold is associated with greenstone belts, quartz reefs and veins, and is also found the fuse for the country rock in deposits similar to those of the Carlin Trend in Nevada.  There is a great deal of gold that is also associated with that volcanogenic massive sulfide (VMS) deposits similar to those that are found at the kidd Creek Mine in Timmins, Ontario or the Horne Mine in Rouyn-Noranda, Qu├ębec. Both of these mines are in the Abitibi Gold Belt of Canada.

Gold isn't the only thing found in Madagascar that is worth money.
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Alluvial gold is also been recovered from both ancient and recent placer deposits as well as lateritic earth. Aside from the gold deposits found in Madagascar is also the home of many valuable gemstones including those of the ruby and sapphire family that are mined mainly by artisanal miners although in some cases a few of these mines have been mechanized.

Although the primary gold deposits found on the island predate the breakup of Gondwana one of the two continents that made up the supercontinent Pangaea. This is very important to remember because it makes the regional tectonics arrival into the emplacement of gold deposits. Madagascar's gold bearing rocks are all part of its suite of basement rocks. These rocks are divided into three different systems with the youngest being the Vohibory System, the middle is the Graphite System and the oldest is the Androyen System. Most of the gold however is found in the graphite system. There are also some interesting gold deposits in the Vohibory System.

2 comments:

  1. Madgascar is very interesting geological area having gold mineralisation with primary as well as alluvial gold. The alluvial gold thickness is alo high and is amenable for open cast mining and liberation of gold by gravity. I am interested to know much about Madagascar gold with the literatures available about its mineralisation, origin and intersting gold areas.

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