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Friday, January 20, 2012

Gold Occurrences in South America

Precambrian Cratons of South America

From the Isthmus of Panama to Drake’s Passage South America is a veritable treasure house of minerals including gold.  Found on this continent are some of the great mineral deposits found on earth.  Of all the deposits of minerals the first discovered by modern man was gold when the Incas filled a room with gold ornaments to ransom their Emperor from the Spanish conquistador Pizzaro and his men. Even with this vast treasure their efforts were ignored when their Emperor, Athapulco was executed by the Spaniards.

There are several different gold provinces in South America with the largest being the Andes Mountains reaching from the Panama border to Cape Horn on the island of Tierra del Fuego. The  Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains are found on the northeast coast of Colombia, the highest point on the Atlantic Ocean at 5,800 meters (19,278 feet) reportedly contain vast amounts of gold that is guarded by the only Native Tribe that wasn’t conquered by the Spaniards; these Indians to not take kindly to gold seekers even today.  It is thought the Sierra Nevada’s are a high volcanic island that was plastered to South America by earth movements in the past.

In eastern South America there are several Precambrian cratons that also are known gold bearers.  These cratons are the Guyana Shield and the South American Platform that in many places are covered by younger sediments.  Many of the sedimentary basins contain gold that was washed down from the mountains or the Precambrian shields as placer gold.

Like other areas that produce gold in the world the deposits are associated with volcanism or regional heat sources whether ancient or recent.  A great deal of the gold found in South America is concentrated along the chain of the Andes Mountains.  More gold is found in the Precambrian cratons of eastern South America.  A separate source of gold is found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains in northeastern Colombia.

One of the hot spots in the Andes is the northern end of the chain in Colombia where there are several mining companies staking claims or already have active gold mines. It is in the northern Andes where the author has dibs on a gold mine that is just opening. 

Gold is found throughout South America that has already been the home of several historical gold rushes.  From appearances there is a great deal more gold that hasn't been found in South America.


  1. This is excellent John, when are we heading for South America? Very informative!

  2. Want to catch the next plane, Nick has a place where we can sleep between the Pig Pen and the Old Man.