|Coat of Arms of Chile|
Friday, March 23, 2012
Gold Occurrences in Chile
Whenever anyone thinks of Chile they immediately think of copper since it is the largest producer of copper in the world, but many of the copper deposits have gold and silver as trace metals. A recent statement by the Chilean Copper Commission (Cochilco) says their country’s production of gold could triple by 2015 making the country one of the top producers in the world. Currently
gold production is pegged at 39.2 tonnes, however new developments and
expansions of existing mines could cause output to swell to 103 tonnes by
2015. This figure may be an
underestimation as there are other gold mining projects waiting in the
background. Most of the gold produced in
from the production of copper as a byproduct. Chile
There are several mining companies involved with this surge in gold production with the most notable being Barrick with its Pascua Lama project. This does not include several other gold mining projects that are waiting in the wings. Recent discoveries of gold/copper mineralization have been found in the high
have become viable because of the high rise in gold and copper prices. The biggest hurdle facing miners is the lack
of or shortage of capital for developing these gold finds that sometimes can
cost billions of dollars to get them into production.
Most of these projects in the high
are found above the 4,000 meter line making them difficult to mine as operations
are hard on both personnel and equipment.
Some of these projects are centered on banded quartz projects carrying
in places high anomalies of gold. Other
projects are to be found in gold bearing porphyry that has a lower gold
content, but because of the vast volumes of rock present high tonnage, low
grade projects. At present the main
target of the explorers is at La Falda that is a near-surface porphyry having
associated epithermal gold-silver.
A second cycle of gold production started at about 1740 that were mainly based on vein mining. The gold was recovered using trapiches and mercury to recover the gold. This production peaked with the production of 3 tonnes in 1810. There were several areas that were producing gold with the most prominent being located at Andacollo and other areas. Gold production in all areas declined during the War of Independence that was finally reached in 1823.