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Ok Tedi
Papua New Guinea
Main commodities: Cu Au


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The Ok Tedi porphyry and skarn copper-gold deposits on Mount Fubilan (2053 mASL) are located in the Star Mountains of far western Papua New Guinea, 18 km east of the Indonesian border. The pre-mining deposits contained approximately 4.8 Mt of copper and 490 tonnes of gold (actual metal production + full metal content of reserve). The mine is operated by Ok Tedi Mining Limited (52% PNG Sustainable Development Program, 18% Inmet Mining Ltd, 30% PNG Government) (#Location: 5° 12' 35"S, 141° 8' 19"E).

Copper and gold had been reported from the district from as early as 1875. Reconnaissance exploration by Kennecott in 1968 recognised float of oxidized massive-sulphide creek float and traced this back to the skarn zone of Sulphide Creek at Ok Tedi. Initial drilling of the skarn was followed by recognition of the porphyry mineralisation. Kennecott was unable to agree to terms of mining with th PNG government and withdrew from the project in 1975. By late 1976 a consortium, headed by BHP had signed an agreement with the PNG Government, and mine construction commenced in 1981, followed by first production in May 1984. BHP Billiton withdrew from the project in 2002 and assigned their holding to the PNG Sustainable Development Program.

Ok Tedi is located within the Papuan Fold Belt that forms the spine of the island of New Guinea and marks the southern margin of the transition zone from the stable Australian plate to the Pacific plate in the north. This transition zone underwent rapid uplift from 2.6 to 0.7 Ma. The geology of the Star Mountains is characterised by generally shallow dipping Mesozoic and Cainozoic continental margin marine sediments, which have been forcefully intruded by middle Miocene to Pleistocene stocks, with coeval volcanism, and rest on a Palaeozoic metamorphics-granite basement exposed to the south. Deformation is principally expressed as large scale thrusting which was contemporaneous with intrusion of the calc-alkaline stocks and associated volcanism.

In the mine area, the sequence commences with 1300 to 1500 m of middle to late Cretaceous Ieru Formation marine mudstone to clayey siltstones and glauconitic sandstone, disconformably (or structurally) overlain by the Late Oligocene to Early Miocene Darai Limestone which comprises 300 to 600 m of massive dark grey limestone and conformably overlying thin bedded grey calcareous mudstone and siltstone with lenses of limestone, sandstone and marl. The Darai Limestone is in turn overlain by calcareous mudstone and siltstone with lesser, but prominent limestone horizons that comprises the Pnyang Formation. The earliest volcanic activity in the district is represented by tuffaceous sandstone in the Mid-Miocene Birim Formation. The latter is overlain by volcanoclastic sediments of the Awin Formation which is the eroded remnant of a Late Miocene to Pliocene stratovolcano.

Several calc-alkaline lithologies form stocks at Ok Tedi, the main phases on Mount Fubilan being:
i). The 2.6 Ma Sydney monzodiorite occurring as a 1.5 x 2.5 km stock with porphyritic to subporphyritic to equigranular textures, and is essentially to the south of Mt Fubilan. It contains andesine, clinopyroxene, orthoclase, hornblende and biotite in decreasing order of abundance, with accessory sphene, apatite and magnetite,
ii). The younger Fubilan Monzonite Porphyry, which occurs within and in contact with the Sydney monzodiorite, mainly as a downward tapering stock in the core of Mount Fubilan with a surface diameter of 850 m, and is the main host to mineralisation with alteration dated at 1.1 to 1.2 Ma. In the upper part of the Fubilan Monzonite Porphyry stock there is a downward tapering 350x125 m cone, surrounded by a series of hydrothermal and intrusive breccia dykes. It consists of phenocrysts of oligoclase, orthoclase, quartz, and hydrothermal biotite replacing hornblende and biotite, with accessory apatite, sphene, rutile after sphene, and magnetite in a felsic glassy matrix.
iii). Late phase, usually basic dykes which are up to 3 m thick and cut all rock types, constituting ~0.1% of the intrusive complex.
iv). Hydrothermal and intrusive breccia dykes

Two phases of potassic alteration (characterised by micas) are observed, centred on the quartz-stockwork core of the Mt Fubilan Monzonite Porphyry stock. The central quartz stockwork comprises silica flooding with quartz stockwork veining ±sericite-clay that forms a carrot like mass. The first phase of potassic alteration is characterised by dark brown to greenish brown primary igneous mica, K-feldspar, rutile and commonly accompanies chalcopyrite and martitised magnetite. The second phase is more intense and extensive with phlogopite, red brown micas, K-feldspar and rutile and is commonly associated with chalcopyrite, bornite, molybdenite and gold. The potassic zone is flanked by argillic alteration and very limited propylitic alteration in the adjacent Sydney monzodiorite. The argillic alteration is often only weakly developed and comprises an assemblage of kaolinite and montmorillonite impregnated with martitised magnetite, iron oxides, minor secondary sphene and rare sulphide minerals.

Although the orebody is defined by grade boundaries, the great bulk of the ore is within the intrusives and is divided into the:
i). Leached cap - a remnant cap varying from 40 to 290 m in thickness with an average of 0.05% Cu,
ii). Oxide copper - an irregularly shaped zone, averaging around 0.5% Cu, with deep roots to depths of >150 m in fault zones, and comprising cupriferous goethite, copper oxide, copper sulphide with lesser copper phosphates or carbonates, cupriferous clays and native copper,
iii). Enriched copper - mainly chalcocite and digenite on fracture and in veinlets replacing chalcopyrite and pyrite to grades of 1 to 4% Cu over variable thicknesses of from 50 to 300, and locally 400 m,
iv). Hypogene ore - composed of chalcopyrite, pyrite, molybdenite and minor bornite, with grades of 0.35 to 0.45% Cu, 0.011% Mo, 0.2 g/t Au, but decreasing to 0.1 to 0.2% Cu, where greater than 400 m thick, although Mo increases to 0.02% at depth and towards the periphery,
v). Gold cap - in an annulus around the quartz stockwork core within the leached cap, decreasing with depth from a grade of 5 g/t Au near the surface as electrum in secondary iron oxides, to 0.5 g/t in the enriched copper zone where subhedral inclusions of gold are within chalcocite and digenite grains, and
vi). Skarns - a series of endo- and exo-skarns are recognised including calc-silicates (diopside, pyroxene, garnet), massive magnetite, massive sulphide (pyrite, pyrrhotite and some chalcopyrite) with sulphides post-dating magnetite. In general the paragenesis of the skarns comprised prograde garnet-pyroxene assemblages with retrograde epidote-actinolite-tremolite were replaced by magnetite and overprinted by sulphides. In the Edinburgh and Sulphide skarns, there is a lateral change outward from the intrusive from massive magnetite to massive sulphide. Sulphide mineralisation postdates the calc-silicate alteration and magnetite

Mining commenced in 1984, with an original resource of:
    700 Mt @ 0.63% Cu. 0.011% Mo, 0.63 g/t Au.
The reserve at start-up in 1984, totaled 415 Mt of ore, comprising:
    Leached cap - 18 Mt @ 0.05% Cu, 2 g/t Au,
    Sulphide - 348.9 Mt @ 0.7% Cu, 0.56 g/t Au, 0.11% Mo,
    Skarn - 28.8 Mt @ 1.25% Cu, 1.58 g/t Au,
    Oxide copper - 19 Mt @ 1.74% Cu, 1.34 g/t Au.
At December 31, 2003, the remaining measured + indicated + inferred resource totalled:
    663 Mt @ 0.76% Cu, 0.85 g/ Au, and
the proven + probable reserve was:
    246 Mt @ 0.87% Cu, 0.93 g/t Au.
At December 31, 2008, the remaining measured + indicated + inferred resource totalled (OTML Annual Report, 2009):
    391 Mt @ 0.58% Cu, 0.77 g/ Au, and
the proven + probable reserve was:
    123 Mt @ 0.83% Cu, 1.19 g/t Au.

The most recent source geological information used to prepare this decription was dated: 1997.    
This description is a summary from published sources, the chief of which are listed below.
© Copyright Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd.   Unauthorised copying, reproduction, storage or dissemination prohibited.


Ok Tedi

  References & Additional Information
   Selected References:
Arnold G O, Griffin T J  1978 - Intrusions and porphyry copper prospects of the Star Mountains, Papua New Guinea: in    Econ. Geol.   v73 pp 785-795
Davies H L, Howell W J S, Fardon R S H, Carter R J, Bumstead E D  1978 - History of the Ok Tedi porphyry copper prospect, Papua New Guinea: in    Econ. Geol.   v73 pp 796-809
Hettler J, Irion G, Lehmann B,  1997 - Environmental impact of mining waste disposal on a tropical lowland river system: a case study on the Ok Tedi Mine, Papua New Guinea: in    Mineralium Deposita   v32 pp280-291
Large, S.J.E., von Quadt, A., Wotzlaw, J.-F., Guillong, M. and Heinrich, C.A.,   2018 - Magma Evolution Leading to Porphyry Au-Cu Mineralization at the Ok Tedi Deposit, Papua New Guinea: Trace Element Geochemistry and High-Precision Geochronology of Igneous Zircon: in    Econ. Geol.   v.113, pp. 39-61.
Orogen Minerals Ltd  1996 - Existing Projects - Ok Tedi: in   Extracts from  Orogen Minerals Ltd Prospectus, 1996    pp 87-89
Pollard, P.J., Jongens, R., Stein, H., Fanning, C.M. and Smillie, R.,  2021 - Rapid Formation of Porphyry and Skarn Copper-Gold Mineralization in a Post-subduction Environment: Re-Os and U-Pb Geochronology of the Ok Tedi Mine, Papua New Guinea: in    Econ. Geol.   v.116, pp. 533-558. doi:10.5382/econgeo.4799.
Rush P M, Seegers H J  1990 - Ok Tedi copper-gold deposits: in Hughes FE (Ed.), 1990 Geology of the Mineral Deposits of Australia & Papua New Guinea The AusIMM, Melbourne   Mono 14, v2 pp 1747-1754
van Dongen M, Weinberg R F and Tomkins A G  2013 - Grade Distribution of the Giant Ok Tedi Cu-Au Deposit, Papua New Guinea: in    Econ. Geol.   v.108 pp. 1773-1781
van Dongen M, Weinberg R F, Tomkins A G and Armstrong R A,  2008 - Timescale of forming a giant porphyry copper-gold deposit Ok Tedi, Papua New Guinea: in   The Pacific Rim: Mineral Endowment, Discoveries & Exploration Frontier, Proceedings of Pacrim 2008 Conference, Gold Coast, Qld, AusIMM, Melbourne,    pp 397-400


Porter GeoConsultancy Pty Ltd (PorterGeo) provides access to this database at no charge.   It is largely based on scientific papers and reports in the public domain, and was current when the sources consulted were published.   While PorterGeo endeavour to ensure the information was accurate at the time of compilation and subsequent updating, PorterGeo, its employees and servants:   i). do not warrant, or make any representation regarding the use, or results of the use of the information contained herein as to its correctness, accuracy, currency, or otherwise; and   ii). expressly disclaim all liability or responsibility to any person using the information or conclusions contained herein.

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