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A Tour to Order - Organised by Porter GeoConsultancy
OzMines '99
Major Australian Base Metal Mines
5 to 11 December 1999
Broken Hill Line of Lode
A special 'Tour to Order' organised by Porter GeoConsultancy to the specifications of the Inner Mongolia Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources and the Beijing office of Billiton Development B.V.

The tour employed a charter aircraft to fly direct from mine to mine or overnight accomodation locations, and visited six mines in four states of Australia, plus a half day field workshop at Broken Hill conducted by the NSW Department of Mineral Resources.

The emphasis was on both regional and ore deposit scale geology, exploration, evaluation & metallurgy of the deposits visited, which concentrated on sediment and metamorphic hosted Zn-Pb-Ag deposits and Iron-oxide Cu-Au ores.

    Group Photo  -  See who took the tour,

    Review Article   in   Minerals Gazette.

  The tour commenced in Adelaide, South Australia. After an introductory dinner on Sunday 5 December, the group flew to Broken Hill in western New South Wales (pictured above-left) early next morning. After a one hour flight, they arrived in time for an underground visit to the Broken Hill metamorphic hosted Zn-Pb-Ag ore deposit in the morning, followed by a detailed presentation on the deposit and its setting and a field traverse in the afternoon, including the host succession, the lode horizon, and the gossan where the sulphide ore had come to surface. In the evening a member of the tour party gave a presentation to the geological staff of our hosts, Pasminco Limited, on the Proterozoic sediment hosted Zn-Pb-Ag deposits of Inner Mongolia.

  After an early departure next morning, the group flew to Roxby Downs, and following a detailed technical presentation, were given an underground visit to the WMC Resources Olympic Dam IOCG deposit, followed by inspection of drill core through the deposit at the extensive core yard. In the late afternoon, they flew on, via a refuelling stop at Alice Springs to Mount Isa in Queensland, a distance of near 1500 km, to overnight.

  Next morning, they flew on from Mount Isa, dropped down en route to circle and view the Pasminco Century sediment hosted zinc mine complex from a lower altitude, before climbing again and continuing on to Borroloola in the Northern Territory. They visited the nearby Mount Is Mines owned sediment hosted McArthur River Zn-Pb-Ag deposit, involving a detailed geological presentation, an underground traverse through the deposit, and a tour of the metallurgical processing plant. In the mid afternoon, the charter flight took off for the 650 km return flight to Mount Isa to overnight again.

  The following day, Thursday 9 December was spent visiting the Mount Isa operation of Mount Isa Mines Limited. This involved geological presentations on both the sediment hosted Zn-Pb-Ag and Cu deposits and an underground traverse through the former. The afternoon was spent visiting the mills, concentrators, and the processing and IsaSmelt plants.

Cannington Headframe   The following day commenced with an early flight south east to Treppell and a visit to the BHP Cannington (image right) metamorphic hosted Ag-Pb-Zn deposit. The group inspected the different ore types on the stockpiles and then were shown intersections that included up to 30 m of high grade ores of each of the main styles and the enclosing host rocks. They were also given a tour of the surface facilities of the mine. After lunch, there was a short flight south to the Osborne airstrip and a visit to the Placer Pacific Osborne IOCG Cu-Au deposit. This included a comprehensive geological briefing followed by inspection of drill core through the ore and country rocks.

  The group departed Osborne after 6:00 pm to fly southeast to Longreach to overnight before flying on to Brisbane next morning on Saturday. The stop at Longreach was to satisfy pilot duty hours restrictions. The tour participants stayed in Brisbane, where the tour ended, and the charter aircraft returned to Adelaide with the tour leader.

  Postscript: Within 15 years of the tour, all of the mines visited had different owners, and two had closed, Mount Isa Zinc underground and Osborne, both due to exhaustion of reserves.

  The tour was planned, organised and managed by Porter GeoConsultancy on behalf of the Australian Mineral Foundation who had been approached to design and provide it.
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