A Geologist On The Unlikely Locations Of The Largest Gold Mines
I have a confession. I’ve become obsessed with mining in a part of the world that most industry observers would find very, very strange.
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As I outlined in Prime Meridians a few weeks back, it’s because of one mine. Japan’s only gold producer — and a project that I’ve come to believe is the world’s greatest goldmine.
That’s Hishikari, on the southern island of Kyushu — a development run by Sumitomo. Which hosts a mind-blowing mineral resource of 7 million ounces grading 40 grams per tonne gold.
There’s not much else like that on Earth. To put it in perspective, folks in the mining sector were buzzing when Arequipa Resources discovered just over 7 million ounces at 2 grams per tonne at the Pierina project in Peru in 1996. With the stock going from $0.50 to as high as $35 on the find.
Arequipa Resources had one of the greatest “discovery runs” in history when it found the Pierina deposit — and the Hishikari mine is five times richer
A big part of the attractiveness of Pierina was a high-grade zone called Payback Hill — which ran about 8 grams per tonne gold. So you can imagine what might happen if you were able to find another similar-sized deposit at five times that grade — exactly what we have at Hishikari.
And here’s the thing. As I outlined in my previous missive, structural geology provides some strong clues about where another Hishikari might be found.
After looking at this data, I haven’t been able to sit still. And late last week I booked a flight to Jakarta and then on to the east of the country. Where I’ll be jumping onto a bush plane Monday to head to a few remote islands in search of Hishikari-like rocks.
I’m especially intrigued at this expedition because of the geologic similarities of this area to another massive gold mine — the Lihir project in Papua New Guinea. With that multi-million ounce producer being located on a similar island just along the arc here.
It’s going to be an adventure — both geologically and culturally. With a extensive literature search the past few weeks revealing only a very few research papers on this remote area. And a check of Google Images turning up some tantalizing views like the one below.
Eastern Indonesia’s not a bad place to work — especially if it holds a look-alike for the world’s greatest goldmine
There’s of course a lot of ifs and could-be’s here (especially in light of Indonesia’s recent political snafus in the mining sector). But boots on the ground, backed by solid research and concepting, are the way true discoveries get made. And discoveries offer the chance to find game-changing deposits the way pioneers like Arequipa have done.
In short, you don’t know until you go. So I’m gone. Likely no Pierce Points next week as internet and even cell service look spotty at best here. I’ll be in Seoul, Korea the following week for project meetings — get back to then with more details and hopefully an intriguing photo or few.