You are on page 1of 2

High-Sulphidation Gold Deposits of the World

Michael Thomsen
August 2006


High-sulphidation gold systems are a unique and increasingly important type of mineral deposit.
These systems are formed within a vertical continuum from shallow epithermal environments to
the upper portions of porphyry copper/gold deposits. This paper presents information on some of
the largest and most important high-sulphidation (HS) gold districts in the world. This deposit
type has become the dominant model for many international mineral exploration programs. While
the three largest HS districts in the world are located in Latin America (Yanacocha in Peru,
Pueblo Viejo in the Dominican Republic, and Pascua/Lama/Veladero in Chile/Argentina), these
types of gold systems have been found in virtually every Cretaceous/Tertiary volcanic terrain that
also hosts productive porphyry copper-gold mineralization. The recent gold discoveries at
Pierina, Veladero, Alto Chicama, Santa Rosa (Puno) and Cerro Aruntani indicate that a focused
exploration program targeting the geologic characteristics favorable for high sulphidation gold
mineralization will meet with success. Interestingly, three of the four most recent Andean high
sulphidation gold discoveries have been made by junior companies (Arequipa Resources,
Argentina Gold, and Mra. Del Hill). Only the Alto Chicama deposit was discovered by a major
company (Barrick). This string of discoveries has reignited gold exploration in the Andes and in
other favourable volcanic terrains, particularly the Tethyan Belt extending from Turkey through
Iran and into Pakistan.

Characteristics of the HS Deposit Type

The usage of the term high-sulphidation refers to the fundamental genetic state of the
hydrothermal system (i.e., the highly oxidized state of sulphur). The terms acid sulfate, enargite-
gold, Goldfield-type, high sulfur, quartz-alunite-Au and alunite-kaolinite were previously used to
describe this type of deposit. This group of deposits shows a common set of diagnostic minerals
indicating high-sulphidation states (pyrite, enargite, luzonite) and acidic fluid conditions (alunite,
kaolinite and pyrophyllite). The dominant and ubiquitous alteration feature of HS deposits is the
presence of fracture controlled vuggy silica which is the result of intensive acid leaching. Lateral
to a central vuggy leached silica zone, quartz occurs with magmatic-hydrothermal alunite and
minerals such as pyrophyllite, kaolinite, diaspore, dickite and zunyite which are typical of
hypogene acidic conditions.

HS deposits display a wide variety of styles of mineralization that include hydrothermal breccia
bodies, stockworks, veins, and disseminations. Some HS deposits are hosted entirely within a
single dome (Summitville) while and others are located within a dome complex such as
Yanacocha, Pueblo Viejo, and Julcani.

New High Sulphidation Gold Discoveries in the Last Five Years

While the worlds five largest high sulphidation gold districts have been found in Latin America,
there has been a recent string of new discoveries elsewhere in the world that has reignited
exploration for these types of volcanic hosted gold systems.

Select List of High-Sulphidation Gold Deposits

Deposit Country Observations/Comments

+40 million ounce HS systems:

Yanacocha Peru 50 M oz. reserve/resource/past production
Pueblo Viejo Dominican Republic 40 M oz. combined district resource
Pascua//Lama/Veladero Chile/Argentina 40 M oz. combined district resource

5 to 15 million ounce HS systems:

Alto Chicama Peru Discovery in 2002 in Peru
Chelopech Bulgaria Currently the largest gold deposit in Europe
Chinkuashih Taiwan Contains high grade breccia pipes and veins
El Indio/Tambo Chile Primarily high grade veins and breccias
Goldfield United States High grade veins and the alunite ledge
Lepanto Philippines HS system with FSE porphyry and Victoria
Pierina Peru Discovered by Arequipa Resources

Select HS systems containing less than 5 million ounces:

Angostura Colombia Aruntani Peru
Bor Yugoslavia La Zanja Peru
Choquelimpie Chile El Hueso Chile
El Sauzal Mexico Enasen Sweden
Famatina Argentina Furtei Italy
Guanaco Chile Julcani Peru
La Coipa Chile Lahoca Hungary
Majdanpek Yugoslavia Motomboto Indonesia
Mount Kasi Fiji Mulatos Mexico
Nalesbitan Philippines Nansatsu Japan
Nena PNG Osilo Italy
Paradise Peak USA Rodalquilar Spain
Santa Rosa (Puno) Peru Seongsan South Korea
Sipan Peru Spahievo Bulgaria
Srednogorie Bulgaria Summitville USA
Tantahuatay Peru Temora Australia
Wafi PNG Zijinshan China

Table from: High-Sulphidation Gold Deposits of the World, Michael Thomsen, August 2006