Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources

A special issue of Minerals (ISSN 2075-163X). This special issue belongs to the section "Mineral Exploration Methods and Applications".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 8369

Special Issue Editors


E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Key Laboratory of Geochemical Exploration, Institute of Geophysical and Geochemical Exploration, CAGS, Langfang 065000, China
Interests: geochemical exploration in covered areas; geochemical mapping; geochemical baselines

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
CSIRO Mineral Resources, Perth, WA, Australia
Interests: mineral exploration; weathering processes; regolith mapping and landscpae evolution
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Guangxi Key Laboratory of Hidden Metallic Ore Deposits Exploration, Guilin University of Technology, Guilin 541004, China
Interests: geochemical exploration; environmental geochemistry

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Critical mineral resources are vital for economic growth, improving the quality of life, providing for national defense, and the overall functioning of modern society. Explorative geochemistry is an important tool in prospecting for these critical minerals. It has played a pivotal role in the exploration of a number of critical mineral resources. However, as the degree of exploration continues to increase, geochemical exploration faces increasing challenges. Ore bodies are buried at increasing depths, presenting increasingly complex geological situations and landscapes, and a number of emerging critical minerals are gradually coming to the attention of the prospecting industry. We must further develop geochemical methods that are indicative of these critical mineral resources in particular circumstances.

We aim to publish a Special Issue of the journal Minerals that presents a set of articles on “Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources”. The focus of the Special Issue will be on geochemical approaches applied to critical mineral exploration. Our Special Issue will cover a broad range of relevant topics of interest, including but not limited to:

  1. Dispersion mechanisms of ore-forming and pathfinder elements in the covered or weathered terrains;
  2. Near-surface geochemical exploration techniques and its application;
  3. New innovative exploration methods for vectoring toward concealed mineral deposits;
  4. Mineral exploration using indicator mineral geochemistry;
  5. Recent advances in hydro- and bio-isotope geochemistry applied to mineral exploration;
  6. Geochemical exploration for low-carbon energy mineral resources such as lithium, rare earth and uranium.

We look forward to receiving your contributions.

Dr. Bimin Zhang
Dr. Walid Salama
Dr. Zhixuan Han
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Minerals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • geochemical exploration
  • exploration methods
  • metal migration
  • critical mineral resources
  • transported cover
  • weathered terrains
  • concealed ore deposits
  • indicator mineral geochemistry
  • deep-penetrating geochemistry

Published Papers (8 papers)

Order results
Result details
Select all
Export citation of selected articles as:

Research

Jump to: Review

20 pages, 10787 KiB  
Article
Exploration Vectors and Indicators Extracted by Factor Analysis and Association Rule Algorithms at the Lintan Carlin-Type Gold Deposit, Youjiang Basin, China
by Xiaolong Wang, Shengtao Cao, Qinping Tan, Zhuojun Xie, Yong Xia, Lujing Zheng, Jianzhong Liu, Kelin Zhou, Jingdan Xiao and Tingxian Ren
Minerals 2024, 14(5), 492; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14050492 - 7 May 2024
Viewed by 445
Abstract
The Youjiang Basin in China is the world’s second-largest concentrated area of Carlin-type Au deposits after Nevada, USA, boasting cumulative Au reserves nearing 1000 t. This study examined the recently unearthed Lintan Carlin-type Au deposit within the Youjiang Basin. Factor analysis and association [...] Read more.
The Youjiang Basin in China is the world’s second-largest concentrated area of Carlin-type Au deposits after Nevada, USA, boasting cumulative Au reserves nearing 1000 t. This study examined the recently unearthed Lintan Carlin-type Au deposit within the Youjiang Basin. Factor analysis and association rule algorithms were used to identify exploration vectors and indicators essential for navigating this promising geological territory. In the Lintan mining area, the geological strata encompass the Triassic Bianyang, Niluo, and Xuman formations comprised clastic rocks, followed by the deeper Permian Wujiaping Formation with massive carbonate rocks. The orebodies are restricted to the F14 inverse fault, cutting through the Xuman Formation, with an additional F7 fault between the Wujiaping and Xuman formations. A total of 125 rock samples from the F14 fault and a representative cross-section were analyzed for 15 elements (Au, Ag, As, Bi, Cd, Co, Cu, Hg, Mo, Ni, Pb, Sb, Tl, W, and Zn). The elements were divided into four groups based on cluster and factor analysis. Group 1 (Co, Cu, Zn, Ni, Tl, W, and Bi) was mainly enriched in the Xuman, Niluo, and Bianyang formations controlled by sedimentary diagenesis. Group 2 (Au, As, Hg, and Sb) was concentrated in the F14 and F7 faults, representing Au mineralization. Group 3 (Pb, Ag, and Mo) was mostly enriched near the F14 and F7 faults, displaying a peripheral halo of Au mineralization, and was probability controlled by ore-forming hydrothermal activities. Group 4 (Cd and Mo) exhibited extreme enrichment along the periphery of the F7 fault. This pattern indicates the presence of a substantial hydrothermal alteration zone surrounding the fault, likely influenced by ore-forming hydrothermal processes. Additionally, Pb, Ag, Cd, Mo, and W are considered essential indicators for ore formation besides Au, As, Sb, Hg, and Tl. Twelve effective association rules were derived using the association rule algorithm, which can aid in discriminating Au mineralization. The spatial distributions of the 15 elements indicated that the F14 fault is the main ore-bearing fracture zone, while the F7 fault serves as the ore-conducting structure, channeling ore-forming fluids into the F14 fault. Faults between the Wujiaping and Xuman formations, along with their associated reverse faults, present potential prospecting targets both within and outside the Lintan Au deposit in the Youjiang Basin. Exploration geochemical data can be fully utilized by combining factor analysis and association rule algorithms, offering key guidance for prospecting Carlin-type gold and similar deposits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

18 pages, 5562 KiB  
Article
A Novel Method for Regional Prospecting Based on Modern 3D Graphics
by Zhaolong Xue, Song Wu, Miao Li and Kaiwang Cheng
Minerals 2024, 14(4), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14040354 - 28 Mar 2024
Viewed by 674
Abstract
During comprehensive regional prospecting evaluation and delineation of a prospecting target area, various types of data, including geological, geophysical, geochemical, and remote sensing, are usually integrated and visualized in a unified spatial environment, making it convenient for researchers to identify mineralization. To maximize [...] Read more.
During comprehensive regional prospecting evaluation and delineation of a prospecting target area, various types of data, including geological, geophysical, geochemical, and remote sensing, are usually integrated and visualized in a unified spatial environment, making it convenient for researchers to identify mineralization. To maximize the precision of spatial boundaries, the maps traditionally used in prospecting are predominantly in vector formats. However, with the rapid development of modern real-time 3D graphics and computer cartography technology, raster maps can now provide richer detail representation compared to traditional vector maps while still meeting the precision requirements. In this paper, we present a new GPU-based 3D visualization method for spatial data, specifically, two types of bitmap-based maps called dynamic geochemical maps (DGMs) and interactive geological maps (IGMs). A novel software system implementing this method was developed and has been applied in the exploration of the Zhunuo ore district, Tibet, showing large advantages over traditional vector maps. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 7307 KiB  
Article
Gold Migration and Precipitation as Collaurum in Orogenic Gold Deposits: Constrains from Microscopic Gold Particles Observed in the Alteration Zone in Shanggong Gold Ore, Henan, China
by Yu Qiao, Zhixuan Han, Bimin Zhang, Xiaocheng Wei, Chunfang Dong and Hanliang Liu
Minerals 2024, 14(3), 327; https://doi.org/10.3390/min14030327 - 21 Mar 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 905
Abstract
Aqueous complexation has long been considered the only viable means of transporting gold to depositional sites in hydrothermal ore-forming systems. Here, we present direct evidence supporting an alternative hypothesis, namely, the transport of gold as colloidal particles. We observed nano-scale gold particles adsorbed [...] Read more.
Aqueous complexation has long been considered the only viable means of transporting gold to depositional sites in hydrothermal ore-forming systems. Here, we present direct evidence supporting an alternative hypothesis, namely, the transport of gold as colloidal particles. We observed nano-scale gold particles adsorbed on halloysite and micro-scale gold particles in altered rocks by TEM and SEM in the Shanggong orogenic gold deposit. Based on this evidence, we propose a feasible model for the origin of microscopic gold particles in alteration zones. In the early stage of ore-forming fluid, gold may migrate in the form of collaurum, which is maintained by supercritical CO2 and colloidal silica. Low salinity and high pressure are conducive to the stable migration of colloidal gold. When the physicochemical conditions change, some collaurum is precipitated and adsorbed by the clay minerals produced by hydrothermal alteration, and some collaurum undergoes growth and evolves into micro-submicrometer-sized gold particles. This study highlighted the significance of collaurum in the formation of orogenic gold deposits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

13 pages, 8724 KiB  
Article
The Delineation of Copper Geochemical Blocks and the Identification of Ore-Related Anomalies Using Singularity Analysis of Stream Sediment Geochemical Data in the Middle and Lower Reaches of the Yangtze River and Its Adjacent Areas, China
by Bin Liu, Xingtao Cui and Xueqiu Wang
Minerals 2023, 13(11), 1397; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13111397 - 31 Oct 2023
Viewed by 752
Abstract
The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its adjacent areas contain abundant mineral resources, especially porphyry–skarn–stratabound Cu–Au–Mo–Fe deposits, and still have great potential for mineral prospecting. In this paper, geochemical blocks and local singularity mapping methods were used to delineate [...] Read more.
The middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and its adjacent areas contain abundant mineral resources, especially porphyry–skarn–stratabound Cu–Au–Mo–Fe deposits, and still have great potential for mineral prospecting. In this paper, geochemical blocks and local singularity mapping methods were used to delineate the spatial distribution pattern of Cu and identify the geochemical anomalies related to Cu deposits. Six copper geochemical blocks, each with an area of more than 1000 km2, were all spatially consistent with the locations of the five Cu ore districts (Edongnan, Jiurui, Anqing-Guichi, Tongling, and Ningzhen) and one ore field (Dexing) in the study area. Thus, geochemical blocks delineated with low-density geochemical data can effectively track the locations of ore districts or large ore deposits. Most of the known Cu deposits in the study area were located in anomalous areas with singularity indices less than 1.741 in the Cu singularity map. The singularity analysis could reduce the anomalous areas and identify the geochemical anomalies related to Cu deposits effectively. Geochemical blocks combining a local singularity mapping method is an effective tool for identifying prospecting targets. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

14 pages, 7410 KiB  
Article
Inert Gas—A New Geochemical Technology for Natural Gas Hydrate Exploration in Midlatitude Permafrost
by Ruiling Tang, Jinli Xu, Ziwan Chen, Bin Liu and Jinfeng Bai
Minerals 2023, 13(11), 1393; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13111393 - 30 Oct 2023
Viewed by 906
Abstract
The development of geochemical exploration technologies unaffected by marsh microorganisms is necessary to improve the prediction of wells and explore for natural gas hydrates in mid-latitude permafrost areas. Here, we examine the potential of inert gas as a new tool for the investigation [...] Read more.
The development of geochemical exploration technologies unaffected by marsh microorganisms is necessary to improve the prediction of wells and explore for natural gas hydrates in mid-latitude permafrost areas. Here, we examine the potential of inert gas as a new tool for the investigation of gas hydrates in permafrost areas. The study area, 150 km2 in size, is situated in the alpine wetland landscape of the Qilian Mountains. The sampling density and depth were 2 points/km2 and 60 cm, respectively. In total, 300 soil and headspace gas samples were collected. The chromatographic backflush technique was used to analyze the inert gases helium (He) and neon (Ne) in the headspace gas samples. A comprehensive interpretation was conducted based on geological and geochemical survey results. We propose a geogas migration mechanism of inert gases in the soil above the natural gas hydrate deposits. The inert gas anomalies near the ground surface of the Muli coalfield in the Qilian Mountains, derived from the deep hydrate deposits and fault structure, are not affected by marsh microorganisms. Thus, inert gas anomalies are practical tools for natural gas hydrate exploration in permafrost areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

11 pages, 8220 KiB  
Article
The Application of Portable X-ray Fluorescence (pXRF) for Elemental Analysis of Sediment Samples in the Laboratory and Its Influencing Factors
by Shuguang Zhou, Jinlin Wang, Yong Bai, Wei Wang and Shanshan Wang
Minerals 2023, 13(8), 989; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13080989 - 25 Jul 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1246
Abstract
Several techniques, such as chemical methods and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), are available to accurately determine element content. However, they are time-consuming, labor-intensive, or expensive. Portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) can be applied in various scenarios, with significantly higher efficiency and [...] Read more.
Several techniques, such as chemical methods and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), are available to accurately determine element content. However, they are time-consuming, labor-intensive, or expensive. Portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry (pXRF) can be applied in various scenarios, with significantly higher efficiency and cost-effectiveness than laboratory methods. However, it also has limitations such as lower detection capability, relatively high detection limits, and lower accuracy than laboratory methods. In this study, we focused on applying pXRF to determine the elemental content of sediment samples and investigate its use in mineral exploration. A variety of factors influencing the results of pXRF analysis were analyzed. Our results showed that pXRF could detect more than 30 elements in stream sediments. The reliability of pXRF’s measurements was affected by factors such as the kind of element, sediment particle size, sample grinding treatment, count time, averaged element content, standard deviation of content, and range of content variation. The combination of pXRF analysis and laboratory analysis of partial samples is adequate for establishing a multi-element content inference equation. With this equation, it is possible to effectively infer the content gradient of elements, which will provide valuable support for mineral resource exploration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

16 pages, 7740 KiB  
Article
Distribution and Genesis of Potassium-Bearing Minerals in Lop Nor Playa, Xinjiang, China
by Kai Wang, Yu Zhang, Jiahuan Han, Lichun Ma, Mianping Zheng, Yue Wu and Banwang Yang
Minerals 2023, 13(4), 560; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13040560 - 17 Apr 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1225
Abstract
Lop Nor Playa is the main salt-forming area in the Tarim Basin, which is rich in brine resources. There is a large amount of potassium fertilizer produced from potassium-rich brine in Lop Nor annually, which meets about half of the demands of China’s [...] Read more.
Lop Nor Playa is the main salt-forming area in the Tarim Basin, which is rich in brine resources. There is a large amount of potassium fertilizer produced from potassium-rich brine in Lop Nor annually, which meets about half of the demands of China’s agricultural potash, along with that produced in the Qaidam Basin. In order to investigate the distribution characteristics of potassium-bearing minerals and the origin of potassium-bearing salts in Lop Nor Playa, mineralogy and hydrogeochemistry studies were carried out. The results showed that there are a large number of polyhalite layers distributed in the Luobei Depression and Xinqing Platform. Brines with high content of K+ and Mg2+ have reactions with calcium sulfate minerals, generating secondary polyhalite layers. Carnallite layers are mainly distributed in subbasins along fault zones in all three mining areas with small size. Ca-Cl-type waters rise to the surface along fault zones and mix with ground water as soon as they appear on the ground, forming the deposits of carnallite and bischofite after evaporation. During the generation of potassic salts, fault zones, on the one hand, control the margin of mining areas and the distribution of polyhalite layers. On the other hand, they act as the migration and reaction space for salt spring water, providing large amounts of ore-forming elements such as Ca2+, K+, and Mg2+. This study provides a theoretical basis for the exploration of potassium-rich brine in the Lop Nor Basin. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Review

Jump to: Research

29 pages, 8256 KiB  
Review
Geogas-Carried Metal Prospecting for Concealed Ore Deposits: A Review of Case Studies in China
by Qiang Wang, Xueqiu Wang, Zhizhong Cheng, Bimin Zhang, Zezhong Du, Taotao Yan, Huixiang Yuan, Xiaolei Li, Yu Qiao and Hanliang Liu
Minerals 2023, 13(12), 1553; https://doi.org/10.3390/min13121553 - 16 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1062
Abstract
Geogas-carried metal prospecting, an integral part of deep-penetrating geochemistry, is potentially effective in the geochemical exploration of concealed ore deposits. However, its principles and applicability remain controversial. This study summarizes and discusses the progress in geogas-carried metal prospecting in China. The method comprises [...] Read more.
Geogas-carried metal prospecting, an integral part of deep-penetrating geochemistry, is potentially effective in the geochemical exploration of concealed ore deposits. However, its principles and applicability remain controversial. This study summarizes and discusses the progress in geogas-carried metal prospecting in China. The method comprises three constituents: geogas, nanoparticles, and their vertical transportation. Researchers have failed to determine the exact contributions of different sources of geogas. Studies on Pb isotopes, rare earth element patterns of geogas, the comparisons between metals in soil, geogas, and ore geochemistry, and characteristics of nanoscale metals in earthgas (NAMEG), confirmed the relationship between NAMEG and concealed ore deposits. A statistical analysis of field experiments and applications showed that geogas-carried metal prospecting is applicable for the geochemical exploration of magmatic and hydrothermal Cu, Au, Zn, Pb, U, Sn, and Ag deposits and is suitable for most geochemical landscapes except deserts and cold swamps. Finally, genetic models of NAMEG anomalies were constructed. High-permeability migration channels are critical in the formation of NAMEG anomalies over concealed ore deposits. Future work entails applying geogas-carried metal prospecting to certain types of ore deposits and geochemical landscapes and studying NAMEG to provide quantitative information for targeting concealed ore deposits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geochemical Exploration for Critical Mineral Resources)
Show Figures

Figure 1

Back to TopTop