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Open AccessArticle

Epithermal Mineralization in the Busang Southeast Zone, Indonesia: New Insight into the Au Prospect at the Center of the Bre-X Fraud

1
Department of Earth Sciences, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4R2, Canada
2
Department of Geology, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, NS B3H 3C3, Canada
3
North Vancouver, BC V7M 2H4, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Minerals 2020, 10(8), 698; https://doi.org/10.3390/min10080698
Received: 9 July 2020 / Revised: 1 August 2020 / Accepted: 2 August 2020 / Published: 6 August 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Mineral Deposits)
The Busang mineral prospect in Kalimantan, Indonesia, was reported to host a large Au resource until 1997 when it was revealed that drill core samples had been deliberately and systematically contaminated (“salted”) with extraneous Au to falsify resource estimates. One month before the fraud was uncovered, Dr. G. Milligan, then professor emeritus of geology, visited the site to collect a suite of core samples for academic study that was deemed representative of the host rocks, alteration, and mineralization of the Busang Southeast Zone. These samples were re-examined here by optical microscopy, electron microprobe (EMPA), whole-rock geochemistry, and fluid inclusion microthermometry to characterize the subsurface geology and hydrothermal mineralization, and to assess reasons why the system is of uneconomic character. The host rocks were variably altered calc-alkaline porphyritic subvolcanic diorites, typical of the lithological units along the mineralized trend in the Kalimantan Gold Belt. Early hydrothermal mineralization with quartz-sulfide (pyrite, chalcopyrite, Cu-sulfosalts) stockwork veinlets associated with pervasive phyllic and propylitic alteration was overprinted by crudely banded quartz-carbonate-sulfide/sulfosalt (pyrite, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, galena, tennantite-tetrahedrite, bournonite-seligmannite) veins. The stockwork veins were associated with up to 140 ppb bulk rock Au, some of which was hosted by Cu-sulfosalts. Microthermometry on quartz-hosted aqueous fluid inclusion assemblages (FIA; n = 13) and single inclusions (non-FIA; n = 20) in quartz-carbonate-sulfide/sulfosalt veins yielded an overall range in homogenization temperatures (Th) between 179 °C and 366 °C and bulk salinities between 1.1 wt.% to 8.6 wt.% NaCl equivalent, with much smaller data ranges for individual FIA (e.g., FIA 3; 239.1 °C to 240.5 °C and 0.5 wt.% to 1.4 wt.% NaCl equivalent). Primary FIA along growth zones in quartz were identified, providing constraints on fluid characteristics at the time of quartz growth. Carbonate-hosted FIA (n = 3) and single inclusions (non-FIA; n = 3) in the same veins yielded Th between 254 °C and 343 °C and bulk salinities of 1.1 wt.% to 11.6 wt.% NaCl equivalent. Likewise, data ranges for individual FIA were much smaller. Many of the geological characteristics of the Busang Southeast Zone were compatible with a telescoped, intermediate-sulfidation epithermal system, having formed from diluted magmatic fluids that precipitated weak base metal mineralization. However, the system was unproductive with respect to Au and Ag, at least within the studied area. Of note, vein textures and fluid inclusion characteristics indicative of boiling or efficient fluid mixing—processes both considered critical for the formation of economic lode gold deposits—were absent in the samples. View Full-Text
Keywords: Busang; epithermal; intermediate-sulfidation; fluid inclusions; gold Busang; epithermal; intermediate-sulfidation; fluid inclusions; gold
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MDPI and ACS Style

Slater, E.; Hanley, J.; Mulja, T.; Zentilli, M.; Trottier, C. Epithermal Mineralization in the Busang Southeast Zone, Indonesia: New Insight into the Au Prospect at the Center of the Bre-X Fraud. Minerals 2020, 10, 698. https://doi.org/10.3390/min10080698

AMA Style

Slater E, Hanley J, Mulja T, Zentilli M, Trottier C. Epithermal Mineralization in the Busang Southeast Zone, Indonesia: New Insight into the Au Prospect at the Center of the Bre-X Fraud. Minerals. 2020; 10(8):698. https://doi.org/10.3390/min10080698

Chicago/Turabian Style

Slater, Evan; Hanley, Jacob; Mulja, Thomas; Zentilli, Marcos; Trottier, Corwin. 2020. "Epithermal Mineralization in the Busang Southeast Zone, Indonesia: New Insight into the Au Prospect at the Center of the Bre-X Fraud" Minerals 10, no. 8: 698. https://doi.org/10.3390/min10080698

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