Clues From Zircon Time Capsules Direct Mineral Explorers To Copper Deposits in British Columbia

Vancouver, BC – September 22, 2020 – A new Geoscience BC report describes the unique chemical and textural characteristics within zircon mineral grains that can help mineral explorers identify granitoid rocks that are formed under 'copper-friendly' conditions.

British Columbia produced an estimated $1.8 billion of copper in 2019. Finding new copper deposits is important to BC’s economy and helps the world meet increases in global demand of copper for green technologies. Determining the characteristics of zircon mineral grains associated with the formation of porphyry copper deposits provides a new tool for mineral explorers to help identify exploration targets for deposits of copper more efficiently and effectively.

"The mineral zircon is a common accessory mineral in granitoid rocks, and has particular characteristics in granitoids that make up porphyry copper deposits," said Farhad Bouzari, lead researcher and research associate at the University of British Columbia's Mineral Deposit Research Unit.

He added: "Not all of these granitoid rocks or zircon grains are associated with copper deposits, so we looked for and found the chemical and textural differences in zircon mineral grains that are preferentially associated with copper deposits."

The Assessing Porphyry Copper Deposit Fertility in British Columbia Batholiths using Zircons report examines the key characteristics of zircon grains that can indicate a copper bearing porphyry deposit in BC. These zircon characteristics include particular trace element concentrations that can indicate the age of the rock and provide information about the magma (such as temperature) before it solidified to form granitoid rocks. It was also found that internal textures and zoning within a zircon grain gives clues to the environment of the rock's formation and ore-forming processes.

The research team analyzed 1,021 zircon grains from 42 rock samples collected from granitoid rocks in the Takomkane, Guichon Creek and Granite Mountain batholiths near the Woodjam porphyry district and Highland Valley Copper and Gibraltar mines in BC’s South Central Region, and the Toodoggone batholith in BC’s North Central Region, near the Kemess mine.

Geoscience BC Vice President, Minerals Christa Pellett, said: "This is an important study to show that zircon textures relate with copper 'fertility' in granitoid rocks. This adds another valuable cost-effective tool for evaluating porphyry potential across BC."

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