Sulphur proves important in the formation of gold mines

Jan 06, 2011

Collaborating with an international research team, an economic geologist from The University of Western Ontario has discovered how gold-rich magma is produced, unveiling an all-important step in the formation of gold mines.

The findings were published in the December issue of Nature Geoscience.

Robert Linnen, the Robert Hodder Chair in Economic Geology in Western's Department of conducts research near Kirkland Lake, Ontario and says the results of the study could lead to a breakthrough in choosing geographic targets for gold exploration and making exploration more successful.

Noble metals, like gold, are transported by magma from deep within the mantle (below the surface) of the Earth to the shallow crust (the surface), where they form deposits. Through a series of experiments, Linnen and his colleagues from the University of Hannover (Germany), the University of Potsdam (Germany) and Laurentian University found that gold-rich magma can be generated in mantle also containing high amounts of .

"Sulphur wasn't recognized as being that important, but we found it actually enhances gold solubility and solubility is a very important step in forming a gold deposit," explains Linnen. "In some cases, we were detecting eight times the amount of gold if sulphur was also present."

Citing the World Gold Council, Linnen says the best estimates available suggest the total volume of mined up to the end of 2009 was approximately 165,600 tonnes. Approximately 65 per cent of that total has been mined since 1950.

"All the easy stuff has been found," offers Linnen. "So when you project to the future, we're going to have to come up with different ways, different technologies and different philosophies for finding more resources because the demand for resources is ever-increasing."

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Provided by University of Western Ontario

4.9 /5 (7 votes)

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sstritt
4.3 / 5 (6) Jan 06, 2011
"Sulphur proves important in the formation of gold mines"

Really? Perhaps they meant gold deposits. Humans are important in the formation of gold mines.
Bob_Kob
3 / 5 (4) Jan 06, 2011
LOL sulfur must be one hell of a chemical to create gold mines. Reminds me of the Tok'ra crystals that made tunnels in Stargate.
Au-Pu
1 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2011
As our two pedants point out it could have been a typo using mines instead of deposits.
But let us look a little deeper.
What it says is that sulphur is important in the process of forming gold deposits.
That sulphur makes the gold more soluble and this solubility allows for formation of richer deposits of gold.
The next step is for humans to locate the deposit and the final step is to create the mine to recover the gold for commercial purposes.
If we look at it in this context then the statement becomes correct.
So because sulphur concentrates gold into richer deposits it actually does constitute "an all important step in the formation of gold mines"
If our pedants are unable to contribute more constructively then would they please keep their views to themselves.
Remember, it is always better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.
Bob_Kob
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 07, 2011
mine
–noun
1.
an excavation made in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores, coal, precious stones, etc.

So unless sulfur excavates the gold, its bad terminology.

["Remember, it is always better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."]

Yeah but remember I don't know you, i'm behind the guise of the internet. Therefore I can say whatever the hell I want!
jamesrm
5 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2011
I can't believe they spelt Sulphur right, is Aluminium next?

rgds
jms
sstritt
3 / 5 (2) Jan 07, 2011
Someone needs to dig up some gold and buy themselves a sense of humor.
rgwalther
not rated yet Jan 07, 2011
After that spelt of sulphur, we need to smelt the gold.