Challenge the practice is addressing: One of the wealthiest tungsten-tin-(tantalum-lithium) mineral belts in the world is located in western and central-eastern Europe, where different types of mineralization are related to certain granitic rocks. These ore deposits were intensely mined till the 1980s when the global crash of metal prices triggered the closure of most of the tin mines. More recently, market and political changes in the 2010s initiated the gradual reactivation of this mining sector and currently, there are a few producing mines and tens of advanced exploration projects. However, all of these projects are brownfields and occur in or near already existing mine sites. This is partially caused by several issues that are specific for this type of mineralization. The deposits are usually low tonnage and mostly worked by SME’s, they form irregular masses or narrow veins with difficult grade control, resource evaluation, and ore processing. Furthermore, the restricted geographic location, away from the major ore belts, and the price crisis have kept these deposits away from the recent advances of conceptual exploration. All of these problems have hampered greenfields exploration and advances in ore concentration and resource estimation.
Concrete practice to achieve the expected goal: The proposed work includes the evaluation and definition of the key guides for ore exploration (conceptual modelling and definition of pathfinders and vectors to ore, including magnetic anomaly and trace element/mineralogical variations in hydrothermal aureoles, structural studies and geophysical exploration), the evaluation of mineralogical and petrophysical properties of these complex ores using a novel and efficient, water- and energy-saving prototype for comminution (VeRo Liberator®), a new method of grade and resource evaluation using digital discrimination of ores, as well as modern approaches to obtaining the social license for mining.
Expected impact/goal of the practice: This project aims to solve most of the problems that arise during the early and advanced stages of W-Sn-(Ta-Li) exploration, effective ore targeting, and ore processing. It is estimated that using the methods proposed, around ten new mines can be developed and opened, reaching the European self-production on a mid-term time scale. The technical work packages of this project are designed to solve specific problems related to the targeting of the most economically significant styles of W-Sn-(Ta-Li) mineralization. This is predicted to promote the interest of junior companies for these targets, giving guides for exploration and solving many of the technical problems that arise during the ‘Go or No-Go’ decisions in mineral exploration.
Who is the target user group of the practice/intervention or implementing the practice/intervention? This practice is in particular relevant in industry context.