The MinSysFin project:

Mineral system models for supporting mineral exploration in Finland

A service related to mineral systems in Finland will be available via GTK’s website in 2019.

Text: Ferenc Molnár

The formation and preservation of mineral deposits are the result of complex interplay between various geological processes acting on different scales. Mineral system models summarize our views on these processes and highlight the importance of those time-dependent geological settings that favour the deposition, modification and preservation of certain types of ores. In Finland,  application of the concept of mineral systems to exploration started  a little over ten years ago.

The Academy of Finland’s MISU programme, launched in 2014, gave a big push to this research. As a result, GTK, together with the University of Oulu, received support for studying the mineral systems of magmatic sulphides and orogenic gold in Finland. This gave birth to the Mineral Systems and Mineral Prospectivity in Finnish Lapland (MinSysPro) project in cooperation with universities and research institutions of several other countries, as well as mining companies operating in Finland.

The development of a mineral system model starts with understanding of the geological evolution in the area being studied. Next, the aim is to define and identify those factors that reveal something about the origin of the mineral deposit, the passage of metals from their sources to those locations where they occur in economically significant concentrations, and the relative and absolute timing of processes creating favourable conditions for ore formation, as well as to recognise footprints of those processes in the rocks that associate with the formation or modification of deposits. Even if a large and comprehensive database is available, a specific piece of data significant for research may be missing. In these situations, researchers turn to known mineral belts and their individual deposits and study the area’s geological evolution from regional-scale to micron-scale levels.

The analysis of minerals and rocks has taken great leaps forward during the past 10–15 years, so that universities and research institutions have access to modern equipment. Detailed research can also be conducted in GTK’s laboratory centre, which also hosts the Finnish Geosciences Research Laboratory. In these laboratories, even new applications of analytical procedures can be developed.

Mineral system models save time and money

Currently, GTK is working on the development of a WEB service summarizing knowledge of major parameters in various types of mineral systems. The aim is to provide organised databases and links to other databases, as well as access to on-line services and experts in specific fields in order to support companies to select targets in an early stage of exploration in Finland.

The modules of the WEB service under development will introduce the crustal architecture and geological structures controlling the formation of mineral belts and deposits in Finland, the timing of ore-forming events during the geological evolution of major mineral belts, the primary and secondary footprints of ore-forming processes, mineral potential assessment and prospectivity maps and available services supporting further detailed mineral system analysis.

Among the economically important mineral resources, the orogenic gold mineral systems in Finland will be presented at first, and the WEB service for magmatic Ni-Cu-Co-Pge and other mineral systems will be developed during the forthcoming years.

The development and use of mineral system models requires diverse expertise and a broad cooperation network among experts. Using these models, we can better delineate areas where valuable minerals can probably be discovered. This saves time in setting up exploration projects, and thus also saves money. One of the biggest achievements of our research in orogenic gold systems was the development of a prospectivity map that indicates areas with a high probability for occurrences of undiscovered gold deposits in Lapland.

Results from the Rompas-Rajapalot project

Text: Sami Lehtinen

Mawson Resources has worked with GTK for more than six years. This cooperation has focused on understanding the origin of mineralisation and surveying the mineral distribution in the ground. The main goal of mineral research is to discover mineral deposits and plan as cost-efficient and comprehensive a mining strategy as possible.

− Research conducted in cooperation is useful, as it enables the exchange of expertise and knowledge, as well as advanced and varied research methods. In our Rompas-Rajapalot project, we have already discovered significant mineralisation. Now, our task is to determine the quantity of minerals in the ground and how they can be extracted as cost-efficiently as possible, says Nick Cook, President of Mawson Resources.

Mawson Resources considers the partnership with GTK to be both inspiring and educational. Joint projects produce volumes of new information for the field of geology and also for Finland.