Geochemical relationships of strategic metals of the newly discovered porphyry-epithermal ore deposits, Taca-Taca system, Argentina


The mining industry faces a number of critical challenges both now and in the future beyond those typically considered by geologists. In par-ticular, challenges with the economics of ore de-posits, including what makes a mineral deposit economic beyond grade and tonnage, the social and environmental challenges faced by future brownfield and greenfield mining, long term trends in resource use, production, and future trends in demands for metals and minerals, and estimates of global metal resources and the controls on the conversion of resources to reserves to production. Research into what makes world-class deposits truly world class (i.e., not just size alone), the po-tential challenges of increasing by-product recov-ery from existing and future mineral resources, including opportunities for generating wealth from e.g. mine waste (especially tailings), as well as the human resources required by the minerals indus-try to meet these current and future challenges are paramount. Previous research proposes that the juvenile lower crust plays a dominant role in the metal endowment in porphyry-epithermal systems. The Taca Taca porphyry Cu-Au-Mo +strategic by-product metal deposit (2,165 mT at 0.44 % copper, 0.01 % Mo and 0.1 g/t gold) is lo-cated in Salta Province, northwestern Argentina, ~230 km WNW the city of Salta.
The overall objective is to develop a better under-standing of the porphyry-epithermal mineraliza-tion of the Taca-Taca system that relates directly with pulses of tectonic-related exhumation and uplift. The research will evaluate the temporal re-lationship between the main pulse of tectonic up-lift in the the study region with the formation of porphyry and epithermal hydrothermal systems to understand the strategic metallogeny of the district. Ultimately the findings will be compared porphyry-epithermal systems through the Andes Cordillera to evaluate the controls on strategic metal endowment.

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Image Captions

Photo and aerial image of the Taca-Taca porphyry system, Salta Province, Argentina


Field work in and around the Taca-Taca system will be a fundamental component of the research that will be coupled with geochemical and geo-chronology analyses and data synopsis. The latter will be completed at Durham University and Universidad Nacional del Sur.
1) Spatial, temporal and geochemical relationship development of porphyry-epithermal events within the Taca-Taca system.
2) Development of geodynamic models to account for the metal endowment.

Project Timeline

Year 1

Field work in Argentina
research at Universidad Nacional del Sur
Initial petrographic, geochemistry, geochronology at Durham and Glasgow
Durham postgraduate training

Year 2

Second field season in Argentina
research at Universidad Nacional del Sur
further petrographic, geochemistry, geochronology
initial synopsis of research
conference presentation

Year 3

Completion of analytical research
Synopsis of research into paper
conference presentation

Year 3.5

Completion of papers and thesis
Thesis defense and graduation.

& Skills

We are looking for a highly motivated student that can combine their geological knowledge with chemistry to yield a much improved understan-ding of the porphyry-epithermal systems.
Specifically the PhD will involve training in stan-dard and State-of-the-art geochemical and rhe-nium-osmium geochemistry, extensive field trai-ning, and post graduate training courses.
Project is supported by First Quantum Minerals Ltd as a CASE-NERC-IAPETUS program.
A working knowledge of Spanish is advantageous.

References & further reading

Sillitoe, R.H., 1977. Permo-Carboniferous upper Cretaceous and Miocene porphyry copper-type mineralization in the Argentine Andes, Economic Geology, v. 72, p. 99-109.

Further Information

david.selby at
lauramaydagan at

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