- © 2000 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Coarse gold-bearing veins are characterized by high grades that are localized and erratic. Effective sampling of coarse gold-bearing veins is difficult because of the low concentration and erratic nature of the gold particles. Diamond drilling is an effective measure of geological continuity, however, grade distribution can only be reliably obtained from underground development (including close-spaced sampling, bulk sampling, and trial mining). Comparison between surface and underground drilling, underground linear/panel and bulk sampling indicate that drilling and linear/panel samples generally understate bulk sample grades. Bulk samples are likely to be the closest estimators of true grade. It is unlikely that anything above an Inferred Resource category can be estimated from surface drilling alone, and at best the grade will only be a global estimate. Underground development, in-fill drilling and bulk sampling/trial mining will be required to delineate Indicated and Measured Resources. Closely spaced development and bulk sampling is likely to be the only way to determine Reserves. The resource estimation process must driven by a clear geological model that should attempt to understand both geological and grade continuity. Traditionally, grade interpolation has been undertaken using classical methods, though more recently, computer-based block modelling techniques have been used with some success. Three case histories are presented, documenting the problems of estimating resources in coarse gold-bearing veins and the practical ways in which they were approached.