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Project Information

  • Ore Deposit: Porphyry
  • Commodity: Copper, Gold, Molybdenum
  • Research Themes: Copper, Exploration Methods
  • Location: British Columbia, Canada
  • Project Status: Completed
  • Start Date: 2010
  • End Date: 2015

Porphyry indicator minerals (PIMS) are minerals, such as apatite, rutile and titanite, that form during porphyry copper deposit formation and are resistant to weathering. These minerals commonly display unique physical properties such as color, size and shape that allow their presence to be used as a prospecting tool in a similar manner to which kimberlite indicator minerals are used. Therefore, by evaluating the presence, abundances, relative proportions, and compositions of PIMS from surficial materials, it is possible to evaluate and better rank geophysical and geochemical anomalies to vector towards covered porphyry copper deposits.

MDRU is accumulating research knowledge to build a tool kit of indicator mineral features and chemistry to provide insights for exploration decision-making to aid in the discovery of covered porphyry deposits. Much of our work to date has been within British Columbia and funded by Geoscience BC.

Quesnel and Stikine terranes in central British Columbia host Late Triassic to Early Jurassic arcs that are highly-prospective hosts for porphyry copper deposits. However, exploration success in this area is limited due to thin, but extensive veneers of till and related glacial sediments that cover much of the area. QUEST and QUEST-West are examples of projects that have provided a significant amount of new geochemical and geophysical data that warrant follow-up exploration efforts. We suggest that glacial materials may best host evidence of concealed deposits. Resistate minerals can fill gaps in the current exploration knowledge in this region and have the potential to provide the missing link between ore deposits and glaciated sedimentary cover.

The aim of this project, supported by Geoscience BC, is to establish a methodology that can effectively evaluate existing geochemical and geophysical targets, and identify new targets and define vectors to source, in highly prospective, but till-covered areas of British Columbia. Specifically, we aim to identify the occurrence, types, relative amounts, character and compositions of porphyry indicator minerals in several well-known porphyry deposits, and determine their signatures in adjacent sedimentary materials (tills and stream sediments). The focus of the analytical work will be on characterizing the physical properties of resistate minerals such as relative abundances of mineral species, grain shape and grain size. Results of this project provide a simple tool to assess and rank prospective areas and, in conjunction with available data, better delineate targets.


Final Report

Bouzari, F., Hart, C.J.R. Hart, Barker, S., and Bissig, T., 2011, Porphyry Indicator Minerals (PIMS): A New Exploration Tool for Concealed Deposits in South-Central British Columbia, Download Geoscience BC Report 2011-172.2 Mb

Technical Articles
Bouzari, F., Hart, C.J.R., Bissig, T., and Barker, S., 2016, Hydrothermal alteration revealed by apatite luminescence and chemistry: A potential indicator mineral for exploring covered porphyry copper deposits: Economic Geology, v. 111, p.1397-1410. Download SEG Paper, 1.9 Mb

Celis, M.A., Bouzari, F., Bissig, T., Hart, C.J.R. and Ferbey, T., 2014, Petrographic characteristics of porphyry indicator minerals from alkalic porphyry copper-gold deposits in south-central British Columbia (NTS 092, 093); in Geoscience BC Summary of Activities 2013, Geoscience BC, Report 2014-1, p. 53–62. Download Geoscience BC Report 

Bouzari, F., Hart, C.J.R., Barker, S. and Bissig, T., 2010. Porphyry indicator minerals (PIMs): exploration for concealed deposits in south central British Columbia (NTS 092I/06, 093A/12, 093N/01, /14); in Geoscience BC Summary of Activities 2009, Geoscience BC, Report 2010-1, p. 25–32.Download Geoscience BC Report 2010, 4.6 Mb

Posters and Presentations

2013: PIMS – Porphyry Indicator Minerals from Alkalic Porphyry Cu-Au Deposits in British Columbia

2012: Porphyry Indicator Minerals (PIMs): A New Exploration Tool for Concealed Deposits in south-central British Columbia  Mineral Exploration Roundup Poster (pdf, 1.3 MB)

2011: Porphyry Indicator Minerals (PIMs): Targeting Mineralized Centres using Apatite Texture and Chemistry  Mineral Exploration Roundup Poster (pdf, 4.9 MB)

2010: Porphyry Indicator Minerals (PIMs): Exploration for Concealed Deposits in British Columbia  Mineral Exploration Roundup Poster (pdf, 1.36MB)


Project sponsors