University of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Lithofacies associations and evolution of the volcanic host succession to the Minifie ore zone: Ladolam gold deposit, Lihir Island, Papua New Guinea

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-18, 07:11 authored by Blackwell, JL, David CookeDavid Cooke, Jocelyn McPhieJocelyn McPhie, Simpson, KA

The 46-million-ounce Ladolam gold deposit, the largest alkalic epithermal gold deposit in the world in terms of contained gold, is composed of four ore zones: Minifie, Lienetz, Kapit, and Coastal. This detailed lithofacies study of the Minifie ore zone recognized three evolutionary stages: (1) volcanosedimentary strata (part of an alkalic composite volcanic island), (2) a porphyry-style breccia dike, and (3) epithermal-style breccias. The Plio-Pleistocene volcanosedimentary stratigraphy reflects the transition from subaerial deposition of pyroclastic surge deposits close to vent to a subaqueous, quiet depositional environment into which a cryptodome was emplaced. The stratigraphy is predominantly composed of polymictic, matrix-supported breccia and sandstone interbedded with lavas and shallow intrusions. The Minifie strata have a shallow southward dip as a result of Quaternary uplift. Overprinting the volcanosedimentary stratigraphy are three hydrothermally cemented breccia facies—one deposited in the porphyry environment and two deposited in the epithermal environment.

Porphyry-style alteration assemblages and a 3- to 5-m-wide biotite-K-feldspar-calcite-anhydrite–cemented breccia dike are focused around the central “Minifie shear” fault. The porphyry alteration assemblages are overprinted by shallow-level and deeper-level epithermal-style features. The deeper-level (below the present mining surface; >140 m below sea level) epithermal vein stockwork is composed of quartz-calcite-adularia-anhydrite–cemented breccias and shallowly northward to near-horizontal dipping veins that have gold grades of 1 to >60 g/t Au. Shallow-level epithermal facies (adularia-quartz-pyrite–cemented breccias, veins, and associated alteration) host the bulk mineable gold ore, and typically yield >4 g/t Au over 12-m blast hole samples.


Australian Research Council

AMIRA International Ltd

ARC C of E Industry Partner $ to be allocated

Anglo American Exploration Philippines Inc

AngloGold Ashanti Australia Limited

Australian National University

BHP Billiton Ltd

Barrick (Australia Pacific) PTY Limited

CSIRO Earth Science & Resource Engineering

Mineral Resources Tasmania

Minerals Council of Australia

Newcrest Mining Limited

Newmont Australia Ltd

Oz Minerals Australia Limited

Rio Tinto Exploration

St Barbara Limited

Teck Cominco Limited

University of Melbourne

University of Queensland

Zinifex Australia Ltd


Publication title

Economic Geology










School of Natural Sciences


Economic Geology Publ Co

Place of publication

5808 South Rapp St, Ste 209, Littleton, USA, Co, 80120-1942

Rights statement

Copyright 2014 Society of Economic Geologists, Inc.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania



    Ref. manager