Photo Essay – A peculiar deposit… above the clouds, El Soldado

El Soldado ( The Soldier) is a peculiar copper deposit in the Chilean Andes with mineralization believed be associated to primary lithological factors (such as composition and porosity), structure, metamorphism, granitic intrusion, petroleum, yes, petroleum and bacteria. I will get into the details of the interesting and debatable geology in a next post but first let me show you what it looks like there. Chile and its Andes mountains are special, and it was a fantastic experience to visit such an interesting and historic mine above the clouds.

I have made mention of this mine in a previous post (here) before. It is an Anglo American operation situated 130 km north of Santiago and at 600 m above sea level. This operation produces around 50 000 t of copper per year and has around 175 Mt in reserves @ 0.8 % Cu.

I could log core here all day long!

A beautiful setting for the core yard and sampling facilities with the Andes canvassing the background.

Early morning high.

The pit high wall seen on the left rises up to 700 m from the pit floor. The early morning, light fog, sunlight and different soil and rock colours is a beautiful sight. Other Andes peaks are also visible from up here with snow capped peaks all year round.

The haul trucks getting in on

Different levels and access roads in and out of the pit.

Drill rigs prepare for the blast!

Drill rigs preparing the pit floor for the next blast. The dust cones are visible here, which are routinely sampled for grade control.

Mining above the clouds

The early morning clouds coming in from the cold pacific 60 or so kilometres to the west.

Haul trucks taking care of business!

The haul trucks taking care of business.

Juicy sulphides!

And some core. This is in fact a rare showing of sulphides on this scale. At this deposit, sulphides are more commonly disseminated sulphides barely visible to the naked eye.

Rhyodacites, andasites and some basalts host the mineralization at El Soldado

Rhyodacites, andasites and some basalts host the mineralization at El Soldado.

Let me know what you think! Soon I will follow up with some of the aforementioned peculiar geology. To keep in the loop, subscribe top left.

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