25 years of mineral exploration and discovery in Indonesiax

Title25 years of mineral exploration and discovery in Indonesiax
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1994
Authorsvan Leeuwen TM
JournalJournal of Geochemical Exploration
Date PublishedMar
Type of ArticleReview
ISBN Number0375-6742
Accession NumberISI:A1994NG55200003

This paper traces the history of mineral exploration in Indonesia between 1967 and 1992, and discusses various technical aspects, such as area selection, exploration and discovery methods, and significant geologic features of the more important new discoveries. Exploration activity over the past 25 years can be divided into four main phases. Phase 1 (1967-1976) mostly involved investigations of mineral prospects and districts previously identified by the Dutch. These investigations resulted in many discoveries, including: a major copper-gold district (skarn-porphyry copper) in Irian Jaya, where exploration is still in progress (resources identified to date: 28 Mt Cu and 2,700 t Au); large nickel resources in Eastern Indonesia (13 Mt Ni); significant onshore and offshore tin resources in the Sumateran tin belt (0.13 Mt Sn); and large but low grade bauxite deposits in West Kalimantan (300 Mt Al2O3). Of the eight Contracts of Work signed between 1967 and 1972, six reached the mining stage. Phase 2 (1970-1975) consisted of an extensive porphyry copper search in the Sunda arc, the western arc of Sulawesi and the central belt of Irian Jaya. Best results were obtained from northern Sulawesi, where follow-up between 1976 and 1982 identified three potentially economic copper-gold deposits (1.7 Mt Cu and 140 t Au) and one subeconomic molybdenum porphyry system (0.8 Mt Mo). During Phase 3 (1981-1988) extensive coal exploration in South and East Kalimantan delineated over 5,000 Mt of coal of varying rank and quality, including 1,500 Mt as measured reserves in 17 deposits, eight of which have been developed to date. Phase 4 (1984-1990) involved a major gold rush, focused primarily on the Cenozoic magmatic belts of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Moluccas and the Sunda arc. Over 80 primary and alluvial gold prospects were drill tested. Five of these were brought into production (two alluvial deposits, two new hard rock discoveries and one Dutch mine), containing approximately 135 tonnes of mineable gold, and several other projects are under development or undergoing feasibility studies. Total geological resources identified to date are estimated to contain about 700 tonnes of gold. Exploration during phase 4 also resulted in several gold-rich porphyry copper discoveries, including a major deposit in Sumbawa (2.7 Mt Cu and 250 t Au). Intermittent exploration for uranium, diamonds and lead/zinc since 1969 has been largely unsuccessful. Exploration is now passing to the next phase, which is likely to be multi-commodity in nature with a strong focus on gold, copper and coal. A number of deposits outlined during earlier phases will be developed. The unprecedented high level of mineral exploration activity over the past 25 years can be attributed to Indonesia's mineral prospectivity and favourable investment climate. Given a continued competitive commercial environment and sustained commodity prices, the next 25 years should see further strong development of the country's mineral resources.

URL<Go to ISI>://A1994NG55200003
Alternate JournalJ. Geochem. Explor.