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Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–E, version 1.1

Prepared in cooperation with the Centre for Russian and Central EurAsian Mineral Studies—Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom, and Mining and Economic Consulting, Ltd., Almaty, Kazakhstan

Sandstone Copper Assessment of the Chu-Sarysu Basin, Central Kazakhstan

By Stephen E. Box, Boris Syusyura, Timothy S. Hayes, Cliff D. Taylor, Michael L. Zientek, Murray W. Hitzman, Reimar Seltmann, Vladimir Chechetkin, Alla Dolgopolova, Pamela M. Cossette, and John C. Wallis

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (3.3 MB)Abstract

Mineral resource assessments represent a synthesis of available information to estimate the location, quality, and quantity of undiscovered mineral resources in the upper part of the Earth’s crust. This report presents a probabilistic mineral resource assessment of undiscovered sandstone copper deposits within the late Paleozoic Chu-Sarysu Basin in central Kazakhstan by the U.S. Geological Survey as a contribution to a global assessment of mineral resources. The purposes of this study are to: (1) provide a database of known sandstone copper deposits and significant prospects in this area, (2) delineate permissive areas (tracts) for undiscovered sandstone copper deposits within 2 km of the surface at a scale of 1:1,000,000, (3) estimate numbers of undiscovered deposits within these permissive tracts at several levels of confidence, and (4) provide probabilistic estimates of amounts of copper (Cu), silver (Ag), and mineralized rock that could be contained in undiscovered deposits within each tract. The assessment uses the three-part form of mineral resource assessment based on mineral deposit models (Singer, 1993; Singer and Menzie, 2010).

Delineation of permissive tracts for resources is based on the distribution of a Carboniferous oxidized nonmarine clastic (red bed) stratigraphic sequence that lies between overlying Permian and underlying Devonian evaporite-bearing sequences. Subsurface information on the extent and depth of this red bed sequence and structural features that divide the basin into sub-basins was used to define four permissive tracts. Structure contour maps, mineral occurrence databases, drill hole lithologic logs, geophysical maps, soil geochemical maps, locations of producing gas fields, and evidence for former gas accumulations were considered in conjunction with descriptive deposit models and grade and tonnage models to guide the assessment team’s estimates of undiscovered deposits in each tract.

The four permissive tracts are structural sub-basins of the Chu-Sarysu Basin and range in size from 750 to 65,000 km². Probabilistic estimates of numbers of undiscovered sandstone copper deposits were made for the four tracts by a group of experts. Using these probabilistic estimates, Monte Carlo simulation was used to estimate the amount of metal contained within each tract. The results of the simulation serve as the basis for estimates of the metal endowment.

The team estimates that 26 undiscovered deposits occur within the Chu-Sarysu Basin, and that these deposits contain an arithmetic mean of at least 21.5 million metric tons (Mt) of copper and 21,900 metric tons (t) of silver. The undiscovered deposits are in addition to the 7 known deposits that contain identified resources of 27.6 Mt of copper. Sixty percent of the estimated mean undiscovered copper resources are associated with the two permissive tracts that contain the identified resources; the remaining estimated resources are associated with the two tracts that have no known deposits. For the three tracts that contain 95 percent of the estimated undiscovered copper resources, the probability that each tract contains its estimated mean or more is about 40 percent. For the tract with 5 percent of the estimated undiscovered cop-per resources, the probability that it contains that amount or more is 25 percent.

Last modified November 20, 2012
First posted October 4, 2012

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Contact Information, Mineral Resources Program
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Suggested citation:

Box, S.E., Syusyura, Boris, Hayes, T.S., Taylor, C.D., Zientek, M.L., Hitzman, M.W., Seltmann, Reimer, Chechetkin, Vladimir, Dolgopolova, Alla, Cossette, P.M., and Wallis, J.C., 2012, Sandstone copper assessment of the Chu-Sarysu Basin, Central Kazakhstan: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–E, v. 1.1, 63 p. and spatial data tables, available at




Geologic Overview

Mineral Deposit Model

Assessment Methodology

Assessment Data

Delineation of Permissive Tracts

Selection of Grade and Tonnage Model for Resource Assessment

Results of Probabilistic Assessments of Permissive Tracts

Results of the Monte Carlo Simulation of Contained Metal


References Cited

Appendixes A–G

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