Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–U

Prepared in cooperation with the Polish Geological Institute–National Research Institute

Assessment of Undiscovered Copper Resources Associated with the Permian Kupferschiefer, Southern Permian Basin, Europe

By Michael L. Zientek, Sławomir Oszczepalski, Heather L. Parks, James D. Bliss, Gregor Borg, Stephen E. Box, Paul D. Denning, Timothy S. Hayes, Volker Spieth, and Cliff D. Taylor

Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (8.8 MB) Abstract

This study synthesizes available information and estimates the location and quantity of undiscovered copper associated with a late Permian bituminous shale, the Kupferschiefer, of the Southern Permian Basin in Europe. The purpose of this study is to (1) delineate permissive areas (tracts) where undiscovered reduced-facies sediment-hosted stratabound copper deposits could occur within 2.5 kilometers of the surface, (2) provide a database of known reduced-facies-type sediment-hosted stratabound copper deposits and significant prospects, and (3) provide probabilistic estimates of amounts of undiscovered copper that could be present within each tract. This assessment is a contribution to a global assessment conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Permissive tracts are delineated by mapping the extent of the Kupferschiefer that overlies reservoir-facies red beds of the lower Permian Rotliegend Group. More than 78 million metric tons (Mt) of copper have been produced or delineated as resources in the assessed tracts, with more than 90 percent of the known mineral endowment located in Poland. Mines in Poland are developing the deposit at depths ranging from about 500 to 1,400 meters.

Two approaches are used to estimate in-situ amounts of undiscovered copper. The three-part form of assessment was applied to the entire study area. In this approach, numbers of undiscovered deposits are estimated and combined with tonnage-grade models to probabilistically forecast the amount of undiscovered copper. For Poland, drill-hole data were available, and Gaussian geostatistical simulation techniques were used to probabilistically estimate the amount of undiscovered copper. The assessment was done in September 2010 using a three-part form of mineral resource assessment and in January 2012 using Gaussian geostatistical simulation.

Using the three-part form of assessment, a mean of 126 Mt of undiscovered copper is predicted in 4 assessed permissive tracts. Seventy-five percent of the mean amount of undiscovered copper (96 Mt) is associated with a tract in southwest Poland. For this same permissive tract in Poland, Gaussian geostatistical simulation techniques indicate a mean of 62 Mt of copper based on copper surface-density data from drill holes.

First posted January 16, 2015

  • Figure 7 PDF (593 kB)
    Map of the Southern Permian Basin, northern Europe, showing sulfide and oxide mineral zones developed in rocks near the base of the Zechstein Group.
  • Figure 12 PDF (448 kB)
    Map showing final permissive tracts delineated for reduced-facies sediment-hosted stratabound copper deposits in the Southern Permian Basin, northern Europe. Inset shows the location of the former East Germany and West Germany, as well as the province of Silesia.

Back to Global Mineral Resource Assessment

This report is only available on-line

For additional information, contact:
Contact Information, Mineral Resources Program 
U.S. Geological Survey 
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive 
913 National Center 
Reston, VA 20192

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). For best results viewing and printing PDF documents, it is recommended that you download the documents to your computer and open them with Adobe Reader. PDF documents opened from your browser may not display or print as intended. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Zientek, M.L., Oszczepalski, Sławomir, Parks, H.L., Bliss, J.D., Borg, Gregor, Box, S.E., Denning, P.D., Hayes, T.S., Spieth, Volker, and Taylor, C.D., 2015, Assessment of undiscovered copper resources associated with the Permian Kupferschiefer, Southern Permian Basin, Europe: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2010–5090–U, 94 p. and spatial data,

ISSN 2328-0328 (online)




Regional Setting and Context


Mineral Resource Nomenclature

Assessment Methodology Concepts

Mineral Resource Assessment—Delineating Permissive Tracts

Mineral Resource Assessment—Exploration History and Known Deposits

Mineral Resource Assessment—Probable Amounts of Undiscovered Copper


Considerations for Users of this Assessment



Appendixes (2)

Figures (44)

Tables (24)

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: GS Pubs Web Contact
Page Last Modified: Friday, 16-Jan-2015 17:06:24 EST