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Gold miner’s dream just out of reach in Indonesia

JAKARTA – It may be a no-go zone for big miners, but deep in the Lorentz National Park, a pristine World Heritage site on the southern flanks of Papua’s Central Highlands lies what geologists call the “Son of Grasberg,” believed to be a major copper and gold deposit lying to the east of the world’s most profitable mine.

“Every single company that has seen the data has said this is the top exploration target in the world,” says a source familiar with the results from the only holes drilled in Mamoa, a balding feature rising out of surrounding jungle. “It’s not a mine yet but it’s a playground for exploration.”

An American geologist agrees. “It has all the signs, including a very good magnetic response,” he says of Mamoa, which lies inside the park boundary about 40 kilometers from the Grasberg, the top-ranked global gold reserve and second-biggest copper mine.

Northwest of Mamoa, along the same geological trend line from the Grasberg, is another prospect called Blue Springs, named after rocks stained bluish by copper oxide, the same tell-tale sign that first drew pioneering Dutch geologist Jean Jacques Dozy to the fabulously rich mineral district in the 1930s.

It is only recently that mining firms have been taking a second look at potential strike zones around the Grasberg, which is now in the process of conversion from an open pit to a fully underground operation with an expected life extending late into the next century.