The Jian Cha Ling gold deposit is sited in folded and faulted Palaeoproterozoic rocks of the uplifted Mian-Lue-Yang block, adjacent to the Mianlue suture zone within the West Qinling mineral province, along the northern margin of the South China craton. Early Mesozoic gold mineralization at Jian Cha Ling, which has a pre-mined resource of about 536,000 oz Au, is controlled by the so-called F 1 45 fault. The fault is a generally steeply N-dipping, WNW-trending deformation zone that is the result of dislocation along bedding planes, early foliation and axial planar surfaces of regional folds. The fault zone marks the contact between serpentinized, lower greenschist-facies dunites, harzburgites and minor gabbroic units in the footwall, and a metasedimentary sequence in the hanging wall that is dominated by metadolomite, metalimestone and phyllitic schists. Brittle–ductile deformation, partitioning of strain along pre-existing zones of weakness, and the formation of intrashear zone lozenges contributed to the development of a complex fault zone geometry. Variations in both dip and strike of discrete dislocation surfaces related to oblique, sinistral–reverse movement along the F 1 45 fault zone focussed auriferous hydrothermal fluids along three dominant structural orientations. Gold was preferentially deposited along shallowly NNE-dipping and shallowly to moderately NNW-dipping fault segments, and is also associated with shallowly WSW-dipping, dolomite-dominated vein sets. Disseminated, economic gold grades (>4 g/t Au) are restricted to the footwall ultramafic rocks to within about 5 to 10 m of the contact with the hanging wall. Gold is related to laminated, realgar- and orpiment- bearing sheeted veins and hydrothermal breccias, as well as slickolites and fault gouge. Gold-bearing vein sets are located within the relatively undeformed, ultramafic intrashear zone lozenges. Gold-related alteration is dominated by extremely fine-grained, arsenic-bearing sulphide minerals and dolomite, with additional white mica and clay minerals. The structural setting of the deposit, combined with published data on the geological evolution of the West Qinling mineral province, suggest that the Jian Cha Ling gold deposit developed in an uplifted basement block during the final phases of northward subduction and suturing of the South China craton with the South Qinling orogen along the Mianlue Suture Zone, during the changeover from a compressional to transpressional tectonic regime in Late Triassic to Middle Jurassic times.