Why 3D seismic data are an asset for exploration and mine planning? Velocity tomography of weakness zones in the Kevitsa Ni-Cu-PGE mine, northern Finland

Alireza Malehmir, Ari Tryggvason, Chris Wijns, Emilia Koivisto, Teemu Lindqvist, Pietari Skytta, Markku Montonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Kevitsa is a disseminated Ni-Cu-PGE (platinum group elements) ore body in northern Finland, hosted by an extremely high-velocity (6.5–8.5  km/s) ultramafic intrusion. It is currently being mined at a depth of approximately 100 m with open-pit mining. The estimated mine life is 20 years, with the final pit reaching a depth of 500–600 m. Based on a series of 2D seismic surveys and given the expected mine life, a high-resolution 3D seismic survey was justified and conducted in the winter of 2010. We evaluate earlier 3D reflection data processing results and complement that by the results of 3D first-arrival traveltime tomography. The combined results provide insights on the nature of some of the reflectors within the intrusion. In particular, a major discontinuity, a weakness zone, is delineated in the tomography results on the northern side of the planned pit. Supported by the reflection data, we estimate the discontinuity, likely a thrust sheet, to extend down approximately 600 m and laterally 1000 m. The weakness zone terminates prominent internal reflectivity of the Kevitsa intrusion, and it is associated with the extent of the economic mineralization. Together with other weakness zones, a couple of which are also revealed by the tomography study, the discontinuity forms a major wedge block that influences the mine bench stability on the northern side of the open pit and likely will cause more issues during the extraction of the ore in this part of the mine. We argue that 3D seismic data should routinely be acquired prior to commencement of mining activities to maximize exploration efficiency at depth and also to optimize mining as it continues toward depth. Three-dimensional seismic data over mineral exploration areas are valuable and can be revisited for different purposes but are difficult to impossible to acquire after mining has commenced.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B33-B46
JournalGeophysics
Volume83
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

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