Metal deposits spatially associated with the Cretaceous Boulder and Idaho batholiths of southwestern Montana and southern and central Idaho have been exploited since the early 1860s. Au was first discovered in placer deposits; exploitation of vein deposits in bedrock soon followed. In 1865, high-grade Ag vein deposits were discovered and remained economically important until the 1890s. Early high-grade deposits of Au, Ag and Pb were found in the weathered portions of the veins systems. As mining progressed to deeper levels, Ag and Pb grades diminished. Exploration for and development of these vein deposits in this area have continued until the present. A majority of these base- and precious-metal vein deposits are classified as polymetallic veins (PMV) and polymetallic carbonate-replacement (PMR) deposits in this compilation. Porphyry Cu and Mo, epithermal (Au, Ag, Hg and Sb), base- and precious-metal and W skarn, W vein, and U and Th vein deposits are also common in this area. The world-class Butte Cu porphyry and the Butte high-sulfidation Cu vein deposits are in this study area. PMV and PMR deposits are the most numerous in the region and constitute about 85% of the deposit records compiled. Several types of syngenetic/diagenetic sulfide mineral deposits in rocks of the Belt Supergroup or their equivalents are common in the region and they have been the source of a substantial metal production over the last century. These syngenetic deposits and their metamorphosed/structurally remobilized equivalents were not included in this database; therefore, deposits in the Idaho portion of the Coeur d'Alene district and the Idaho Cobalt belt, for example, have not been included because many of them are believed to be of this type.
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USGS Numbered Series
Mineral Deposit Data for Epigenetic Base- and Precious-metal and Uranium-thorium Deposits in South-central and Southwestern Montana and Southern and Central Idaho