Three types of copper deposits-porphyry, strata-bound, and massive sulfide-are described, and the distributions of tonnages and grades for 267 deposits are compared with normal and lognormal frequency distributions. The relationships between grades and tonnages are analyzed by examining the correlation coefficients of these variables. Conclusions reached include the following: (1) Geologic factors influencing tonnage of a particular deposit type are probably distinct from those influencing grade; (2) frequency distributions of tonnages and grades approximate lognormality, making it possible to predict probability of various tonnage-grade classes and to test correlation between variables; (3) no significant correlation was found between tonnage and grade for porphyry or strata-bound deposits; ( 4) significant negative correlation between tonnage and grade was found for the massive sulfide subset, probably reflecting a mixture of high-grade low-tonnage massive ores, low-grade high-tonnage stockwork, and disseminated ores characteristic of some massive sulfide deposits; (5) significant negative correlation was found between tonnage and grade for the mixture of deposit types in the whole sample.
Extrapolation on the basis of the negative grade-tonnage correlation shown for the mixed population seems to imply the occurrence of large-tonnage very low grade deposits, which could be important in supplying future copper needs. This extrapolation is misleading, however, for both statistical and geological reasons. Furthermore, large-tonnage very low grade deposits in the porphyry class of the population are found to be very rare occurrences.
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USGS Numbered Series
Grade and Tonnage Relationships Among Copper Deposits