Relief Canyon Gold Project

Past Producer in Pershing county in Nevada, United States with commodities Gold, Silver, Fluorine-Fluorite, Arsenic, Antimony, Mercury, Thallium

Geologic information

Identification information

Deposit ID 10310376
MRDS ID M242418
Record type Site
Current site name Relief Canyon Gold Project
Alternate or previous names Relief Canyon Gold Mine, Bohannan Fluorite Prospect
Related records 10047165, 10222191

Comments on the site identification

  • The currently described gold exporation project encompasses the existing Relief Canyon Mine deposit ias well as surroundinjg area. All material from the earlier Relief Canyon Mine MRDS record M242418 and the inactive Bohannan Fluorite prospect MRDS record M060411, has been incorporated into the current record as well as additional material on the more recent prospect area.

Geographic coordinates

Geographic coordinates: -118.17014, 40.20518 (WGS84)
Elevation 1650
Relative position The mine area is located about 17 miles northeast of Lovelock, NV.
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Geographic areas

Country State County
United States Nevada Pershing

Public Land Survey System information

Meridian Township Range Section Fraction State
Mount Diablo 027N 033E 12 Nevada
Mount Diablo 027N 034E 05 07 09 16, 17, 19 21 29 Nevada
Mount Diablo 028N 034E 33 Nevada

Comments on the location information

  • The property consists of fee lands and unpatented mining claims at the south end of the West Humboldt Range. The deposit is located south of Couer?s Rochester and Nevada Packard deposits and north of the Antelope Springs mercury deposits


Commodity Importance
Gold Primary
Silver Primary
Fluorine-Fluorite Secondary
Arsenic Tertiary
Antimony Tertiary
Mercury Tertiary
Thallium Tertiary

Comments on the commodity information

  • Ore Materials: native gold, native silver, electrum
  • Gangue Materials: quartz, fluorite, calcite, serpentine, talc, hematite, pyrite

Materials information

Materials Type of material
Gold Ore
Silver Ore
Electrum Ore
Quartz Gangue
Fluorite Gangue
Calcite Gangue
Serpentine Gangue
Talc Gangue
Hematite Gangue
Pyrite Gangue


  • (Local) Two obvious alteration features present at surface include large resistant outcrops of jasperoid and widespread iron oxide staining. In the jasperoid breccia with clay seams, gold mineralization is related to both silicification and argillization. In the mixed breccia and limestone breccia, gold mineralization is associated with argillic alteration. A detailed comparison of alteration with gold grade from drill data indicates that the highest gold values are often associated with argillic alteration rather than silicification. At surface, diorite intrusives are both extensively oxidized and propylitized.

Mineral occurrence model information

Model code 173
USGS model code 26a.1
Deposit model name Sediment-hosted Au
Mark3 model number 17

Host and associated rocks

  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Sedimentary Rock > Clastic Sedimentary Rock > Sedimentary Breccia
    Rock type qualifier shale and limestone
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Late Triassic
    Stratigraphic age (oldest) Middle Triassic
  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Sedimentary Rock > Clastic Sedimentary Rock > Shale
    Rock type qualifier breccia
    Rock unit name Grass Valley Shale
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Late Triassic
  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Sedimentary Rock > Carbonate > Limestone
    Rock type qualifier breccia and fresh
    Rock unit name Natchez Pass Limestone
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Late Triassic
    Stratigraphic age (oldest) Middle Triassic
  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Sedimentary Rock > Carbonate > Limestone
    Rock unit name Cane Spring Limestone
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Late Triassic
  • Host or associated Associated
    Rock type Plutonic Rock > Granitoid > Quartz Monzonite
    Rock type qualifier dikes
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Cretaceous
    Stratigraphic age (oldest) Jurassic
  • Host or associated Associated
    Rock type Plutonic Rock > Mafic Intrusive Rock > Diorite
    Rock type qualifier dikes
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Cretaceous
    Stratigraphic age (oldest) Jurassic

Nearby scientific data

(1) -118.17014, 40.20518

Geologic structures

Type Description Terms
Regional Relief Canyon Thrust. The mine area lies within a northeast-trending structural belt parallel to and 140 km west of the Battle Mountain Trend. The belt is about 65 km long and averages 8.3 km in width.
Local Range front faults terminate ore to the west (Black Ridge Fault). The dip of the brecciated contact (Relief Canyon Thrust? ) between the Natchez Pass and Grass Valley Formations varies and has the appearance of a NE-SW striking anticline that plunges to the SW. A small fold perpendicular to the plane of this anticline forms a dome over the southerly portion of the deposit.

Ore body information

  • General form disseminated, stratabound and strata-conformable mineralization.

Controls for ore emplacement

  • The porosity of the breccia host rock exhibited a large degree of control in localization of ore.

Comments on the geologic information

  • Historic fluorite prospecting focused on minor amounts of disseminated fluorspar in shale and limestone of the Natchez Pass Formation. Gold mineralization at Relief Canyon occurs along the highly brecciated contact between the Natchez Pass Formation and the overlying Grass Valley Formation. The nature of this breccia is equivocal. Early workers concluded that it is a thrust fault breccia, but later workers concluded that it is a solution collapse breccia. Au values typically are highest immediately below the Grass Valley Formation at the contact with the breccia units and decrease toward the base of the breccia units. Several types of gold mineralization have been recognized at Relief Canyon. A large amount of ore is present as a jasperoid breccia. However, significant amounts of ore occur as a mixed breccia composed of Grass Valley and Natchez Pass formations, clay, and jasperoid breccia. Gold also occurs in clay, a condition which plagued Lacana's efforts to heap leach the ore. Below masses of jasperoid, jasperoid stringers containing gold extend into fresh limestone of the Natchez Pass Formation. Irregular zones of mineralization are also present in minable quantities in the Cane Spring Formation. A diorite dike terminates ore to the east. A significant portion of the Relief Canyon deposit was covered by Quaternary alluvium.

Economic information

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Operation type Surface-Underground
Development status Past Producer
Commodity type Both metallic and non-metallic
Deposit size Small
Significant Yes
Discovery year 1979
Discoverer Jim Mckee, Senior Geologist For Duval Corp.
Year of first production 1984
Year of last production 1990
Production years 1984-1985; 1986-1990

Mining district

District name Antelope Springs District

Land status

Ownership category BLM Administrative Area
Area name Winnemucca BLMDistrict

Ownership information

  • Type Owner-Operator
    Owner New Gold, Inc.
    Year 2004
  • Type Owner-Operator
    Owner Newmont
    Year 2004

Comments on the workings information

  • Workings related to historic fluorite prospecting consisted of 105 ft. of underground development, small open cuts, and pits. The modern gold mine consisted of an open pit with 15 ft high benches, leach pads, and a gold recovery plant.

Comments on other economic factors

  • The Relief Canyon deposit was mined by Lacana and Pegasus who produced a total of 430,000 ounces of gold from 10.5 million tons of ore grading 0.037 opt gold between 1985 and 1989. Production in 1984 and from 1987-1990 was 140,766 oz Au and 39,235 oz Ag. 1996 reported reserves were 8.6 Million tons of ore grading 0.022 opt Au. Drill-indicated reserves (2003) were reported as 2.0 million tons at 0.033 opt gold. Newgold currently (2004) estimate a remaining resource of some 11.6 Million tons of ore grading 0.037 opt Au, not including possible resources on adjacent Packard Flat. Production in 1984 and from 1987-9 was 140,766 oz Au; 1989-90: 39,235 oz Ag. Total production from 1985 to 1989 is reported to be 430,000 ounces of gold at an average grade of 1.27 grams per tonne .

Comments on development

  • In 1978, Falconi and Associates located claims on 2000 acres over the long inactive Bohannon fluorite prospect. In 1979, Duval Corp initiated a precious metals exploration program and discovered gold on the Falconi ground. During 1981-1982, Duval got an option from Falconi and staked an additional 2300 acres. Widely spaced drilling indicated low grade gold mineralization. In October, 1982, Lacana optioned the property from Duval and determined potential for an economic heap-leachable gold deposit. In 1983 Lacana proved up the deposit with a 50,000-ft drilling program and completed bulk head leach tests on two 4300-ton samples. Economic feasibility studies were initiated in 1983 and were approved in April 1984, with calculated reserves sufficient for an 8 year mine life at a production rate of 24,500 ounces of gold per year. Construction of the gold recovery plant and leach facilities immediately followed. In Sept 1984,the first 100,000 ton ore heap commenced. A total of about 400,000 tons of ore was processed in 1984. The first bullion was poured in Oct 1984. Lacana suspended operations in late 1985 because of poor gold recovery rates (45%) in leaching run of mine material. Pegasus acquired the property in 1986. After adding crushing and agglomerating facilities, Pegasus put the deposit back into production in November 1986 and realized gold recovery rates on the order of 65%. Pegasus concluded mining operations in August, 1989, although leaching of ore already on the pads continued until August, 1990.Lacana employed 23 persons at Relief Canyon in 1983. Pegasus employed 30 persons at Relief Canyon in 1988; Morrison-Knudsen was the mining contractor, employing an additional 33 persons at Relief Canyon that year. Cash cost of production per ounce of gold was $283 in 1987, $315 in 1989, and $438 in 1990. Strip ratio was 1.53:1 in 1989. In 1989, gold recovery was 62% and silver recovery was 50%. Relief Canyon returned $13.6 million in cash flow on an initial investment of $2.7 million for Pegasus Gold Corp. The property was acquired in 1993 by J. D. Welsh & Associates, Inc. after completing detoxification requirements on the heap-leach pad for Pegasus. The property is on a standby basis and being reclaimed. New Gold currently (2004) holds claims covering the pits and leach pads and has estimated a remaining resource of some 11.6 Mt @ 0.037 opt Au, 35% of which is on Newmont land. Potential exists to increase the resource and discover new disseminated gold and silver resources under alluvial cover in Packard Flat. In 2006, Victoria Resource Corporation (a 31% owned affiliate of Bema Gold Corporation) signed with Newmont Mining Corp. to lease the Relief Canyon Project encompassing 10 full and partial sections of private checkerboard acreage and 155 unpatented claims surrounding the Relief Canyon mine. The area was explored for Carlin Type mineralization exploration from 1984-1992 with drilling limited to the area of the mine and some of the nearby mercury and antimony operations. Reconnaissance mapping by Victoria indicates zones of gold potential where structural systems intersect and suggests both underground and open-pit potential.

Reference information

Bibliographic references

  • Deposit

    Fiannaca, M. and McKee, J., 1983, Geology and Development of the Relief Canyon Gold Deposit, Pershing Co., NV; paper presented at the 89th Annual Northwest Mining Convention, Spokane, WA, 1983

  • Deposit

    Geological Society of Nevada 1984 meeting and field trip road log, Sept. 1984.

  • Deposit

    Division of Mine Inspection, Dec. 1983, Directory of Nevada Mining Operations, active During Calendar Year 1983.

  • Deposit

    NBMG Map 84, 1983, Active Mines and Oil Fields

  • Deposit

    Lacana Gold Inc.'s brochure on Relief Canyon Mine's official opening, Oct, 1984.

  • Deposit

    Wittkop, R. W., Parratt, R. L., Bruce, W. R., 1984, Geology and Mineralization at the Relief Canyon Gold Deposit, Pershing County, Nevada, Preprint No. 84-100, Society of Mining Engineers of AIME, Littleton, Co, 5 pp.

  • Deposit

    Pegasus Gold, 1988, Relief Canyon Mine circular (unpublished visitor's fact sheet).

  • Deposit

    Pegasus Gold, Inc., Annual Reports for 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990.

  • Deposit

    Southern Pacific Co., 1964, Minerals For Industry-Northern Nevada and Northwestern Utah, Summary of Geological Survey of 1955-1961, v. 1: San Francisco, Southern Pacific Co, P. 45.

  • Deposit

    Wallace and Tatlock, 1962, Suggestions for prospecng in the Humboldt Range and adjacent areas, Nevada, USGS PP 450-B3-B5.

  • Deposit

    Wallace,. E., Silberling, N. J., Irwin, W. P., And Tatlock, D. B., 1969, Geologic Map of the Buffalo Mountain Quadrangle, Pershing and Churchill Counties, Nevada, USGS Map GQ-821.

  • Deposit

    Tingley, J. V., Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology, Computerized Geochemistry Database.

  • Deposit

    Johnson, M. G., 1977, Geology and Mineral Deposits of Pershing County, Nevada, NBMG Bull. 89.

  • Deposit

    Horton, R.C., 1961, An Inventory of Fluorspar Occurrences in Nevada, NBMG Rept. 1.

  • Deposit

    Engineering and Mining Journal, June 1988, p. 45-46

  • Deposit

    Bonham, H.F., Jr, and Hess, R. H., 1992, Bulk-Mineable Precious-Metal Deposits, in The Nevada Mineral Industry 1991, Nevada Bureau Of Mines and Geology, Special Pub., MI-1991, p24

  • Deposit

    NBMG, 1994, MI-1993

  • Deposit

    Long, K.R., DeYoung, J.H., Jr., and Ludington, S.D., 1998, Database of significant deposits of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in the United States; Part A, Database description and analysis; part B, Digital database: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 98-206, 33 p., one 3.5 inch diskette.

  • Deposit

    Crafford, A.E.J. (ed.), 2003, GSN Road Log 44, Coal Canyon Road East from I80 Exit 112.

General comments

Subject category Comment text
Deposit Relief Canyon is a classic sediment-hosted gold deposit forming along the brecciated unconformity at the contact between the Triassic Grass Valley Shale and Natchez Pass Limestone at the intersection of the Relief Canyon Thrust and Black Ridge Fault. Shale, siltstone, and quartzite of the Late Triassic Grass Valley Formation have been thrust over dolomitic limestones of the Late Triassic Natchez Pass Formation. Gold mineralization occurs in a jasperoid and solution breccia that occupies the thrust-fault contact. Gold is associated with argillic alteration and silicification, and with anomalous silver, arsenic, antimony, and fluorine Gold occurs as 2-4 micron-sized flakes of native gold and rarely as electrum in the jasperoids, carbon-rich zones, breccia matrix, or with amorphous hematite. Gold mineralization is associated with Carlin-style jasperoids and zones of brecciation in sulfidized limestone.

Reporter information

Type Date Name Affiliation Comment
Reporter 01-NOV-84 La Pointe, D. D. (Tingley, J. V.) Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
Updater 01-DEC-90 Berger, Mary A. U.S. Geological Survey
Updater 01-NOV-92 Phinisey, J. D. (Marcus, S.) U.S. Geological Survey
Updater 01-JUL-93 Marcus, S. U.S. Geological Survey
Updater 01-SEP-94 Li, Zhiping ( Peters, S.; Moyer, L.) U.S. Geological Survey
Updater 01-JUN-04 La Pointe, D. D. Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
Editor 01-SEP-07 Schruben, Paul G. U.S. Geological Survey Converted from S&A FileMaker format to Oracle. Edit checks on rocks, units, and ages with Geolex search, and other fields.