The Darwin project is an epithermal, hot springs gold deposit hosted in altered Pleistocene Lake Lahontan lacustrine sediments.


The project area is located 56 kilometers east of Reno and 11 kilometers east of Fernley at the Darwin rail siding along the southeastern flank of the Hot Springs Mountain, Lyon County, Nevada. It sits along a north-northeast trending belt of geothermal areas and gold deposits that includes Sleeper, Florida Canyon, Relief Canyon and Willard.

Land Status

Newmont controls 19.5 square kilometers of mineral rights through railroad, "checkerboard" private minerals within the area of interest.


The Darwin project was the result of reconnaissance work completed by Santa Fe geologists in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Geologic mapping and surface sampling delineated a large area of surficial, hot springs alteration. The exploration process included air photo analysis, rock chip sampling, soil sampling and drilling that successfully intersected various stages of brecciation and silicification with quartz pyrite veins. Though trace element geochemistry was encouraging, the most significant gold intercept was 200 ppb. Due to the economic and other factors, the project was shelved. Since that time, the area has seen limited work.


Adjacent to currently active hot springs, a significant area of hydrothermally altered and geochemically anomalous limey siltstone and shales of Lahontan-age lake beds are overlain by a thin veneer of pediment gravels. The alteration is poorly exposed in drainages and subcrops in the low hills of relatively flat terrain along the margins of the Carson Sink. The silicified material weathers orange and red, but unoxidized cores reveal gray, chalcedonic silica with finely disseminated sulfides. Breccia textures are common. Silicification is known to occur over an area of approximately 300m by 1675m but may be larger due to the surficial cover. Surface sampling shows moderate concentrations of As (450 ppm) and Sb (55ppm), high concentrations of mercury (76ppm) with a maximum of 60 ppb Au. With the similarities in geologic setting, alteration and trace element geochemistry between the property and adjacent gold deposits to the northeast, there is the possibility for a large, vertically zoned deposit along a feeder structure.


Newmont maintains an extensive database for the Darwin project.