- © 2006 Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
The Lilypad Lakes property is host to a group of Ta-mineralized dikes that occur over an area of at least 10 km2. Field relationships are consistent with a syn- to late syn-tectonic timing for their emplacement (with respect to the major regional D1 episode of deformation), with several of the dikes exhibiting a steeply dipping, open, S- to M- to Z-shaped fold geometry. Individual dikes range up to 30 m wide (Rubellite Dyke, Pollucite Dyke), have strike lengths of up to 750 m (e.g., JJ Dyke), and are continuous to depths of greater than 250 m (e.g., Rubellite Dyke, Pollucite Dyke). Typically, they display sharp intrusive contacts characterized by the development of thin, holmquistite-rich haloes. The Ta-mineralized dikes are comprised of silica- and alumina-rich, sodic, granitic pegmatites that display extreme levels of geochemical fractionation (K/Rb typically < 10.0, as low as 2.2; Nb/Ta typically < 0.20, as low as 0.03), and enrichments in an economically important group of lithophile elements, most notably Li, Rb, Cs, and Ta. Geochemical assays of individual surface grab and drill core samples have yielded values as high as 1.51 wt.% Li2O, 1.25 wt.% Rb2O, 6.21 wt.% Cs2O, and 0.108 wt.% Ta2O5. Diamond drilling has established the presence of wide (~20 m), potentially ore-grade intersections of Ta mineralization (>0.045 wt.% Ta2O5) in both the Rubellite and the Pollucite Dykes.
Three Ta-oxide minerals (microlite, wodginite, manganotantalite) of primary origin predominate in the Ta-mineralized dikes, where they occur as fine, disseminated grains in the albite-rich pegmatite matrix. The sequence of crystallization is typically manganotantalite wodginite microlite, which conforms to a well-established paragenetic sequence for rare-element granitic pegmatites in general. All three of the primary Ta oxides are characterized by a high degree of chemical purity (e.g., average Ta concentrations in microlite from 77–79 wt.% Ta2O5), a compositional feature consistent with the extreme levels of geochemical fractionation characteristic of the host granitic pegmatites, and one that indicates that the Lilypad Lakes pegmatites are likely to produce Ta mineral concentrates of the very highest quality.
Locally, a second generation of Ta minerals is present, restricted to small vugs in the pegmatite matrix that are surrounded by fine aggregates of K-rich mica or clay. The secondary Ta minerals are dominated by microlite, which is typically intergrown with fluorite and Fe-sulphides, and is distinguished from its primary counterpart by its lower Ta content (around 70 wt.% Ta2O5) and much higher concentration of uranium (up to 9 wt.% UO2). Also, secondary microlite consistently yields low analytical totals from electron microprobe analysis, suggesting that it is H2O-rich. The presence of this second, vug-related generation of microlite, together with the occurrence of localized networks of crosscutting fractures that host high concentrations of Cs and Rb (in the minerals pollucite and Rb-K-feldspar), suggests that a late-stage, fluid-dominated metasomatic/hydrothermal event may have been important in certain sections of the dikes, and has effected a redistribution of the economically important elements Ta and Cs.