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Canadian Cataloguing in Publication DataPell, Jennifer, 1956-        “High-tech” metals in British Columbia       (Informa...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                                         ...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                      TABLE OF CONTENTS  ...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                                         ...
Ministy of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                                          ...
British Columbiaapproximately 380 tonnes of beryllium metal was               grade beryllium ores, containing as much as ...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                          GALLIUM AND GERMANIUM USES     ...
British Columbiagallium. The main deposit types in which gallium is              them have never occurred. Alkaline granit...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                    NIOBIUM AND TANTALUM ...
British Columbia     Tantalum is principally recovered as a coproduct of       French Guiana, Mozambique, Thailand, Austra...
Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources    The rare-earths, or lanthanides, are a series of 15        dispute as ...
British        biawhich grades 7 to 8 per cent total rare-earth oxides,         earth oxides; $800 to 900A per tonne of mo...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                       ZIRCONIUM AND HAFNIUM    Zirconium...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petmleum Resources                                                          POTENTIAL TARGET...
British Columbiason Creek, B.C.; Currie, 1976; Pell, 1987). The                 tains (northeastern Omineca Belt); along t...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum ResourcesD ESCRIPTION                                                          Two...
Btitish Columbia                                                                                                          ...
Ministy of Enem, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                           (Mississippi Vall...
Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources                                              OTHER IMPORTANT             ...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                 MARKETING AND ECONOMICS     Marketing is...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                                         ...
British ColumbiaMonazite: a light rare-earth phosphate mineral, formula              Pyrochlore: a complex, hydrated niobi...
Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources                                                                         ...
High-Tech Metals in British Columbia (Pell, 1990)
High-Tech Metals in British Columbia (Pell, 1990)
High-Tech Metals in British Columbia (Pell, 1990)
High-Tech Metals in British Columbia (Pell, 1990)
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High-Tech Metals in British Columbia (Pell, 1990)

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Created for the British Columbia Geological Survey, the purpose of this Information Circular is to increase the awareness of rare metals and rare earth elements and to provide the background information which will hopefully lead to new discoveries of these resources.

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Transcript of "High-Tech Metals in British Columbia (Pell, 1990)"

  1. 1. Canadian Cataloguing in Publication DataPell, Jennifer, 1956- “High-tech” metals in British Columbia (Information circular, ISSN 0825-5431 ; 1990-19) Issued by Geological Survey Branch, Includes bibliographical references. ISBN O-7718-8968-2 BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA 1. Rare earth metals. 2. Nonferrous metals - BritishColumbia. 3. Geology, Economic - British Columbia. I. Hora,Z.D. II. British Columbia. Geological Survey Branch. III. ‘, September 1990British Columbia. Ministry of Energy, Mines and PetroleumResources. IV. Title. V. Series: Information circular (BritishColumbia. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources) ;1990-19. *TN49O.A2P44 1990 533.4’9 C90-092232-X c00
  2. 2. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources FORWORD Recent technological breakthroughs in the fields of ceramics, medicine, aerospace engineering and electronics,in particular the areas of computers and superconductors, are creating new uses for a variety of rare and minor metals.These include zirconium (Zr), hafnium (Hf), yttrium (Y), rare-earth or lanthanide elements (REE), germanium (Ge),gallium (Ga), niobium (Nb), tantalum (Ta) and beryllium (Be). As a result, there is now considerable interest ineconomic deposits of these metals, however, most geologists and prospectors are unfamiliar with these commoditiesand the geological environments in which they occur. With the exception of a minor amount of byproduct recovery of gallium and germanium from Cominco’s Trailsmelter, none of these metals is currently produced in British Columbia. The purpose of this Information Circular isto increase awareness of these commodities and to provide the background information which will hopefully lead tonew discoveries of these resources. For additional information, phone or write: British Columbia Geological Survey Branch Industrial Minerals Unit Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources Parliament Buildings Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1x4 Tel: (604) 356-2846 Fax: (604) 356-8153 ...Information Ci~ular 1990-19 111
  3. 3. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources TABLE OF CONTENTS Page PageINTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .l Uses .......................11 “High-tech” Elements - What Are They And Occurrence-Geological Setting ......... 11 Where Are They Found? .......... .l Economics .................... 11BERYLLIUM .................... .3 POTENTIAL TARGETS IN Uses ....................... .3 BRITISH COLUMBIA .............. .13 Occurrence-Geological Setting ......... .3 Carbonatite - Syenite Systems .......... 13 Economics .................... .3 Description ................. 13 Distribution ................. 14GALLIUM AND GERMANIUM ......... .5 Volatile-rich Granites .............. 14 Uses ....................... .5 Description ................. 15 Occurrence-Geological Setting ......... .5 Distribution ................. 15 Economics .................... .6 Lead-zinc-copper Deposits ........... 17NIOBIUM AND TANTALUM ........... .7 OTHER IMPORTANT GEOLOGIC Uses ....................... .7 ENVIRONMENTS ...... 19 Occurrence-Geological Setting ......... .7 Peralkaline Granite 1 Sykditk Systems ...... 19 Economics .................... .7 Sediment-hosted Copper Sulphide Breccia Pipes .................... .19RARE EARTHS AND YTTRIUM ......... .9 Uses ....................... .9 MARKETING AND ECONOMICS . . . . . . . .21 Occurrence-Geological Setting ......... .9 Economics .................... .9 GLOSSARY . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23ZIRCONIUM AND HAFNIUM .......... 11 REFERENCES .................. .25Information Cimrlar 1990-l 9 V
  4. 4. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources INTRODUCTION “HIGH-TECH” ELEMENTS -- WHAT ARE INDUSTRIAL SECTOR METALS THEY AND WHERE ARE THEY FOUND? Nuclear Nb, Zr, Hf, Be, REE The “high technology” metals include a number of Aerospace Be rare and minor metals that have highly specialized ap- Specialty Steel Nb, REE plications in a wide range of industries. Although uses of Electronics Ga, Ge, Ta, Be, Y the individual metals are numerous and diverse, in Glass/ceramics Zr, Y, Be, REE general, only very limited quantities are consumed. The Medicine Ge demand for many of the “high-tech” metals is expected to increase significantly in the near future, due in part to It should be mentioned that because of special uses recent technological innovations. and small quantities involved only some of the sources for Metals which are considered to have “high-tech” “high-tech” elements are marketed in mineral con- applications include zirconium (Zr), hafnium (Hf), yt- centrates (zircon, rare-earth minerals, niobium minerals trium (Y), rare-earth or lanthanide elements (REE), and beryl). The rest, if warranted are recovered as by- germanium (Ge), gallium (Ga), niobium (Nb), tantalum products or co-products and marketing is entirely in (Ta) and beryllium (Be). Significant increases in the hands of refiners or processing companies. Therefore the consumption of high-technology metals have been producers of concentrates may receive bonus, if the projected as follows (Bernstein, 1986; Richardson et al., values of “high-tech” elements are high enough to be of 1989): interest.Information Circular 1990-l 9 1
  5. 5. Ministy of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources BERYLLIUMUSES OCCURRENCE-GEOLOGICAL SETTING Beryllium, since the 192Os, has become an important Beryllium occurs as an essential constituent of ap-industrial metal because of its high strength, rigidity, proximately 40 minerals, the most common of which areextremely light weight and thermal conductivity. It is used beryl, bertrandite, phenacite, beryllite and chrysoberyl,predominantly in three forms: alloys, in particular beryl- and as an occasional or minor component in 50 otherlium-copper alloys; as beryllium metal; and as beryllium minerals. The two main geologic environments in which it occurs are volatile-enriched granite systems andoxide or beryllia ceramics. per-alkaline granite-syenite complexes. Beryllium-copper alloys, which contain an average of Beryllium, commonly in the form of beryl, occurs in2.0 per cent beryllium, represent an estimated 65 per cent zones, filled fractures and replacement bodies associatedof beryllium consumption; they are used in industries with heterogeneous granite pegmatites. These peg-such as aerospace, computers, electronics, defense, oil matites, which may also contain lithium minerals, com-and gas exploration and telecommunications. Beryllium- monly are late-stage differentiates of volatile-enriched orcopper alloys are used in miniaturized spring elements “specialty” granites. Beryllium is also concentrated inand chill plates in computers, aneroid barometers, con- quartz-greissen veins and skarns related to volatile-en-nectors and contacts for a wide range of electronic ap- riched granites which often also carry other elements suchplications, as well as for switch-gear, relays and other as tin, tungsten, fluorine, and occasionally molybdenum.electrical equipment. The aerospace industry uses the Topaz rhyolites, which are the extrusive equivalent ofalloys in aircraft frames and bearings, and satellites and volatile-enriched granites may also contain or be as-space vehicles. High-strength, noncorrosive housings for sociated with beryllium mineralization, in some casesunderwater cable stations and telephone repeaters are containing the mineral bertrandite.also made of beryllium-copper alloys, as are dies, molds Peralkaline granite-syenite complexes sometimesfor plastics, high-strength nonsparking tools, tubing used contain significant accumulations of beryllium. Theyin the oil industry to house down-hole instruments, and generally consist of multiphase intrusions, with berylliumdiaphragms for a wide range of measuring instruments. minerals such as phenacite and bertrandite concentrated Approximately 20 per cent of consumption is as in late-stage intrusions and pegmatites. Commonly, otherberyllium metal, which is used primarily in the aerospace ‘high-tech’ elements such as niobium, rare earths, yttriumand defense industries. It is used in heat shields, rocket and zirconium are associated with beryllium in thesemotors, aircraft and space-shuttle brake discs, inertial deposit types.navigational systems and in special mirrors for infrared Beryl is known to occur in pegmatites in a number ofsatellite surveillance systems. Beryllium metal is used in areas of British Columbia including the Horseranchthe defense industry in the fabrication of military target- Range, near Cassiar and the Skookumchuck Creek anding systems and inertial navigational systems in sub- Hellroaring Creek areas in the Kootenays (Mulligan,marines, and also as a shield material around the inner 1968). Beryllium-enriched skarns occur at Ash Mountaincore of some nuclear fission reactors. Beryllium is virtual- and Needlepoint Mountain in the Cassiar district. Alteredly transparent to X-rays and therefore used in the tuffs associated with topaz rhyolites are mined for beryl-manufacture of X-ray windows for research and medical lium at Spor Mountain in Utah; similar occurrences haveequipment. not been documented in British Columbia. There has Beryllium oxide ceramics account for approximately been no documentation of peralkaline granite-syenite15 per cent of consumption. They are used predominantly systems in British Columbia. Significant prospects of thisin electronic applications such as substrata for electronic type occur at Thor Lake, in the Northwest Territoriescircuits, insulators and heat sinks, as well as in the fabrica- (Trueman, 1989) and at Strange Lake and Seal Lake intion of microwave radar devices and lasers. Beryllium Labrador (Miller; 1986,1988).oxide is also used in the manufacture of other berylliacompounds (Kramer 1990, 1987; Petkof, 1985a; Taylor, ECONOMICS1987). In 1989, the USA consumption of beryllium was The principal world producers of beryllium ores are260 tonnes valued at approximately US $125 million. Brazil, China, the U.S.S.R. and the United States. In 1989,Information Cirrcular 1990-l 9
  6. 6. British Columbiaapproximately 380 tonnes of beryllium metal was grade beryllium ores, containing as much as 11 per centproduced worldwide. At that time, beryllium oxide pow- BeO, in the form of mineral beryl, are mined in Brazil.der sold for $61.35US per pound; beryl ores containing 1 The Thor Lake deposit, in the Northwest Territories,per cent Be0 were quoted at $78 to 85US per short ton is a beryllium prospect in which two zones have been(Kramer, 1987). identified, one containing approximately 497 000 tonnes At Spor Mountain, Utah, altered tuffs which are, of ore grading 1.4 per cent Be0 and the other with 1.3overlain by topaz rhyolites, contain approximately 1 to 2 million tonnes of 0.66 per cent BeO; the ore mineral isper cent of the mineral bertrandite, a hydrated beryllium phenacite, a beryllium silicate [Be2Si04].silicate [Be&07(OH)2]. The ores reserves in this The beryl ores are more difficult and expensive todeposit are in the order of 4.85 million tonnes grading process than ores containing bertrandite or phenacite.0.56 to 0.60 per cent BeO, with a cut-off grade of 0.30 per Processing Spor Mountain ore and beryl concentrate arecent (Griffiths, 1985) are currently being mined. High- cost comparable (K. Paulson, 1990; personal informa- tion).4 Geological Survey Branch
  7. 7. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources GALLIUM AND GERMANIUM USES for long-distance telecommunication systems also use a Gallium is used primarily in the manufacture of germanium compound as a major constituent of the semiconductive compounds such as arsenides, aluminum optical core. Other uses of germanium include catalysts arsenides, arsenic phosphides, indium arsenides and for the production of polyester fibres and plastics used in phosphides. The bulk of consumption is in the production the fabrication of food and drink containers, and phos- of opto-electronic devices and integrated circuits. Opto- phors or colour modifiers for fluorescent lighting. Re- electronic devices such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs), search into the use of organo-germanium compounds in photodiodes, laser diodes and solar cells (photovoltaic pharmaceuticals (drugs) has produced favorable results; devices) take advantage of the fact that gallium arsenide certain compounds have been useful in the experimental compounds can convert electrical energy to optical ener- treatment of some cancers, viral infections and auto-im- gy (light) and vice versa (Kramer, 1988). Opto-electronic mune diseases such as arthritis (Bernstein, 1986; devices are used primarily in nonmilitary applications Plunkert, 1985). such as communication systems (fibre optics) and con- OCCURRENCE-GEOLOGICAL SETTING sumer electronic products (radios, televisions, stereo sys- tems, compact-disc players, laser printers, visual displays Gallium is more abundant in the earth’s crust thanin calculators, etc.). Gallium arsenide based integrated antimony, silver, bismuth, molybdenum or tungsten, andcircuits are used as logic and memory elements in com- only slightly less abundant than lead, however, it is rarelyputers and in equipment to process electronic signals concentrated into rich deposits like these elements. It hasproduced by radar, military defense systems and satellite chemical similarities to aluminum and, to a lesser extent,communications systems. In these applications, gallium ferric iron. In different environments it can be lithophile,arsenide is used in place of silicon semiconductor chips or to a lesser extent, chalcophile, siderophile and or-because it has the ability to send information ap- ganophile. Most highly aluminous rocks and minerals,proximately five times faster, can operate at higher and some zinc minerals, contain detectable amounts oftemperatures and withstand more radiation than itssilicon-based counterparts (Kramer, 1988). Gallium canalso be alloyed with vanadium or nickel to produce su-perconductive materials. Other uses are in dental alloysas a substitute for mercury, in indium-tin alloys used forsealing glass windows in vacuum systems and as a con-stituent of cadmium, titanium or magnesium alloys (Pet-kof, 1985b). In the late 1970s it was discovered that germaniummetal, as well as some germanium alloys and glasses, istransparent to infared radiation having wavelengthslonger than 2 micrometres. Since then the principal useof germanium has been in infrared optics. It is used toproduce camera and optical lenses, microscope objec-tives, beam splitters, partial transmitters and windowsthat can transmit and focus infrared radiation onto filmor electronic detectors. The principal applications are:night-viewing scopes on aircraft and other militaryequipment and for guidance systems on missiles andaircraft; night, fog or smoke-viewing equipment used bypolice, fire fighters, and others; satellite-mapping equip-ment; medical diagnostic equipment; 5) heat-lossmonitoring equipment and; heat or radiation detecting . SILVER BUTTE Figure 1. Anomalous gallium and germanium in westerndevices, for example fire alarms. Glass-fibre light guides North America.Information Circular 1990- 19 5
  8. 8. British Columbiagallium. The main deposit types in which gallium is them have never occurred. Alkaline granite-syenite com-concentrated are: bauxite deposits, particularly those plexes have not been found, nor have copper-richformed from nepheline syenites and related alkaline sedimentary breccia pipes, although no reason exists forrocks; low to moderate temperature, sphalerite-rich sul- their absence. Alkaline granite-syenite complexes, suchphide deposits in sedimentary rocks (e.g. ‘Mississippi- as Thor Lake, N.W.T., are known to contain significantValley’ type lead-zinc deposits) or in zinc-rich amounts of gallium; copper-rich breccia pipes are minedvolcanogenic massive sulphide deposits; copper-rich sul- for gallium and germanium at Tsumeb, Namibia and thephide deposits, particularly sedimentary breccia pipes oxidized zone of a similar pipe in Utah (the Apex mine)(solution-collapse breccia), and the oxidized zones of was in production in 1986-87 and again since 1989. Ironthese deposits; and rare metal deposits associated with oxide deposits (magnetite skarns) and coals are wellmetasomatism and late-stage, highly alkaline or known in the province, but, in most cases have not beenperalkaline granite-syenite intrusions. In bauxite evaluated for gallium or germanium, with the exceptiondeposits, gallium substitutes for aluminum; in zinc of coals at Lang Bay, near Powell River, which reportedlydeposits, it substitutes in the sphalerite lattice or may be contain approximately 70 to 140 ppm GeO (White,present in accessory minerals such as germanite, a com- 1986). The best potential for gallium and germanium inplex copper-iron-germanium sulphide. In copper British Columbia lies in sediment-hosted zinc deposits;deposits, it is present in sulphides and sulfosalts, generally the carbonate-hosted deposits in the Robb Lake belt,substituting for iron, and in the oxidized portions of these northeastern British Columbia are known to containdeposits it generally occurs in jarosite-group minerals and anomalous amounts of gallium and germanium and onelimonite. In alkaline-peralkaline deposits it commonly showing, the Cay prospect contains world-class levelssubstitutes for aluminum in albite or, occasionally, in (Leighton et al., 1989).micas (Bernstein, 1986; Petkof, 1985b; Tekverk and Fay,1986). ECONOMICS Germanium is just below silicon in the Periodic Table Gallium is currently recovered during the refining ofand for a long time was believed to have the same bauxite to aluminum, in which it is present in concentra-chemical behaviour. However, while germanium is dis- tions in the 50-ppm range, and during the smelting andpersed in silicates in amounts of a few parts per million, refining of sphalerite concentrates containing 50 to 200it behaves differently in a number of environments. Like ppm gallium. Germanium is principally recovered duringgallium, it can be a lithophile, chalcophile, siderophile or the smelting of zinc concentrates containing between 80an organophile element in different environments. Ger- and 260 ppm germanium. ‘High-grade’ ore from the St.manium has a mean crustal abundance of approximately Salvy zinc mine in France contains 600 to 800 ppm1.5 ppm. It is enriched in a number of geologic environ- germanium. Gallium and germanium are also recoveredments, many of which also contain concentrations of from copper-rich, sediment-hosted breccia pipes. In thisgallium. As with gallium, it is concentrated in sphalerite- type of deposit high-grade zones run 5 to 7 per centrich sulphide deposits, particularly low-temperature sedi- germanium and 0.5 per cent (5000 ppm) gallium, whilement-hosted deposits and copper-rich sulphide deposits, most ore contains 50 to 500 ppm germanium and 10 toparticularly those in sedimentary hostrocks and as- 200 ppm gallium (Bernstein, 1986; Leighton, personalsociated with high arsenic, antimony and tin levels (cop- communication, 1988).per-rich breccia pipes) and the oxidized portions of these The world’s main producers of gallium are Japan,deposits. Germanium may also be concentrated in coal France, Germany, Canada and China and the majorand lignite, and in iron oxide deposits (Bernstein, 1986; producers of germanium are the U.S.A., Belgium, FrancePlunkert, 1985). In zinc-rich sulphide deposits, it is con- and Italy, Germany, the U.S.S.R., eastern Europe andcentrated in sphalerite or, rarely, occurs as germanite China. In these countries, production is from bauxite andinclusions within the sphalerite. In copper-rich sulphide zinc ores mined locally and imported. The world produc-deposits, germanium occurs in its own sulphide minerals tion of gallium is in the order of 40 000 kilograms per yearor in sulfosalts, substituting for arsenic, antimony or tin. and the prod uction of germanium is around 82 000In iron oxide deposits and the oxidized zones of copper kilograms per year. The price for both elements, atdeposits, germanium is concentrated in hematite and 99.9999 per cent purity is in the order of $525US pergoethite; in the oxidized copper deposits it may also occur kilogram for gallium and $l.O6OUS per kilogram forin hydroxide, oxide, sulphate and arsenate minerals. In germanium. The demand for both elements is consideredcoals, it is bound to organic compounds (Bernstein, 1986). by experts to be increasing (Petkof, l985b; Plunkert, 1985; In British Columbia, a number of the potential gal- Tekverk and Fay, 1986; Roskill Information Services,lium and germanium-bearing deposit types are unknown 1986) and some smelters are now willing to pay aand unlikely to occur. There are no bauxite deposits in premi urn for concentrates containing gallium, ger-the province, the geologic processes required to produce manium and indium, if amounts warrant.6 Geological Survey Branch
  9. 9. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources NIOBIUM AND TANTALUM USES abundance of 2.1 ppm. It is generally associated with tin Niobium, which is also referred to as columbium, is in skarns, greissens and pegmatites related to volatile-en:a metal used as an alloying element in the production of riched granite systems. Tantalum is mined from the Tancohigh-temperature specialty steels (high-strength, low- pegmatite, near Winnipeg, Manitoba. It also occurs inalloy, or HSLA steels) and superalloys used in heavy alkaline granite-syenite systems, as at Thor Lake, N.W.T.equipment, ships, structural steels and in nuclear, and Strange Lake, Labrador, and may also be present inaerospace and pipeline applications. The addition of a carbonatites, generally in the mineral pyrochlore. In car-small amount of niobium to steel helps control the grain bonatites and alkaline rocks the niobium/tantalum ratiossize and thereby improves mechanical properties and commonly exceed 100, whereas in granitic rocks theystrength-to-weight ratios. It also improves the heat resis- average 4.8 (Currie, 1976). The exception are car-tance of steel which allows its use in gas and steam bonatites in Blue River area, B.C. where niobium/tan-turbine engines, aircraft and aerospace power systems talum ratio is 4.and heat shields on rocket nozzles. Niobium also has Niobium occurs in all carbonatite complexes in B.C.;important potential as a superconductor of electricity at however, in most it is present in subeconomic concentra-cryogenic temperatures (Griffith, 1970). tions, generally less than 0.3 per cent Nb205. The Aley Tantalum is a relatively rare, heavy, inert metal that carbonatite complex appears to have the greatest poten-is used in electronics, chemical processing equipment, tial of any carbonatites so far discovered in this province.metal-cutting tools and high-temperature steel alloys. Work by Cominco Ltd. since 1982 has defined extensiveTantalum capacitors are used in solid-state circuitry for zones containing between 0.66 and 0.75 per cent Nb205,computer and communications equipment used in space, and localized areas containing in excess of 2 per centdefense and industrial fields. It is also used in electronic Nb2Os (K. Pride, personal communication 1988), gradestubes, battery chargers, transistors and voltage-surge ar- that easily rival the Niobec deposit at St. Honore , Quebec.resters. Because of its resistance to corrosion and good In light of the current soft niobium market, this depositthermal conductivity it is used extensively in chemical and is not currently being developed.metallurgical processing equipment and laboratory ware. Tin-bearing mineralization is associated with special-Tantalum is completely inert to human body fluids and ty granites in northern British Columbia in the Cassiarcan therefore be used in numerous medical applications district and in some areas in the south of the province,such as screws to hold bones together, surgical staples to but little information is available on the tantalum poten-close wounds, replacement joints and bone parts (Griffith tial of these rocks. No tantalum pegmatites are known inand Sheridan, 1970). British Columbia.OCCURRENCE-GEOLOGICAL SETTING ECONOMICS Niobium is the 33rd most abundant element in the The majority of the world’s niobium is producedearth’s crust, which contains 24 ppm on average. The from carbonatites and residual weathered zones overly-principal niobium-bearing mineral is pyrochlore, a ing carbonatite complexes. Approximately 85 per cent ofniobium-titanium-calcium oxide, although other total world production comes from Brazil, whereniobium-bearing species, such as columbite and fersmite, pyrochlore has been concentrated by residual weatheringare also known. It is principally concentrated in car- to grades in the order of 3 per cent Nb205. In Canada,bonatites and related alkaline rocks; the Aley prospect in niobium is being mined by Niobec Inc. at St. Honore, nearnorthern British Columbia is a good example of this type Chicoutimi, Quebec, where grades are 0.5 to 0.67 per centof deposit. To a lesser extent, niobium is also found in Nb205. Minor amounts are recovered as byproducts fromalkaline granite-syenite complexes, such as Thor Lake, placer tin placer mining in Nigeria. In 1988 and 1989N.W.T., associated with other ‘high-tech’ elements, or in niobium concentrate (containing approximately 60 perpegmatites and tin deposits associated with volatile-en- cent Nb205 in pyrochlore or columbite) sold for $2.25 toriched granite systems. 2.65US per pound, which was considerably down from Tantalum is a relatively rare element, the 54th most the mid-1980s price of around $4.00US per pound.abundant in the earths crust, where it has an averageInformation Circular 1990-19 7
  10. 10. British Columbia Tantalum is principally recovered as a coproduct of French Guiana, Mozambique, Thailand, Australia,mining, tin lodes, tin placers and beryllium-tin-niobium Malaysia, South Africa and Canada. In 1989 tantalite soldpegmatites (Griffith and Sheridan, 1970). The principal for about $39US per pound of contained tantalium pen-tantalum-producing countries are Zaire, Nigeria, Brazil, toxide. Pyrochlore crystals from the Blue River carbonatite, British Columbia.8 Geological Survey Br(icuzch
  11. 11. Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources The rare-earths, or lanthanides, are a series of 15 dispute as to the nature of this deposit; it has beenelements, atomic numbers 57 to 71, that have somewhat classified alternatively as a contact metasomatic depositsimilar chemical and physical properties and are there- or as a metamorphosed carbonatite-related deposit. Yt-fore grouped together. Yttrium, atomic number 39, al- trium is also concentrated in uranium paleoplacerthough not strictly a rare-earth element, is commonly deposits and has been recovered from uranium mines ingrouped with them as its chemical properties are similar. Elliot Lake, Ontario . The most important deposit typesThe rare earths are divided into two subgroups, cerium are considered to be those related to carbonatite-alkalineand yttrium, indicated in the accompanying table. complexes and beach placers (Hendrick, 1985; O’- Driscoll, 1988; Shannon, 1983).USES In carbonatites, the rare earths are present mainly in These elements are used principally in petroleum- the form of the cerium subgroup, or light rare earths. Acracking catalysts, iron, steel and other metal alloying considerable amount of rare-earth elements may be con-agents, glass-polishing compounds and glass additives, tained in common minerals such as calcite, dolomite,permanent magnets and phosphors for television and pyrochlore, fluorite, apatite, sphene and zircon. Rarelighting tubes (Hendrick, 1985). Mixtures of rare earths, earth-carbonate and fluorocarbonate minerals such assuch as mischmetal, are commonly used as catalysts and bastnaesite and parisite, or phosphate minerals such asalloying agents. In other applications, pure rare-earth monazite or xenotime may also be present in alkalineoxide compounds are used, as catalysts and alloying suites and host the rare earth elements. The Mountainagents, commonly for example europium oxide to Pass deposit in California, where rare earths areproduce the red phosphor in colour television picture recovered from a bastnaesite-rich carbonatite, is one oftubes and europium, yttrium and strontium oxides in the most important light rare earth producers in thefluorescent lights to emit a white light that has greater world.perceived brightness than conventional fluorescent tubes. In beach placers, rare earths are generally containedRare-earth permanent magnets, particularly samarium- in phosphate minerals such as monazite and xenotime orcobalt and neodymium-iron-boron magnets are used in in silicates such as allanite. Most of these placers alsovarious electric motors, alternators, generators, line contain other economically important heavy mineralsprinters, computer disk-drive actuators, speakers, head- such as magnetite, ilmenite and rutile.phones, microphones and tape drives. The rare earths In British Columbia, rare earths and yttrium arealso have important potential usage in the fabrication of known to occur in association with carbonatites andsuperconductors and applications in advanced ceramics alkaline rocks. Most prospects have not been extensivelyand lasers (Wheat, 1987); erbium and holmium-doped explored; selected samples from one area assayed as highlasers are used in eye operations and neodymium-doped as 14.5 per cent total rare-earth oxides (predominantlyyttrium-aluminum-garnets produce short wavelength cerium and lanthanum) and from another area, sampleslaser beams that are used in cutting and scribing semi- contained up to 1.13 per cent yttrium oxide. The presenceconductors and for drilling and welding. of these, and other, highly anomalous occurrences indi- cates that British Columbia is highly prospective forOCCURRENCE-GEOLOGICAL SETTING economic accumulations of carbonatite-related rare- Rare-earth elements are concentrated in a number earth elements. Veins and skarns are associated withof different geological environments. They commonly specialty granites in northern British Columbia; theseoccur in carbonatite and alkaline rock complexes. They reportedly contain some rare earths, but have not beenare also found in skarns, pegmatites and veins associated examined in any detail for these elements.with volatile-enriched granites; in alkaline granite-syenitecomplexes associated with other ‘high-tech’ elements; in ECONOMICSheavy mineral beach placers; and in sedimentary phos- The U.SA., Australia and China are the majorphorites (particularly yttrium). Rare earths also occur in producers of rare earths (Griffiths, 1984; Hendrick,high-temperature, nontitaniferous magnetite deposits 1985). Most of the economic recovery in the United Statessuch as the Bayan Obo deposit in China. There is some comes from the Mountain Pass carbonatite in California,Information Circular 1990-19 9
  12. 12. British biawhich grades 7 to 8 per cent total rare-earth oxides, earth oxides; $800 to 900A per tonne of monazite con-predominantly of the cerium subgroup and has estimated centrate with a minimum of 55 per cent rare-earth oxides,reserves of 31 million tonnes. Bastnaesite is the principal f.o.b. Australia; and $32 to 33US per kilogram for yttriumore mineral. In Australia, rare earths are recovered from mineral concentrate (xenotime) with 60 per cent yttriummonazite beach placers; in China rare earths occur in oxide, f.o.b. Malaysia. Refined rare-earth oxides, astabular magnetite deposits (Bayan Obo), in fluorite- quoted by Molycorp in January of 1987, vary in price fromquartz-carbonate and tungsten-quartz veins and peg- a low of $4.5OUS per pound for cerium oxide to $75OUSmatites associated with volatile-enriched granites and in per pound for europium oxide and $lOOOUS per poundtin placers (Lee, 1970). India, Malaysia, Brazil and for thulium oxide. Prices for yttrium, gadolinium andThailand also recover significant amounts of monazite samarium oxides are in the range of $50 to 55US perfrom beach placers. pound. These prices, to a certain extent, reflect costs of At Thor Lake, N.W.T., an alkaline granite-syenite producing a rare-earth concentrate and processing thecomplex, an estimated 395 000 tonnes of 0.21 per cent pure compounds and must be considered approximateY2O3 is contained in one prospective ore zone together only. More current information on the prices of refinedwith significant beryllium. rare-earth oxides is not readily available. Currently, the World production of rare-earth minerals (con- greatest demand is for samarium and neodymium to becentrate) is in the order of 80 000 tonnes annually. used in the magnet industry and for yttrium, in phosphors,Concentrate prices are approximately $l.OSUS per pound engineering ceramics and superconductors (Roskill In-of bastnaesite concentrate containing 70 per cent rare- formation Services, 1988). Cerium Subgroup (light) Yttrium Subgroup (heavy) La lanthanum 57 Y yttrium 39 Ce cerium 58 Tb terbium 65 Pr praeseodymium 59 Dy dysprosium 66 Nd neodymium 60 Ho holmium 67 Pm promethium 61 Er erbium 68 Sm samarium 62 Tm thuliu 69 Eu europium 63 Yb ytterbium 70 Gd gadolinium 64 Lu lutetium 7110 Geological Survey Branch
  13. 13. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources ZIRCONIUM AND HAFNIUM Zirconium and hafnium are geochemically as- goes into alloys used in gas turbine engines, gun barrels,sociated in zircon, which is the principal ore mineral of space re-entry vehicles and chemical processing equip-these elements, in a ratio of 50:l. The two elements are ment. One of the fastest growing uses for hafnium is ingenerally not separated, except when used in nuclear hafnium-columbium carbide cutting tools (Adams, 1985).applications. OCCURRENCE-GEOLOGICAL SETTINGUSES Zirconium is strongly concentrated in some alkaline Approximately 95 per cent of all zirconium con- rocks (carbonatites and syenites) and may comprise upsumed is in the form of zircon, zirconium oxide or other to 2 per cent. It is also concentrated in placer deposits, incompounds. The mineral zircon is chiefly used for facings particular beach placers, as zircon is a heavy mineral withon foundry molds, for manufacture of refractory paints specific gravity of 4.6 to 4.7. There are no known zirconused to coat the surfaces of molds and to form refractory deposits in British Columbia, however, a number of thebricks that are used in furnaces and hearths that hold known alkaline rock complexes are enriched in zirconiummolten metal. It is also combined with alumina to make (e.g. Trident Mountain nepheline syenite and the Lonniegrinding wheels used on rough metal surfaces. carbonatite; Pell, 1987) and heavy mineral sands with Zirconia, the oxide form, is used as an opacifier and ilmenite and zircon are present off shore of the Queenpigment in glazes and colours for pottery and other Charlotte Islands and north of Vancouver Island.ceramics. It is also used in the fabrication of sensors forthe control of combustion of fuels in furnaces and internal ECONOMICScombustion engines; these sensors are being installed in The major world producers of zircon are Australia,virtually all furnaces and new automobiles. Zirconium is South Africa, Malaysia, Thailand, Brazil, India, China,used in compound form to manufacture abrasives and in the U.S.A., Sri Lanka and the U.S.S.R. Most zirconsuch diverse products as toothpaste, glass-polishing pow- production is as a coproduct of titanium or rare earthders, leather tanning agents, rust-inhibiting paints, water mining from beach placer deposits (Adams, 1985; Gar-repellents for leather and textiles and, in ink to promote nar, 1903); minor amounts of baddeleyite are recovereddrying (Adams, 1985). as a byproduct of apatite lode mining from a carbonatite Zirconium metal is used as a cladding for nuclear fuel at Palabora, South Africa (Adams, 1985). Zircon con-and as a structural material in nuclear reactors; it is also centrate (containing 65 per cent zirconia) sells forused in camera flashbulbs and as components in heat $468US per short ton, f.o.b. minesite, eastcoast U.S.A. orexchangers, acid concentrators, pipes and tubing used in $570 to 7OOA per tonne, f.o.b. Australia. Premium gradethe chemical industry. Zirconium-columbium alloys are zircon, containing a minimum of 66 per cent Zr02 and aused in superconducting magnets. maximum of 0.05 per cent Fe203, sells for $630 to 86OA Hafnium is consumed primarily in the metallic form; per tonne f.o.b. Australia (Industrial Minerals Magazine,most is used in control rods in nuclear reactors. It also Jan. 1990).Information Circular 1990-19 11
  14. 14. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petmleum Resources POTENTIAL TARGETS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA “High-tech” elements are commonly hosted by, or anomalous in tantalum. In Africa, Brazil and the U.S.S.R.associated with the rock types identical in the accompany- they are also mined for associated copper, phosphateing table. In British Columbia, a number of carbonatite- (apatite), iron and vermiculite. Nepheline syenite is quar-syenite complexes and volatile-rich or “specialty” granites ried in Ontario for use in the glass industry (Currie, 1976).have been discovered and others may be recognized in In the Jordan River area of British Columbia, northwestthe future. These rocks are good exploration targets for of Revelstoke, molybdenum associated with a nephelinea number of the “high-tech” elements and will be syenite gneiss complex was extensively explored in thedescribed in more detail in the following sections. Car- late 1960s (Fyles, 1970).bonate-hosted lead-zinc and volcanogenic massive sul-phide deposits are present in British Columbia; some are D ESCRIPTIONknown to have anomalous concentrations of gallium and Carbonatites are igneous rocks composed of moregermanium and therefore should always be analyzed for than 50 per cent primary carbonate minerals,those two elements. predominantly calcite or dolomite. Common accessory Peralkaline granite-syenite complexes are important minerals include olivine, pyroxene (often sodic), am-in that they may host significant quantities of a number phibole (also, often sodic), phlogopite, apatite, mag-of “high-tech” metals. Copper-rich breccia pipes are im- netite, ilmenite, zircon columbite and pyrochlore. Otherportant potential gallium and germanium hosts. Neither minerals such as feldspars, fluorite and rare-earth car-of these environments have been recognized in British bonates may also be present. Carbonatites occur mostColumbia; however, brief descriptions are included in this commonly as intrusive bodies; they may form as dikes,report as no a priori reason exists for their absence. sills, plugs, veins or segregations in other alkaline rocks.Bauxite deposits do not occur in British Columbia; the Less common are extrusive carbonatite flows, tuffs orconditions for their formation (deep tropical weathering) agglomerates. Metasomatic rocks (fenites), which arenever existed in this part of the world. Other deposit types generally enriched in sodium and ferric iron and depletedmentioned are less important and, while they should not in silica, are often developed marginal to intrusive car-be overlooked by the prospector or geologist, will not be bonatites or carbonatite complexes.dealt with in any detail here. Carbonatites can be associated with nephelinite or nephelinite/nepheline syenite complexes (e.g. the IceCARBONATITE - SYENITE SYSTEMS River complex near Field, B.C.; Currie; 1975,1976), with Carbonatite/syenite complexes are mined for lan- nepheline or sodalite syenites only (e.g. Paradise Lakethanides, yttrium and niobium. They may also contain carbonatite, near Blue River, B.C.; Pell, 1987), or withsignificant concentrations of zirconium and can be weakly alkaline syenites (e.g. Lonnie complex, near Man-ROCK TYPE/DEPOSIT TYPE ASSOCIATED ELEMENTSCarbonatite-syenite complexes Nb, Y, REE, Zr, (Ta)Volatile-rich granite systems Be, Ta, Y, Ree, Nb*Peralkaline granite-syenite systems Be, Nb, Ta, Y, Ree, Zr, GaCarbonate-hosted lead-zinc deposits Ga, GeZinc-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits Ga*Sediment-hosted, copper-rich breccia pipes and oxidized equivalents Ga, Ge*Bauxite deposits GaCoals GeIron oxide deposits GeSedimentary phosphorites Y* Not known to occur in British ColumbiaIInformation Circulari 1990-l 9 13
  15. 15. British Columbiason Creek, B.C.; Currie, 1976; Pell, 1987). The tains (northeastern Omineca Belt); along the easternnephelinites associated with carbonatite complexes con- edge of the Omineca Belt; and within the Omineca Belttain varying amounts of pyroxene (generally sodic or in the vicinity of the Frenchman Cap dome, a core gneisstitanium-bearing) and nepheline. Nepheline and sodalite complex.syenites generally contain potassium feldspar, nepheline Carbonatites and related rocks in the Foreland andand plagioclase feldspar with or without sodalite, with northeastern Omineca belts are generally present inbiotite or pyroxene as the common mafic phase. Weakly large, multiphase intrusive and extrusive complexes withalkaline syenites do not contain feldspathoids. In all cases, extensive metasomatic or contact metamorphic altera-the associated rocks are devoid of quartz as with the tion halos overprinting Middle Cambrian to Middlecarbonatites. Devonian miogeoclinal hostrocks. Carbonatites along the In the field, carbonatites resemble marbles or other eastern margin of the Omineca Belt are found westwardcarbonate rocks, but in British Columbia most can be from the Rocky Mountain Trench for 50 kilometres orrecognized by their unique orangish brown to dark red- more. All the intrusions within this belt are hosted by latedish brown weathering colour, unusual mineral as- Precambrian (Upper Proterozoic) to early Cambriansemblage (apatite, olivine, pyroxene, magnetite, zircon, metasedimentary rocks. They form foliated sill-likeetc.) and anomalous radioactivity (the scintillometer is a bodies and are associated with only minor amounts ofuseful prospecting tool). Other distinctive minerals such fenitization. Along the margins of the Frenchman Capas purple fluorite may also be associated with carbonatite gneiss dome, intrusive and extrusive carbonatites andcomplexes. The most common associated igneous rock syenite gneiss bodies are conformable in a mixed parag-types are quartz-free syenites and nepheline or sodalite neiss succession of probable late Proterozoic tosyenites which are usually white to greyish weathering. Eocambrian age (Pell and Hoy, 1989; Pell, in prepara-When present, nepheline can be identified in hand tion).specimen by its slightly greyish colour and greasy lustre, Alkaline igneous rocks intruding Paleozoic strata inwhile sodalite can be easily recognized by its distinctive the Foreland and northeastern Omineca belts are ofultramarine blue colour. Devono-Mississippian and possibly Silurian ages. Car- The fenites, or metasomatic alteration zones as- bonatites and syenites hosted by Precambrian rocks in thesociated with intrusive carbonatite complexes, vary from eastern Omineca Belt are predominantly Devono-Missis-being almost non-existent to forming halos extending sippian. All have been deformed and metamorphosed toseveral hundreds of metres into the hostrocks. Their some degree; those in the Foreland and northeasternnature is also highly variable, dependant on the original Omineca belts were subjected to sub-greenschist tolithology and the composition of the fluids associated with greenschist facies metamorphism, while those elsewherethe alkaline rocks. In general, calcsilicate and biotite-rich in the Omineca belt attained upper amphibolite facieshostrocks are altered to sodic pyroxene and amphibole- (Pell and Hoy, 1989; Pell, 1987, and in preparation).rich rocks; quartzo-feldspathic protoliths (granites or Carbonatites with the best economic potential forquartz and feldspar-rich sedimentary rocks) are altered “high-tech” elements appear to be those of mid-Paleozoicto rocks of syenitic or monzonitic composition; and car- age hosted by Paleozoic sediments that are found in thebonate hostrocks are altered to iron and magnesium-rich Rocky Mountains and eastern Cassiar Mountains, how-carbonates that may contain fluorite and rare-earth ever, carbonatites found elsewhere should not be over-minerals. looked. Geochemically, carbonatites and related alkalinerocks are undersaturated with respect to silica and maycontain high concentrations of elements such as stron- VOLATILE-RICH GRANITEStium (generally 1000 ppm), barium, niobium and rareearths. Mineralization generally occurs in primary mag- In many parts of the world, “specialty” or volatile-en-matic deposits; commonly, rare metal enriched phases, riched granitoids of ‘topaz rhyolite’ affinity are metal-crystallized directly from the melt, occur as accessory or, logenically linked to deposits of a variety of high-techless commonly, rock forming minerals. metallic and non-metallic minerals such as beryllium, yttrium, rare-earths, niobium and to deposits of tin,D ISTRIBUTION tungsten, molybdenum and possibly gold. Important In British Columbia, carbonatites, syenite gneisses deposit types include: Climax-type molybdenum-and related alkaline rocks are present in a broad zone tungsten porphyries; silver-lead-zinc manto deposits,which follows the Rocky Mountain Trench. They occur in such as Santa Eulalia, Mexico and Midway, Britishthree discrete areas (Figure 2): along the western edge of Columbia; tin skarn deposits; replacement fluoritethe Foreland Belt, east of the Rocky Mountain Trench deposits, for example Las Cuevas, Mexico or berylliumand immediately east of the Trench in the Cassiar Moun- deposits such as Spor Mountain, Utah.14 Geological Survey Branch
  16. 16. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum ResourcesD ESCRIPTION Two-mica granites, or more accurately, quartz mon- Volatile-enriched or “specialty” granites may be of zonites may also be enriched in volatile elements. Thesetwo types. The first are generally not true granites, in the rocks commonly have low colour indexes and containstrictest petrographic sense, but are commonly alaskites plagioclase, potassic feldspar, quartz, muscovite, biotite (alkali feldspar granites). They have a low colour index and accessory tourmaline, fluorite, ilmenite, monaziteand contain few mafic minerals; biotite is the most com- and topaz. Miarolitic cavities containing quartz, feldsparmon and alkaline clinopyroxene (aegirine) or alkaline and tourmaline are commonly developed. As is the caseamphibole (riebekite or arfvedsonite) may also be with the previous example, quartz syenites are commonpresent. Accessory minerals may include titanite plutonic associates. Mineralization related to these(sphene), magnetite, apatite, zircon, allanite, fluorite, granitic rocks may consist of tin, tungsten, copper, beryl-melanite garnet and monazite. Miarolitic cavities lined lium, zinc and, to a lesser extent, molybdenum in skarn,with quartz, feldspar, biotite, fluorite and alkaline am- greissen or vein deposits (Anderson, 1988; Swanson et al.,phiboles are commonly developed. Quartz syenites are 1988).also often present in zoned intrusions with the alaskites. In both cases, the granitic rocks are characterized byAssociated mineralization generally consists of one or high silica contents (SiOa > 70 wt%), K20 > Na20, rela-more of molybdenum, tungsten, tin, fluorine, uranium, tively low TiO2 and high concentrations of associatedthorium, niobium, tantalum, yttrium or rare-earth ele- volatile-enriched elements such as fluorine. In general,ments in vein, greissen, skarn, porphyry or pegmatitic they are peraluminous to peralkaline in composition. Asdeposits (Anderson, 1988). well, 87 86 Sr isotopic ratios are commonly greater than Sr/ 0.708, although the alaskites may have strontium ratios as low as 0.703. In western North America, most volatile-en- LEGEND riched granitoids are late Cretaceous to early Tertiary in age (Anderson, 1988; Barton, 1987). KNOWN SPECIALTY OR n VOLATILE-ENRICHED The volatile-enriched granite environment can be GRANITES most easily recognized by its geochemical signature or by TOPAZ RHYOLITES the recognition of petrologic features such as miaroli EDGE OF THE M I OGEOCL I NE cavities or accessory minerals such as fluorite. Regional geochemical surveys are a good prospecting tool; granitic bodies with associated fluorine, tin, tungsten, uranium and molybdenum anomalies are potential hosts for deposits of “high-tech” metals, particularly rare earths, yttrium, beryllium, niobium and tantalum. As previously mentioned, the deposits can occur in many forms, such as skarns, greissens, veins and pegmatites. In many cases, the mineralization is not obvious; some tin-fluorite skarns known as wrigglites (Kwak, 1987) look more like banded metasediments than conventional skarns. In exploring for these deposits any slightly unusual or altered rock should be carefully examined and, if in doubt, analyzed. D ISTRIBUTION A ‘well-defined belt of topaz rhyolites and specialty granites exists north and south of British Columbia within the Cordillera (Figure 3), with numerous examples in the western United States and Mexico (Barton, 1987; Burt et al., 1981,1982; Christiansen et al., 1986; Ruiz et al., 1985) and in Alaska and the Yukon (Anderson, 1986; Ballan- tyne et al., 1978, 1982, 1983; Mitchell and Garson, 1981; Sinclair, 1986; Taylor, 1979). With the exception of the Surprise Lake batholith near Atlin, and the Parallel Creek batholith between Cassiar and Teslin Lake (Bal- lantyne and Ellwood, 1984), no examples have been Figure 3. Distribution of specialty granites in western documented in British Columbia. However, there are aNorth America. number of indirect indicators - namely fluorine and uranium anomalies in stream waters and silts, in someInformation Circular 1990-19 1 15
  17. 17. Btitish Columbia i ./ 1 “1 . . ,. j / : ( “‘. 0. .7 b- . r..“. . I :1 -0. -7 . I . I I Figure 4. Map of the Canadian Cordillera showing Mesozoic 87Sr/%r initial ratios.16 Geological Survey Bmnch
  18. 18. Ministy of Enem, Mines and Petroleum Resources (Mississippi Valley type) deposits, volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits (Kuroko type, Beshi type, etc.), sedimentary exhalative deposits (Sullivan type), skarns, mantos and veins. Trace metals, in particular gallium and germanium, can be concentrated in these deposits, com- monly within the sphalerite lattice or as discrete mineral grains (e.g. germanite) forming inclusions within sphalerite or along sphalerite grain boundaries, however, concentrations vary greatly from deposit to deposit. Car- - bonate-hosted deposits, as a class, have the best potentia1 for containing anomalous germanium concentrations. a Zinc concentrates from these deposits may contain as f much as 6000 ppm germanium. Individual carbonate- hosted or sedimentary exhalative deposits can be ex- tremely anomalous with respect to gallium (in excess of 600 ppm Ga in sphalerite concentrates), but volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits, on average, have higher gal- lium contents (Leighton et al., 1989). - SLOCAN DISTRICT’ It is beyond the scope of this review to deal in detail with all lead-zinc deposits. Because of the wide range of Figure 5. Location of lead-zinc deposits in B.C. geologic environments in which they form, they are found in a variety of localities and associated with rocks ofcases with coincident tin, tungsten and molybdenum varying ages. Studies to date (Leighton et al., 1989) indi-anomalies, that point to the possible presence of these cate that, in British Columbia, carbonate-hosted depositsmetallogenically important rocks in British Columbia. contain the greatest concentrations of gallium and ger-Isotopic evidence (Armstrong, 1985) indicates that manium. These trace metal enriched deposits, for ex-volatile-enriched granites cot&$ po;$bly exist anywhere ample the Cay prospect in the Robb Lake belt, arein the Cordillera where initial Sr are greater than commonly characterized by the presence of distinctive0.704, that is areas underlain by Precambrian basement reddish orange sphalerite, an abundance of pyrobitumenor tectonically reworked Precambrian basement or and silicifrcation. Any lead-zinc-copper prospect shouldProterozoic continent-derived elastic sedimentary rocks be checked for the presence of trace metals; elevated(Figure 4). concentrations of elements such as gallium and ger- manium could potentially raise a marginal prospect toLEAD-ZINC-COPPER DEPOSITS economic status. Lead-zinc-copper accumulations occur in manygeological environments, forming carbonate-hostedInformation Circular 1990-19 17
  19. 19. Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources OTHER IMPORTANT GEOLOGIC ENVIRONMENTSPERALKALINE GRANITE - SEDIMENT-HOSTED COPPER SULPHIDESYENITE SYSTEMS BRECCIA PIPES A wide range of “high-tech” elements, including Sediment-hosted, copper sulphide breccia pipes andberyllium, yttrium, rare earth elements, niobium, tan- their oxidized equivalents can be the host of anomaloustalum, zirconium and gallium, are associated with concentrations of gallium and germanium, and some-peralkaline granite-syenite systems. Although they have times uranium. They generally consist of solution-col-not been recognized in British Columbia, these deposits lapse (karst) breccias in carbonate rocks that have beenconstitute an important end-member of a spectrum of mineralized by later circulating fluids. In these pipes,deposits related to volatile-enriched granite systems. sedimentary lithologies form angular breccia clasts while Peralkaline granite-syenite systems are generally sulphides and minerals such as quartz, barite and fluoritecharacterized by complex and diverse plutonic suites comprise the matrix (in unoxidized pipes). In some cases(multiphase intrusions) that may consist of peralkaline the breccia clasts may be altered or partly replaced. Ingranites and related pegmatites, peralkaline rhyolitic ex- oxidized pipes, oxides and clay minerals dominate thetrusives, quartz syenites, undersaturated syenites and breccia matrix.gabbros. Mineralization may occur in primary magmatic Copper sulphide breccia pipes are known to occur inconcentrations (pegmatites and other rare metal en- a number of regions in western North America includingriched igneous phases), veins or metasomatic alteration Arizona, Utah and Alaska (Bernstein and Cox, 1986;zones. Documented peralkaline granite-syenite com- Dutrizac et al., 1986; Wenrich and Sutphin, 1988). Theyplexes are postorogenic and generally intrude stable are commonly quite small features, less than 100 metrescratonic environments. Two well-documented Canadian in diameter; however, they may be as much as 800 metresexamples are the Thor Lake deposit in the Northwest across. Similar pipes have not been recognized in BritishTerritories (Trueman et al., 1986) and the Strange Lake Columbia, but could occur. Their small size, combinedprospect in Labrador (Miller, 1986,1988). with thick cover and vegetation could make discovery difficult.Information Circular 191990-19 19
  20. 20. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources MARKETING AND ECONOMICS Marketing is, in general, one of the most important ing demand in known applications and, 3) the possibilityfactors in the development of “high-tech” metal resources. exists for new uses to result from research and develop-As is the case with many industrial mineral commodities, ment efforts. Although it might appear that the negativethe problem of finding a promising prospect is often factors outweigh the positive ones, many experts believesurpassed by the difficulty of finding a market; unlike that there is room in the international marketplace for agold, you cannot take it to the bank. small number of new producers. When considering exploration for “high-tech” metals A number of North American companies (or inter-a number of factors should be kept in mind. On the national companies working in North America) are in-negative side: 1) on the whole, these commodities have volved in the mining, processing or exploration forvery specialized applications and therefore limited “high-tech” metals, as summarized in the table below.markets or markets controlled by a small number of A number of junior companies are also involved incompanies on an international level; 2) almost all applica- exploration for “high-tech” metals in British Columbiations require very small volumes of material (in most and elsewhere, including Formosa Resources Ltd. (ex-cases international consumption of these commodities is ploring for yttrium and rare earths in B.C.), Consolidatedin the order of a few tens of thousands of tonnes annual- Silver Standard Mines Ltd. (exploring carbonatites inly); 3) most of the elements discussed here are present in Ontario) and many others.trace amounts and commonly require expensive process- The potential exists, for commercial deposits of oneing to recover. High unit costs commonly reflect high or more of the “high-tech” metals to be discovered andprocessing costs, not value of the commodity in the developed in British Columbia. It remains now forground. prospectors and geologists to make the discoveries. On a positive note: 1) in many cases, known produc-ing sources are limited; 2) most forecasts are for increas-COMPANY INVOLVEMENT AREA COMMODITYTeck Corporation Mining/exploration/ Que., Nb, Y, REE property ownership B.C.Cominco Ltd. Exploration/property B.C. Nb ownershipCominco Ltd. Recovery/processing B.C. Ga, GeHecla Mining Company Exploration/property N.W.T., Be Y Nb, ownership Nfld. Ree Zr U.SA. Ga, GeMolycorp Inc. Mining/processing U.SA. REE, YRhone-Poulenc S.A. Processing U.S.A., REE Y, Europe Ga, GeBrush-Wellman Inc. Mining/processing U.SA BeAluminum Company of Recovery/processing Europe GaCanada Ltd.Tantalum Mining Corporation Mining Man. Taof Canada LtdHighwood Resources Exploration/property N.W.T Be, Nb, Y,Limited ownership Greenland Ta, Ga, ZrDenison Mines Ltd. Mining/processing Ont. YE.I. DuPont de Mining/processing U.SA. ZrNemours and CompanyInformation Circular 1990-19 21
  21. 21. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources GLOSSARYAlaskite: a plutonic igneous rock consisting predominant- Columbium: original name for the chemical element ly of alkali feldspar (microcline) and quartz; niobium (Nb), atomic number 41. Current usage plagioclase (oligoclase) subordinate; mafic con- favors niobium. stituents few or absent, also referred to as alkali Cryogenic temperatures: very low temperatures, near granite. absolute zero (-273°C).Allanite: a silicate mineral belonging to the epidote Feldspathoid: a rock forming mineral similar to feldspar group, formula: but containing less silica; common examples include (Ca, Ce, La)2(Al, Fe3+ , Fe2+)30 SiO4 Si207 OH. l l l nepheline, sodalite and cancrinite. It is an uncommon accessory mineral in granites and Fersmite: a complex hydrated niobium oxide mineral, nepheline syenites and a more common constituent formula (Ca, Ce, Na)(Nb,Ti, Fe, Al)2(0, OH, F)6; of complex granite pegmatites (Phillips and Griffen, found in rare-earth pegmatites and carbonatites. 1981). Germanite: a complex copper-iron-germanium sulphideBaddeleyite: a zirconium oxide mineral, formula Zr02, mineral, formula CullGe(Cu, Zn, Fe, Ge, W, M O, found in carbonatites and corundum-syenites. As,V)4-&6. Found in copper-rich breccia pipes orBastnaesite: a rare-earth fluorocarbonate mineral, for- associated with sphalerite in low-temperature lead- mula (Ce, La)COsE Found in carbonatites, com- zinc-copper deposits. plex pegmatites and contact metamorphic rocks. Granite: a true granite, in the strictest sense, consists ofBauxite: a rock composed of the weathering products of 10 to 40 per cent quartz and 5 to 15 per cent mafic aluminous rocks, generally hydrous aluminum minerals (commonly biotite or hornblende) with oxides, formed under conditions of deep tropical feldspars constituting the remainder. Alkali weathering; principal aluminum ore. feldspars plagioclase feldspars.Bertrandite: a hydrated beryllium silicate mineral, for- Greissen: a granite altered by magmatic fluids producing mula Be&i207(OH)2. Found in granite pegmatites, a rock consisting of light green (lithium) micas, greissens and hydrothermal veins. Principal beryl- muscovite, quartz, kaolinite, fluorite and topaz. lium mineral mined at Spor Mountain, Utah. Often associated with ores of tin and tungsten.Beryl: a beryllium aluminosilicate mineral, formula Ijolite: a plutonic rock consisting of approximately equal Be@l&O18. Commonly green, white or yellow in amounts of nepheline and pyroxene (Currie, 1976). colour. Gem varieties include emerald and Jarosite: a hydrated sulphate mineral, formula aquamarine. Found mainly in granite pegmatites. me$SO4)2(OH)6. Occurs in oxidized zones of sul-Beryllite: a hydrated beryllium silicate mineral, formula phide ores and is associated with iron oxide minerals Be3SiO4(0H)2* H20. Found mainly in cavities in (Phillips and Griffen, 1981). pegmatites. Lithophile: elements having a strong affinity for oxygenCarbonatite: an alkaline igneous rock composed of more which concentrate in silicate minerals (Whitten and than 50 per cent primary carbonate minerals. Brooks, 1972).Chalcophile: elements having a strong affinity for sulphur Miarolitic cavity: a small vug in a plutonic rock formed and concentrated in sulphide minerals (Whitten and by crystallization of magma trapping a gas bubble; Brooks, 1972). generally lined by late-crystallizing minerals thatChrysoberyl: a beryllium-aluminum oxide, formula often display well-formed crystal shapes. BeAl204. Occurs in complex granite pegmatites, Metasomatic deposit: a deposit formed by metamorphic contact metamorphic deposits in dolomites, fluorite change involving the introduction of material (ele- skarns and highly aluminous metamorphic rocks ments) from an external source. (Phillips and Griffen, 1981). Mischmetal: a mixture of rare-earth elements in metallicColumbite: a niobium oxide mineral, formula (Fe, form, usually containing the same ratio of rare earth Mn)(Nb, Ta)206, found in granites, granite peg- elements as found in the ore (usually 60 to 80 per matites and carbonatites. cent Ce and La).IInformation Circular 1990-l9Information 23
  22. 22. British ColumbiaMonazite: a light rare-earth phosphate mineral, formula Pyrochlore: a complex, hydrated niobium oxide mineral, (Ce, La, Th)P04 found in granites, syenites and formula (Na, Ca, U)2(Nb, Ta, Ti)206(OH, F) found complex granite pegmatites with rare-earth predominantly in carbonatites, alkaline intrusives minerals (Phillips and Griffen, 1981). and complex pegmatites.Nepheline: a f e l d s p a t h o i d m i n e r a l , f o r m u l a Quartz monzonite: a plutonic rock consisting of 0 to 10 Na3KAk$i4016; silica undersaturated, never occurs per cent quartz, 15 to 25 per cent mafic minerals with quartz. Is present in alkaline igneous rocks such (commonly biotite or hornblende) and roughly as syenites, ijolites and nephelinites, all of which are equal proportions of plagioclase and alkali quartz-free. feldspars.Nephelinite: a volcanic rock essentially composed of Quartz syenite: syenite with up to 10 per cent quartz. equal amounts of nepheline and mafic silicate Refractory: resistant to heat. minerals (e.g. pyroxenes; Currie, 1976). The Siderophile: elements with weak affinities for oxygen and nephelinite family of rocks consists of intrusive and sulphur, but soluble in molten iron; they are extrusive varieties containing varying amounts of presumed to be concentrated in the earth’s core and nepheline and pyroxene (generally aegirine, al- are found in metal phases of meteorites (Whitten though titanaugite may be present in some and Brooks, 1972). ultramafic varieties), lacking in feldspar, particular- Skarn: a metasomatically altered rock formed at the ly plagioclase and generally poor in olivine. contact of granitic to granodioritic intrusions by anOrganophile: elements with a strong affinity for carbon interaction of elements from the magmatic fluids and commonly associated with organic material. and the country rocks.Peralkaline: rocks in which A1203/(K20 + Na;zO) < 1. Sodalite: a feldspathoid (silica undersaturated) mineral, The typical mafic minerals are sodic pyroxenes and formula Na@l&O~Cl2. Characterized by distinct sodic amphiboles (Williams, Turner and Gilbert, ultramarine blue colour in hand specimen. Occurs 1982). in undersaturated alkaline igneous rocks such asPeraluminous: rocks in which A1203/(K20 + Na20 + nepheline syenites and phonolites. CaO) > 1. Excess Al203 is accommodated in micas Syenite: a group of plutonic rocks containing alkali and certain minor constituents such as corundum, feldspars (microcline, orthoclase), small amounts of tourmaline and topaz (Williams, Turner and Gil- plagioclase and hornblende and/or biotite, with lit- bert, 1982). tle or no quartz. Silica-saturated varieties containParisite: a fluorocarbonate mineral, formula Ca(Ce, minor quartz, undersaturated varieties contain La)$C03)3F2 found in alkaline pegmatites and feldspathoids. plutons and veins. Xenotime: an yttrium phosphate mineral, formula YPO4Phenacite: a beryllium silicate mineral, formula Be2Si04. found in granites, syenites and granite pegmatites. Found mainly in granite pegmatites, greissens and Zircon: a zirconium silicate mineral, formula (Zr, hydrothermal veins. Principal beryllium mineral in Hf)SiOa commonly found in siliceous and alkaline the Thor Lake, N.W.T., high-tech metal prospect. plutonic igneous rocks (granite, diorite, syenite,Phosphorite: a sedimentary phosphate deposit, generally nepheline syenite) and pegmatites. containing greater than 18 per cent P205.24 Geological Survey Branch
  23. 23. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources REFERENCESAdams, W.T. (1985): Zirconium and Hafnium; in Mineral Ruby Creek Copper Deposit, Alaska; Economic Facts and Problems, 1985 Edition, U.S. Department Geology, Volume 81, pages 1675-1689. of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, Bulletin 675, pages Burt, D.B., Moyer, T.C. and Christiansen, E.H. (1981): 941-956, Garnet- and Topaz-bearing Rhyolites from nearAnderson, R.G. (1988): An Overview of some Mesozoic Burro Creek, Mohave County, Western Arizona and Tertiary Plutonic Suites and their Associated Possible Exploration Significance; Arizona Geologi- Mineralization in the Northern Canadian Cordil- cal Society Digest, Volume 13, pages l-4. lera; in Recent advances in the Geology of Granite- Christiansen, E.H., Sheridan, M.F. and Burt, D.B. (1986): related Mineral Deposits, R.P. Taylor and D.F. The Geology and Geochemistry of Cenozoic Topaz Strong, editors, Canadian Institute of Mining and Rhyolites from the Western United States; Geologi- Metallurgy, Special Volume 39, pages 96-113. cal Society of America, Special Paper 205, 82 pages.Armstrong, R.L. (1985): Mesozoic and Early Cenozoic Currie, K.L. (1975): The Geology and Petrology of the Magmatic Evolution of the Canadian Cordillera; Ice River Alkaline Complex; Geological Survey of manuscript submitted to Rodgers Symposium Canada, Bulletin 245,65 pages. Volume. (1976): The Alkaline Rocks of Canada; Geologi-Ballantyne, S.B., Boyle, D.R., Goodfellow, W.D., Jonas- cal Survey of Canada, Bulletin 239,228 pages. son, I.R. and Smee, B.W. (1978): Some Orientation Dutrizac, J.E., Jambor, J.L. and Chen, T.T. (1986): Host Surveys for Uranium Mineralization in parts of the Minerals for the Gallium-germanium Ores of the Atlin area, British Columbia; in Current Research Apex Mine, Utah; Economic Geology, Volume 81, Part A, Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 78-1A, pages 946-950. pages 467-471. Fyles, J.T. (1970): The Jordan River Area, nearBallantyne, S.B. and Ellwood, D.J. (1984): An Evaluation Revelstoke, British Columbia; B.C. Ministry of Ener- of Reconnaissance and Follow-up Geochemical gy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Bulletin No. 57, Surveys to Delineate Favorable Areas for Tin 72 pages. Mineralization in the Northern Canadian Cordil- Garnar, T.E. Jr. (1983): Zirconium and Hafnium lera; unpublished manuscript for the International Minerals; in Industrial Minerals and Rocks, Volume Symposium on the Geology of Tin Deposits, Nanning 2, S.J. Lefond, Editor, Society of Mining Engineers City, China and American Institute of Mining Metallurgical andBallantyne, S.B. and Littlejohn, A.L. (1982): Uranium Petroleum Engineers, New York, pages 1433-1446. Mineralization and Lithogeochemistry of the Griffith, R.F. (1970): Columbium; in Mineral Facts and Surprise Lake Batholith, Atlin, British Columbia; in Problems, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Uranium in Granites, Y.T. Maurice, editor, Geologi- Mines, Bulletin, pages 275-289. cal Survey of Canada, Paper 81-23, pages 145-155. Griffith, RF. and Sheridan, E.T. (1970): Tantalum; inBallantyne, S.B., Littlejohn, A.L. and Ellwood, D.J. Mineral Facts and Problems, U.S. Department of the (1983): A Tin-tungsten Multi-media Geochemical Interior, Bureau of Mines, Bulletin, pages 385-397. Case History: Surprise Lake Batholith, British Columbia (abstract); Geological Association of Griffiths, J. (1984): Rare-earths - attracting increasing Canada, Program with Abstracts, Vvolume 8. attention; Industn’al Minerals Magazine, No. 199,Barton, M.D. (1987): Lithophile-element Mineralization April 1984, pages 19-39. Associated with Late Cretaceous Two-mica (1985): Beryllium minerals - Demand Strong for Granites in the Great Basin; Geology, Volume 15, Miniaturization; Industrial Minerals Magazine, No. pages 337-340. 216, June 1985, pages 41-51.Bernstein, L.R. (1986): Gallium and Germanium Ex- Hendrick, J.B. (1985): Rare earth elements and Yttrium; ploration Opportunities; unpublished report. in Mineral Facts and Problems, 1985 Edition, U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Mines, BulletinBernstein, L.R. and Cox, D.P (1986): Geology and Sul- phide Mineralogy of the Number One Orebody, 675, pages 1-18.Information Circular 1990-l9

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