Location, Access and Ownership
The Lilypad Lakes project consists of 14 claims, totalling 3,107.99 ha, covering a field of tantalum and cesium rich pegmatites, and located 150 km northeast of Pickle Lake, Ontario near the aboriginal community of Fort Hope (Eabametoong First Nation). The claims were staked by the Company between January, 1999 and October, 2000 and are 100% owned by the Company with no underlying royalties.
The property is presently only readily accessible by air. A camp was established on Lilypad Lakes for the field programs and was serviced by float-equipped aircraft from Pickle Lake. In the winter, the property is accessible from Fort Hope by snowmobile and this community is accessible for a brief period in the winter by an ice road from Pickle Lake. Longer term, there have been proposals to build an all-weather road from Armstrong to Fort Hope to facilitate access for logging companies as well as access to the community. This road could potentially pass quite close to the Lilypad Lakes claims.
The Lilypad Lakes property is situated in the eastern part of the Uchi subprovince of the Superior Province of the Precambrian Canadian Shield. The boundary with the English River subprovince occurs several miles to the south. The dominant feature of the region is a sequence of felsic to mafic metavolcanics up to 3 km thick intercalated with assorted and derived peraluminous metasediments and iron formation. This complex sequence has been tightly folded into a 13 km wide east-west trending belt bounded by migmatized metasediments granite and paragneiss to the south, referred to as the Kawitos Batholith and by the granitic Cluff Lake Stock to the north. The peraluminous Kawitos Batholith is a possible progenitor to the rare metals pegmatite dykes and sills that intrude all lithologies on the Lilypad Lakes property.
The rare metal pegmatites cover a minimum area of 10 km2 across the property. Individual dykes range from several centimetres to tens of m wide, and have been traced for up to 750 m along strike. Most pegmatites trend in a westerly direction of 240° to 270°. A second, north-south trend is exhibited by the Rubellite and South Dykes, in addition to erratic orientations at the F and North anomalies. Diamond drilling indicates that the dykes are continuous to depth, with little change in morphology or mineralogy. All pegmatites exhibit high degrees of fractionation and are enriched in tantalum, cesium, rubidium, and lithium.
Pleistocene glacial drift covers much of the periphery of the property, including areas adjacent to known rare metal pegmatites.
The Lilypad Lakes area was previously explored for lithium in the 1950´s by Standard Lithium Corporation ("Standard") and for tantalum in 1979-81 by Tantalum Mining Corporation of Canada ("Tanco"). Only partial records of the work performed by these two companies are available in the government assessment files. Standard drilled at least 12 holes totalling 968 m in two targets, but did not assay for tantalum or cesium. Tanco carried out detailed geological mapping and lithogeochemical sampling identifying ten tantalum targets. These were tested with at least 43 shallow holes totalling over 4,000 m, of which 21 holes were drilled on just two of the targets. Assay data is only available from two holes that tested a target called the South Dyke and intersected significant tantalum values of 0.058% tantalum ("Ta2O5 ") across 9.8 m and 0.038% Ta2O5 across 11.0 m, respectively. Tanco did not assay for cesium, rubidium, or lithium.
An initial reconnaissance mapping and sampling program carried out by Avalon in 1999 confirmed the presence of economically-significant tantalum mineralization at several locations on the property and resulted in the discovery of high-grade cesium mineralization in association with the tantalum. Select grab samples from this program produced tantalum values of up to 0.113% Ta2O5 and one 12 m wide dyke (now called the Pollucite Dyke) averaged 0.04% Ta2O5 across its full width, accompanied by 2.45% cesium oxide ("Cs2O") . Two major follow-up work programs were carried out on the property by the Company in 2000: a $350,000 mapping and diamond drilling program during the first half of the year, and a second $580,000 program funded by Global Canada under a joint venture that was terminated following the 2001 program from August 1 to December 31, 2000. These programs confirmed the potential for economic tantalum (and cesium) deposits on the property with the identification of 14 occurrences of economic-grade tantalum mineralization (>0.02% Ta2O5) on the property, hosted by a field of highly-evolved rare metal pegmatites extending over an area of at least 18 square km. Four of these occurrences were drilled in 2000 in two small programs totalling 1995 m in 17 holes. In 2001, the Company completed an $850,000 work program on the property, also funded by Global Canada, which involved detailed geological mapping, prospecting, channel sampling of all known pegmatite occurrences, magnetic and gravity geophysical surveys, preliminary metallurgical testwork for tantalum as well as a further 2,786 m of diamond drilling in 15 holes.
The 2001 drilling program was primarily designed to begin delineating the dimensions of the Rubellite Dyke and Pollucite Dyke tantalum-cesium zones, while also testing several geochemical and geophysical targets for new rare metal pegmatites. The most significant results to date have been obtained from the Rubellite Dyke, which has now been traced over a minimum strikelength of 100 m and to a vertical depth of 250 m where it shows evidence of increasing thicknesses exceeding 40 m and remains open to depth. The dyke is mineralized with tantalum from wall to wall with average grades ranging from 0.02 5% to 0.048% Ta2O5 (0.5 to 1.0 lb/tonne tantalum oxide). In addition, detailed mapping in the area resulted in the identification of two new parallel tantalum rich pegmatites within 100 m of the Rubellite Dyke, which provide potential for additional near-surface resources in this area. Grab samples from these pegmatites returned assays ranging from 0.04% to 0.11% Ta2O5 and channel sampling of the Rubellite Dyke itself revealed new zones of cesium enrichment averaging up to 1.812% Cs2O (cesium oxide) over 4.0 m and 1.385% Cs2O over 9.5 m along with tantalum grades of 0.061% Ta2O5 and 0.048% Ta2O5 respectively.
Other significant new exploration results were generated from the South Dyke and Pollucite Dyke areas. At the South Dyke, a new exposure of high-grade tantalum mineralization was discovered from which a channel sample assayed 0.108% Ta2O5 across a 4.0 m width. The South Dyke is now recognized as one of a series of narrow, highly-fractionated pegmatites within a 5 km long east-west corridor on the southern part of the property, all characterized by relatively high tantalum grades (>0.10% Ta2O5) and high quality mineralization (100% microlite, averaging 79% Ta2O5). Drilling of the Pollucite Dyke extended this tantalum-cesium zone to depths of over 250 m, and surface mapping traced its western extension for over 200 m along strike, where it remains open. A channel sample in the westernmost exposure assayed 0.07% Ta2O5 across a 1.0 m width, and grab samples from nearby exposures assayed up to 0.087% Ta2O5 and 4.62% Cs2O. New mineralized pegmatites were also discovered at several other localities on the Lilypad Lakes property, and the potential for discovery of a very large parental pegmatite in the subsurface remains high.
During the mapping program, a 235 kg "mini-bulk" sample was collected from the Rubellite Dyke for preliminary metallurgical testwork at Lakefield Research Ltd. ("Lakefield"). The head grade of this sample was determined by Lakefield to be 0.053% Ta2O5. Results from the testwork are very encouraging as it was determined that a direct gravity concentration method would recover 60-65% of the tantalum in the ore into a concentrate grading over 30% Ta2O5, and that recoveries can be improved to over 80% by performing a flotation process on the tailings from the gravity circuit. Further testwork to optimize the process is recommended by Lakefield. The Rubellite Dyke area is the top priority target for further exploration work on the Lilypad Lakes property.
A $1.1 million follow-up program was recommended under the Global Canada Joint Venture that was not implemented due to Global Canada´s decision to withdraw from further participation in the project following the 2001 program. The project has been inactive since 2001 awaiting a recovery in tantalum prices or new demand for cesium minerals before considering further expenditures. There are sufficient assessment credits banked for this property to hold all the claims until 2010.