August 2006

Ottawa Branch members visit Yates Uranium Prospect

New member Annie Lefebvre, the winner of the “door prize,” flanked by the owners of the Matte Zone, Darryl MacFarlane (left), and Fred Sopchyshyn (right). The prize, chosen at random, consisted of two beautiful apatite crystals in the calcite matrix.

On Tuesday, May 9, John Udd, an authority on mining in the Ottawa area, led 20 members of the Ottawa Branch on a day-long field trip to the famous Yates Uranium Prospect near Sandy Creek, on the Picanoc River, Pontiac County, Québec. Eight of the group members had joined the Ottawa Branch in order to participate in this exceptional trip. The diverse activities of the Ottawa Branch are becoming well-known and are stimulating membership growth.

Discovered in 1955, the deposit, in a radioactive pegmatite dyke, has acquired a world-class reputation as a source of exceptional crystals of apatite, fluorapatite, diopside, titanite, scapolite, allanite, and about 50 other minerals in the salmon-pink calcite of the core of the deposit. Samples from the Yates “mine” are in many of the world’s major mineral collections. The deposit was originally staked as a uranium prospect in the 1950s. In 1997, the Matte Zone was again staked as a collecting locality by the partners in Grenville Minerals. In 2005, the adjacent claims were acquired by Aldershot Resources Limited, of Vancouver. The Matte Zone deposit is not generally accessible to collectors and visitors and was “off-limits” for a few years following the death of one of the original partners. Today, it is accessible only to specialized groups of proven reputation and expertise who have obtained the insurance coverage required. These include the Central Canadian Federation of Mineralogical Societies, the Upper Ottawa Valley Geology Club, and, as of now, the CIM Ottawa Branch.

Udd, who organized the trip and is the author of “A Guide to the Mineral Deposits of Southeastern Ontario and Southwestern Québec” is well known to the owners of the deposit. During the day, all of the members of the group obtained beautiful samples of many of the prominent minerals. One stated that “it was the most exceptional introduction to a new technical group” that she had ever encountered. Another field trip will be organized for the fall.

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