Geology and Economic Significance of the Bernie Lake Pegmatite
A.C.A. Howe President J.C. Rowntree Geologist A. C. A. Howe & Associates Ltd., Toronto, Ont.
The Bernie Lake pegmatite near Lac Du Bonnet in southern Manitoba is a complexly zoned pegmatite containing several lithium-bearing units in addition to the western world's largest known reserve of cesium. The pegmatite forms a flat-lying ellipsoidal body within an east-west-trending Precambrian amphibolite. The pegmatite enclosed by this vertically schistose amphibolite lies near the eastern tip of a granitic intrusive. The relationship of this intrusive to the pegmatite is obscured by Bernie lake. To date, the pegmatite body has been delineated aver an area of approximately 80 acres; it attains a maximum thickness of 280 feet. Several distinct zones, including three assemblages of economic importance, comprise the pegmatite itself. The combined spodumene and lepidolite assemblages provide a recoverable defined lithium ore reserve of almost 5 million tons averaging more than 2 per cent lithium oxide. The recoverable cesium ore of the pollucite assemblage provides 300,000 tons averaging more than 20 per cent cesium oxide; this represents more than half of the western world's pollucite reserve. The Bernie Lake pegmatite deposit, owned by Chemalloy Minerals Limited, is well located with respect to the growing United States markets, and its reserves of cesium are large enough to enable it, under favourable economic circumstances, to become the major producer of this metal in North America.