Surprise - Geology

New rare-earth (REE) bearing mineral occurrences as well as Surprise-type REE-Niobium-Tantalum mineralization have been found to extend over a 1 kilometre strike length in numerous outcrops between the Surprise and Surprise Nord showings. In addition, a new showing was defined 1.5 kilometres to the west of Surprise and named the Certitude REE-Y-Nb-Ta showing. An average of 3.2% TREO @ 27% HREO+Y2O3 is shown for the 2011 Surprise area samples (16 samples) and 5.1% TREO @ 36% HREO+Y2O3 for the new Certitude showing (13 samples) (in samples with > 0.5% TREO). Up to 3.6% Nb2O5 and 360 ppm Ta2O5 is found in some of the samples (see Figure 1 and Table 1 for details).


The grab samples were collected during Matamec's 2011 exploration campaigns on its Zeus HREE-Y-Zr property, located in southern Temiscaming, Quebec. The program was aimed at expanding the Kipawa deposit (which remains open laterally and at depth), better define existing showings (Surprise, Falaises and PB/PS) and explore soil anomalies defined in the 2010 regional soil survey around Surprise.

Anthony Mariano, world-renowned rare-earth specialist, has identified significant quantities of both fergusonite (a rare-earth, niobium and tantalum oxide: Y(Nb,Ta)O4) and xenotime (a rare earth phosphate: YbPO4) at the Surprise showing located on Matamec's fully owned HREE-Y-Zr Zeus property (Figure 1). This is particularly significant as xenotime is one of the few rare earth minerals for which a commercial chemical extraction process has been fully developed.
Dr. Mariano states in his report that the Surprise area "contains outcrops of metamorphic rocks with impressive accumulations of HREE mineralization in the form of fergusonite, euxenite and allanite in quartz biotite gneisses and recrystallites" (Figure 2) as well as "massive allanite rocks containing xenotime as high as 10 wt.%" (Figure 3). Both mineralizations are fairly coarse-grained and well crystallized, with an average size of 1 to 3 millimetres, some fergusonite grains are as high as half a centimetre in dimension. Dr. Mariano notes that such mineralization should be readily amenable to physical processing and that while some yttrium can be found in allanite, the vast majority of rare earths at Surprise is carried by fergusonite, xenotime and the accessory euxenite. He concludes by stating that "this occurrence is very impressive in mineralogy and chemistry and merits a detailed exploration program to establish the presence of economic grade and tonnage".

Fig. 2 T-780B1 in natural lightThese slabs are rich in fergusonite and allanite (black). In addition, there is another Y, Nb, Ti oxide adjacent to fergusonite and rimming fergusonite. Its identification is still under investigation, but the EDS plots favor the mineral euxenite (Y) – (Y,Ca,Ce,U,Th) (Nb,Ta,Ti)2O6. Slab dimensions = 4.5 X 2.5 cm.

Fig. 3 T-780D in cathodoluminescence All of the light greenish-blue luminescing grains are xenotime. The orange grains are calcite, and the yellow grains are apatite. The rocks also contain allanite and cheralite (Ca-monazite). Slab dimensions = 4.5 X 2.5 cm.