The Pope's Hill rare earth element (REE) trend extends along the Trans-Labrador Highway approximately 100 km west from Goose Bay. The Pope's Hill (PH) rare earth element (REE) occurrence is a syenite-hosted highly enriched unit where whole-rock geochemical analyses indicate REE contents ranging from 1 to 22 weight percent. The high REE values are found in a massive, dark grey to black, sub-metallic to glassy allanite with another reddish brown mineral identified as Ce-titanite. Silver Spruce is seeking partners to advance the exploration potential.
The PH trend extends in a generally E-W to NE-SW direction from the Pope's Hill area, approximately 100 km from Happy Valley/Goose Bay on the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH), along and parallel to the Churchill River. The property now totals 10 claims (250 ha) after regional properties, with limited potential, were dropped and additional claims (52) were allowed to expire to maintain the core areas. The claims cover REE showings, and structural features defined by government mapping. REE mineralization, discovered by SSE, is associated with syenitic intrusive units in the gneisses at the MP trend and with pegmatites to the south of the MP trend on the original PH property. No previous REE or other exploration is documented for the area.
Uranium, thorium and REE mineralization was located in 2006 while prospecting for uranium. The property was not staked until spring 2010, when interest in REE's peaked. A prospecting / sampling program (31 samples) using scintillometers to locate radioactive mineralization in the fall of 2010 gave anomalous total rare earth element plus yttrium (TREE) values with 16 > 5%, and 5 > 10% with a high value of 24.1% (NR Oct. 28, 2010). TREE values varied from a low of 0.07% to a high of 24.07% averaging 5.73%, which included 7 "host rock" samples, with values 0.4% or lower. Samples are rich in light rare earth elements (LREE), but the more anomalous values give higher values in HREE up to 7.5% percent of the REE. Significant values in Nb, Zr, Th and U were also noted. The anomalous trend was traced over a 7 km strike length extending to the east, approximately 4 km, and to the west, approximately 3 km, from the MP showing in the bedrock pit by the TLH. The highest REE values were in a dark grey to black sub-metallic to glassy mineral, in segregations which are variably non-magnetic to moderately magnetic. All of the REE-bearing samples are weakly to moderately radioactive with significant Th content (up to 0.7%) but generally 0.1-0.3 % and minor uranium values (up to 461 ppm but generally < 100 ppm). The rock unit hosting the REE mineralization is a peralkaline, syenitic unit of late Paleoproterozoic age which hosts green pyroxene crystals. Magnetic, VLF-EM and radiometric (spectrometer) surveys were carried out with lithological/alteration trends noted striking in a 070 degree (ENE) direction and magnetics indicating crosscutting, probable fault or shear structures, trending at approximately 150/330 degrees.
A total of 1120 m in 10 holes (PH-11-1-10) tested the MP showing in the bedrock pit and another close by target on the Trans Labrador Highway (TLH) (NR March 3, 2011) in February 2011. The drilling was designed to test TREE mineralized bedrock and float samples from the pit, VLF-EM anomalies thought to represent shear systems, and magnetic anomalies which could reflect the variably magnetic TREE mineralization. The drilling tested an approximate 700 m long zone of the known 7 km mineralized trend, mainly in the MP pit area. All drill holes were at least partially sampled using radioactivity (Th content) as a guide, visual identification of prospective zones and magnetically anomalous areas. Wide zones, up to 140 m of > 0.1 % REE mineralization, were intersected with 4 holes giving widths in the 50 m range. Narrow (0.1-0.3 m) zones of higher grade TREE values in the 1 to 6 % range are also found throughout most of the drill holes. Strong Zr values generally >1,000 ppm (0.1%) were noted over wide intervals associated with the REE mineralization (NR March 29, 2011). The diamond drilling defined an area of anomalous REE mineralization hosted in syenitic units in the granitic gneisses, however the high grade REE segregations noted on surface in the pit were not intersected. Geological mapping indicates that the area is cut by numerous faults making structural control more difficult than expected and possibly disrupting the REE bearing units. High grade REE mineralization was located in exploration in 2011 along trend further to the east, however no drilling has tested these showings.
REE rich rock samples representative of the mineralization were evaluated. Results indicate that the REE from the MP trend of the Pope's Hill prospect are primarily hosted in allanite, titanite, monazite and britholite, with trace amounts hosted in fergusonite, REE-carbonates and apatite. The total average rare earth oxide (REO) composition of the sample was 17.5 wt %, with the percentage contributed by each mineral: allanite - 47.6 %; high-REE titanite - 24.1 %; monazite - 16.7 %; both varieties of britholite (high-REE and low-REE) - 11.1 %; and the rest in fergusonite, REE carbonate and apatite. Disseminated allanite and monazite were also noted in the adjacent host rock units in the thin section analysis.
Prospecting using scintillometers to locate radioactive mineralization on the MP trend traced the REE mineralization in outcrop over an approximate 2.8 km strike length. The zone is laterally continuous, extending eastward from the MP showing in the pit on the TLH and to the north of the pit, through the T1 and T2 showings located 800 and 1,100 m, respectively, to the T5 and T6 showings located 2,000 and 2,200 m respectively, in the vicinity of the brook where a boulder running 24.1% TREE was found in 2010 (NR Oct. 28, 2010). Outcrops with massive segregations are located at the MP showing, and in all the "T" showings with other areas of mineralization noted between the showings but not fully exposed. The mineralized unit, a syenitic unit, conformable with the granitic gneisses, a minimum of 10 m wide, carries green pyroxene crystals, as phenocrysts or porphyroblasts, up to 5 cm long, and is open along strike to both the east and west. The massive, high grade, segregations, up to 30 cm wide, which typically run 10-25% TREE, are characterized by pinch and swell structures with at least two parallel massive segregations, separated by 5-6 m of host rock, noted in the T2, T5 and T6 exposures, with other parallel zones carrying narrow veins and disseminations in the host unit. Other massive segregations are exposed in hand dug pits up to 30 m across strike from the "T" showings. These may be part of the same system indicating the mineralized unit could be much wider than now exposed. The 136 samples taken from the moderately to highly radioactive, massive segregations and adjacent host rock along the MP trend give HREE percentages ranging from 1.1% to 47.6%, averaging 8.4%, including 45 values > 10% HREE (NR Aug. 30/11). Average values for REEs are: 1.00% La, 2.14% Ce, 0.26% Pr, 0.84% Nd, 0.14% Sm, 44 ppm Eu, 0.10% Gd, 149 ppm Tb, 750 ppm (0.075%) Dy, 130 ppm Ho, 314 ppm Er, 37 ppm Tm, 191 ppm Yb, 25 ppm Lu and 0.28% Y. Thirty (30) samples gave P2O5 values > 2% with a high of 11.6% and preliminary mineralogy studies have shown that REE mineralization, with higher HREE content, is present in apatite (calcium phosphate) and apatite content should be reflected by P2O5 values. Thorium values for the radioactive, higher grade, REE samples, are generally in the 0.2% to 0.4% range. In the T1 / T2 area, over an approximate 600 m strike length, 28 outcrop/sub crop grab samples gave an average of 8.6% TREE including 6 host rock samples with values <1% (0.1 to 0.9%) (NR Aug. 30/11). HREE values ranged from 2.7% to 47.6%, averaging 12.7%, with 16 > 10% HREE. The average values for the REE's are: 1.67% La, 3.64% Ce, 0.41% Pr, 1.54% Nd, 0.26% Sm, 62 ppm Eu, 0.2% Gd, 287 ppm Tb, 0.15% Dy, 261 ppm Ho, 633 ppm Er, 74 ppm Tm, 379 ppm Yb, 49 ppm Lu, and 0.57% Y. These are selected grab samples and as such they are not representative of the overall values in the zone.
A trenching program along the MP trend carried out in 2011 to exposed the favorable, REE anomalous, syenitic unit which carries the high grade segregations. A series of 14 trenches from 100 to 500 m apart were dug to give grade / width information on the zone over a 2.5 km long trend. Radioactivity, representing Th bearing minerals associated with the REE mineralization, was used to guide the trenching and sampling. Ten of 14 trenches were washed, mapped and channel sampled with approximately 290 samples taken over widths varying from 10 cm to 2m. Trenches 9, 10, 13 and 14 were not sampled due to low radioactivity and the late seasonal weather conditions. Total Rare Earth Oxide plus yttrium oxide (TREO) results give wide (up to 30 m) low grade zones grading 0.2% to 0.75% TREO, narrower (>3 m) medium grade zones >0.75% TREO and narrow zones (<1 m) of high grade values >3% TREO (NR February 9, 2012). The highest values were found in the T1 to T5 area in trenches 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 11. Some trenches gave anomalous values over the entire exposed zone, including: Tr 7 - 0.71% TREO / 22.6 m; Tr 5 - 0.74% TRE0 / 9.5 m; and Tr 11b - 1.29% TREO / 5.7 m, indicating that the zones could be much wider. The highest individual value was 16.88% TREO / 0.3 m in Tr 11b, located near the 24% TREE boulder found in 2010. Heavy rare earth oxide (HREO) percentages of the TREO range from 3.6 to 20.3 %, generally 5-13 %, with dysprosium oxide being one of the higher HREO, in the syenitic units. Narrow high grade zones, related to the massive segregations, "carry" the mineralized zones in most instances; however, significant background values in the 0.1 to 0.5 % range are noted through the syenite that hosts the mineralization. Values of 0.84 % TREO / 9 m, including 1.24 % / 1.6 m, were found in Trench 15, in the pegmatitic material near the TLH. HREO was 2.8-4.9 % of the TREO. Zirconium (Zr) values in the REE mineralized zones along the MP trend are mainly in the 500-1500 ppm range, with a high value of 2.32 % noted in trench seven. Trench 15, in the pegmatites, has generally much higher Zr values, in the 1000-9000 ppm (0.1-0.9 %) range. Thorium (Th) values are generally 2-500 ppm in the REE mineralized areas, with a high of 0.31 % (3100 ppm) noted in trench 11b. The host syenite units strike at approximately 70 degrees and dip to the south (toward the TLH) at approximately 30-40 degrees, parallel to the gneissosity of the geological units. True width of the zones is estimated at 70-90%, depending upon the steepness of the hill where the mineralization occurs.
Airborne magnetic/radiometric/VLF-EM surveys, stream sediment geochemical sampling and concurrent prospecting were completed over prospective areas to the north and west of the Churchill River over the former 100% owned SSE properties (NR Aug. 30/11). A number of radioactive zones were noted in the scintillometer prospecting surveys and areas of anomalous stream sediments some with contiguous anomalous rock samples were located. No follow up has been carried out.
The Company is actively seeking partners to advance the exploration potential of the Pope's Hill area.
Greg Davison, MSc, PGeo and Silver Spruce Director, is the Company's internal Qualified Person for the Pope's Hill Project and is responsible for approval of the technical content of this press release within the meaning of National Instrument 43-101 Standards of Disclosure for Mineral Projects ("NI 43-101"), under TSX guidelines.
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