Flat River-Howards Pass
The geology of the Flat River - Howards Pass area in the Selwyn Mountains (western NWT) is poorly understood, even though it's rich in minerals and contains the Cantung tungsten mine and the world-class Howards Pass zinc-lead district. A number of research projects lead by NTGS staff and graduate students are examining questions about the structure and stratigraphy of the rocks to determine controls on where the rocks are mineralized.
The area of interest lies against the western border of the NWT, in the Selwyn Mountains, from the Howard’s Pass district in the north (at about 62.5°N) to the Flat River - Cantung district in the south (at about 61.8°N), encompassing parts of the Flat River and Little Nahanni River valleys.
Although only lightly explored, the area is known to host significant reserves of mineral commodities. The Cantung mine produces tungsten and copper with minor amounts of bismuth. The Howard’s Pass district in the north contains at least 15 deposits of zinc-lead, some of which are being assessed for development. Other commodities of economic interest that have been discovered in the area include: zinc, lead, copper, silver, tungsten, gold, vanadium, rare earths, barite, and gems. The layered sedimentary rocks that host the major deposits have been folded and cut by faults, some of which are thought to have been involved in the mineralization processes. A better understanding of the geology will allow the exploration industry to focus its efforts better.
A number of projects led by NTGS staff and graduate students under the supervision of professors are tackling discrete questions about the structure, mineralization, and stratigraphy of the district. Students are studying controls on placement of high-grade ore at Cantung, geological deformation as it relates to mineralization in the Cantung area, regional structures that are potentially related to ore-bearing fluids throughout the district, and the chemistry of stream sediments. Upcoming projects may include a study of the biostratigraphy of the host rocks of the Howards Pass deposits.
Partners and Support
NTGS Participants: Hendrik Falck, Edith Martel, Beth Fischer
Dr. Lori Kennedy, University of British Columbia
Dr. Ken Hickey, University of British Columbia
Dr. Jacob Hanley, Saint Mary’s University
Dr. Michael Melchin, St. Francis Xavier University
Selwyn-Chihong Mining Ltd.
North American Tungsten Corporation Ltd.
Selwyn Mountains, structure, March Fault, Howards Pass, Cantung, SEDEX, skarn, sediment-hosted, zinc, lead, tungsten, gold, ore fluid, fluid inclusions, structures, shear zone, fold, ore controls, structural controls, mineralization, biostratigraphy, conodont, graptolite, stratigraphy, Lower Paleozoic, Proterozoic, Sekwi Formation, Rabbitkettle Formation, Duo Lake Formation, stream sediment, geochemistry