Chromite occurrences of the Canadian Appalachians

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 75, No. 837, 1982

N. KACIRA, Senior Geologist, Exploration, Denison Mines Limited, Toronto, Ontario

Canada's largest known chromite deposit occurs in a layered intrusion in the Bird River area of Manitoba. However, numerically most of the chromite occurrences are in the Appalachians. Few, apparently minor, occurrences are also known in the Cordillera.In the Appalachians, chromite occurs as lenses and pods in dunite; they are of "podiform" type. The individual concentrations vary in size from a few pounds to tens of thousands of tons. Locally, chromite concentrations form discontinuous zones extending several hundred feet along strike and presumably down dip, therefore resembling boudinaged layers. Chromite layering and lineation are commonly concordant to those of the host rocks.The Appalachian chromite occurrences are thought to have been formed by fractional crystallization and perhaps also by liquid immiscibility. Their present shape and distribution are largely the result of deformation mostly prior to complete solidification of their host rocks. Therefore, the attitude of layering, foliation, lineation and other features related to deformation provide valuable guides in predicting the probable distribution of chromite, and hence are helpful in exploration.Chromites fulfilling the requirements for metallurgical, refractory and chemical grades occur in the Appalachians. Although the Appalachian deposits are similar in size and grade to some of the chromite deposits being mined elsewhere, they are unlikely to be economic, at present, in the higher-wage Canadian environment. However, in case of shortages in chromite ore supply which may result, among other reasons, from increasing tendency to further processing in the producing countries, the Appalachian occurrences may become sources of ore. Such eventual shortages combined with relative abundance of electricity in Canada and recent innovations in oxide ore reduction technology may hasten the time whenfer-rochrome manufacture based on local chromite sources becomes economically viable.
Keywords: Chromite, Appalachians, Economic geology, Ultramafic rocks, Dunite, Ophiolites, Thetford Mines area, Sterrett Mine, Springer's Hill prospect, Huard Mines, American Chrome Company.