Wawa has long been a center of mineral exploration activity and diamonds have been reported in the area since the 1930s. However, diamond exploration did not begin in the area in earnest until 1991. In 1993, Sandor Surmacz and Marcelle Hauseux of Saminex began a prospecting program in the area which culminated in their discovery of the “Sandor” diamond occurrence in an outcrop on the east side of the Trans-Canada Highway. They subsequently optioned the property to Spider Resources Inc. who obtained the necessary exploration permits from Algoma Central Corporation and undertook an exploration program. The diamonds at the “Sandor” diamond occurrence are hosted in the matrix of a spessartite dike composed of actinolite, biotite, and albite. Of the 64 similar dikes that have been sampled and analyzed to date, eight have been found to contain a total of 231 diamonds. Most of the diamonds are of high quality, although they are small.
The dikes are non-magnetic and do not have any other geophysical characteristic that can be used to differentiate them from the adjacent country rock. All of the dikes discovered to date have been found by prospecting or by geological mapping by the Ontario Geological Survey. The dikes do not contain pyrope garnet or chrome diopside, two of the commonly used kimberlite indicator minerals. Instead, low Mg, high Cr, Zn-rich chromite, and ilmenites of variable composition, some of which lie within the field of kimberlitic Mg-ilmenite compositions, characterize the diamondiferous dikes.
A regional-scale till sampling program for heavy minerals, and geochemical analysis of the <0.177 mm fraction, was used to further define the areas of occurrence of the spessartite dikes and to indicate additional areas for diamond prospecting. Heavy minerals in till that were most useful include: actinolite, chromite, and ilmenite. Geochemical analyses of the dikes show them to contain elevated concentrations of Ni and Cr and to be enriched in Ba, Co, V, Ca, Fe, and Mg relative to the surrounding rocks. Elevated concentrations of Ni and Cr in till occur overlying and down-ice of known lamprophyre dikes.