Abstract

The Cigar Lake uranium deposit occurs within the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskatchewan, Canada. Like other major uranium deposits of the basin, it is located at the unconformity separating Helikian sandstones of the Athabasca Group from Aphebian metasediments and plutonic rocks of the Wollaston Group. The Athabasca Group was deposited in an intra-continental sedimentary basin that was filled by fluviatile terrestrial quartz sandstones and conglomerates. The group appears undeformed and its actual maximum thickness is about 1500 m. On the eastern side of the basin, the detrital units correspond to the Manitou Falls Formations where most of the uranium deposits are located. The Lower Pelitic unit of the Wollaston Group, which lies directly on the Archean basement, is considered to be the most favourable horizon for uranium mineralization. During the Hudsonian orogeny (1800–1900 Ma), the group underwent polyphase deformation and upper amphibolite facies metamorphism. The Hudsonian orogeny was followed by a long period of erosion and weathering and the development of a paleoweathering profile.On the Waterbury Lake property, the Manitou Falls Formation is 250–500 m thick and corresponds to units MFd, MFc, and MFb. The conglomeratic MFb unit hosts the Cigar Lake deposit. However, the basal conglomerate is absent at the deposit, wedging out against an east–west, 20 m high, pre-Athabasca basement ridge, on top of which is located the orebody.Two major lithostructural domains are present in the metamorphic basement of the property: (1) a southern area composed mainly of pelitic metasediments (Wollaston Domain) and (2) a northern area with large lensoid granitic domes (Mudjatik Domain). The Cigar Lake east–west pelitic basin, which contains the deposit, is located in the transitional zone between the two domains. The metamorphic basement rocks in the basin consist mainly of graphitic metapelitic gneisses and calcsilicate gneisses, which are inferred to be part of the Lower Pelitic unit. Graphite- and pyrite-rich "augen gneisses," an unusual facies within the graphitic metapelitic gneisses, occur primarily below the Cigar Lake orebody.The mineralogy and geochemistry of the graphitic metapelitic gneisses suggest that they were originally shales. The abundance of magnesium in the intercalated carbonates layers indicates an evaporitic origin.The structural framework is dominated by large northeast–southwest lineaments and wide east–west mylonitic corridors. These mylonites, which contain the augen gneisses, are considered to be the most favourable features for the concentration of uranium mineralization.Despite the presence of the orebody, large areas of the Waterbury Lake property remain totally unexplored and open for new discoveries.

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