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History of Madawaska (Faraday), Greyhawk, & Bicroft Mines

Last Updated: 8th Jul 2013

History of Madawaska (Faraday), Greyhawk, & Bicroft Mines
A bit of history about three of the main uranium producing mines around Bancroft, Ontario.

Bancroft has in the past been one of the major areas in Ontario where uranium could be found & mined. Some of the major uranium mines in the area were: Bicroft (near Monck road & highway 118), Greyhawk (on Greyhawk mine court & highway 28), & the largest mine Madawaska Faraday (on Madawaska Mine loop,… naturally).

Naturally as a rockhound I always think of collecting at these sites but one of these sites is not accessible to collectors. The two that are I will speak about later. Madawaska Faraday mine is not accessible to collectors, but Bicroft & Greyhawka are under specific conditions. Now lets get to the history of these mines.

Madawaska (Faraday) mine

The deposit here was discovered and originally staked in 1949 by A.H. Shore of Bancroft. Underground development began in 1954 by Faraday Uranium mines Limited which brought the mine into production in 1957. A mill was constructed on the site. Mining and milling operations continued until 1964 when existing contracts for the sale of uranium concentrate expired. The ore was obtained from a 44 m shaft; other underground development consisted of a 50 m shaft and three adits. Production amounted to 2 544 716 t of ore with an average grade of 0.1074 percent U3O8. Mining operations were resumed in 1975 by Madawaska Mines Limited. The shaft was deepened to 473 m and production began in 1976 to 1982.

As of 1975 ore reserves were proven & probable at 1,023,086 tons averaging 2.9 pounds U3O8 per ton, plus inferred 1,600,000 tons averaging 1.85 pounds U3O8 per ton.

The geology here is made up of extremely irregular bodies of sheared granite pegmatite, pegmatitic granite, & syenitic pegmatite occupying an area approximately 1800 meters long by 150 meters wide. The pegmatite conformably intrudes metagabbro, amphibolite, amphibole gneiss, biotite gneiss, calico-silicate gneiss striking east-north & dipping south. An interesting location with complex geology.

Madawaska Faraday was well known for some incredible large crystal that were encountered during early mining operation. These include large clear Selenite crystals, greyish-green to purple Anhydrite crystals, large honey Calcite crystals, botryoidal Hematite covered Calcite crystals, green & purple Fluorite crystals, amazing yellow Uranophane, & rare Beta-Uranophane. The Uranophane crystals & hematite covered Calcite are the most sought after item from Madawaska but due to the mine’s closure any sample from Madawaska is a rare item indeed. You can’t collect at Madawaska so they only way to get samples is by purchasing from collectors that already have them or going to a museum. Fine Madawaska items are becoming increasingly rarer.

I must confess, i am totally fascinated with this mine. The huge crystals, the massive operation, & the huge site have always interested me. I am always keeping an eye out for Madawaska Faraday stuff & an ear out for stories & rumors from there.

Here are pictures of pieces from Madawaska, a rare Uranophane & a hematite covered Calcite.

Uranophane cluster, 1.6 cm wide, from private collection. Radioactive giving off 12µSv/hr.

Uranophane


Rare Beta-Uranophane crystals. Received as a gift. FOV 2mm.

Beta-Uranophane


Hematite covered Calcite, 3.2 x 4.7 cm from private collection.

Calcite


Calcite, 5.2 across.

Calcite


Calcite, 6.6 cm across.

Calcite


Molybdenite, sample is 7 x5 cm.

Molybdenite


Some historical photos.

Here is a historical photo of the Madawaska Faraday Mine complex. Seen from the air. Picture copy taken by Frank Festa, from Andy Christie.

At 100% width


Here is a historic picture of the Madawaska Faraday Mine building complex.Picture copy taken by Frank Festa, from Andy Christie.

At 100% width


Greyhawk Mine
The deposit was discovered in 1955 and was a uranium producer from 1957 to 1969; total yield was valued at $834 889. Greyhawk Uranium mines, Limited worked the deposit and the ore was treated at the Faraday mill. In 1975, the property was acquired by Madawaska Mines Limited.

The geology here is made up of an amphibolite body striking northeast & dipping 50-65 degrees SE is intruded by radioactive pegmatite dikes. Ore shoots, averaging 100 by 6 feet, occur in magnetite-rich pegmatite, & in quartz-rich leucogranite.
In 1959, ore reserves were estimated at about 200,000 tons averaging 0.065% U3O8.

Bicroft Mine

The deposit was discovered in 1952 by G.W. Burns of Peterborough. Central Lake Uranium Mines Limited begun exploration of the deposit n 1953. By 1955 when the company was amalgamated with Croft Uranium Mines Limited to form Bicroft Uranium Mines Limited, exploration work consisted of surface cuts, a 53.4 m adit and a 71.4 m shaft. The newly formed company erected a mill, sank another shaft to a depth of 562 m and brought the mine into production in 1956. From the until operations were terminated in 1963, 2 016 693 kg of U3O8 were recovered from 2 233 055 t of ore.

Geology here is made up a north-south zone of radioactive granitic bodies occurs in a band of syenitized paragneiss & amphibolite striking north 10 degrees east & dipping 50 degrees east. The zone is overlain by marble to the east, & underlain by the east-dipping Center lake leucogranite of the Cardiff batholit to the west.

Collecting

Now just a quick bit about collecting here.

Madawaska (Faraday) Mine

After this mine was rehabilitated there now is no possibility of collecting here. There is No-trespassing signs at this site making it clear that this was a former mine with elevated uranium levels. If you are interested in history of this site & just want to be as close as you can there are a few areas near the property you can go. At Madawaska Faraday, the closest point to the mine is the dump rock along highway 28, south of Bancroft. You can’t miss it, its just north of the Madawaska Mine loop roads. You can’t get to the property of course but you can get close, not much to see thought, just the dump rock.
Madawaska is well know in collectors minds as spectacular samples have come from here when the mines was in operation. Everyone wants something from Madawaska, but on the top of the list is probably the Uranophanes. Just looking at those sharp delicate yellow needles can amaze anyone how they survived the mining operation. Since the mine is long closed, not accessible, the site has been rehabilitated, and the shafts covered and flooded no new samples will come forth from this mine. Some great samples from this site can be found at the ROM in Toronto & in the collections of rockhounds.
So there is no collecting at this site. Can’t really get far also. But you can be near, & the gates are quite interesting. Very ominous.

Greyhawk Mine

Greyhawk is accessible to collectors. The main way is blocked off by a gate, but you can use the ATV trail that follows behind the site. The ATV trail starts behind Kawartha Dairy, east of highway 28. You then follow the trail to the right (southward) for about 10 minutes until you encounter a lake on the left & the first dump on the right. You cant miss it when you get there. Keep to the right when you follow the ATV trail as there are a few branches. Above the first dump (the first one you encounter on the right, on the west) are the remains of some building, possibly a mine building. If you want to reach the second dump just head back along the ATV trail (back the way you came) and you will see the dump on the right (east) beside the lake. The dumps are decent size but there is not much to find. Most of the rock is a schist like mass. You can find some magnetite, tourmaline, quartz, and rare radioactive minerals. Not overly impressive but something. The lake might have fish, but I would not want to catch them.

Bicroft Mine

As Madawaska, Bicroft has also been rehabilitated but overly recently. The people that rehabilitated it did an amazing job, no radiation above background at the site of the shafts & long gone buildings. The only elevated radiation is at the parking area & the dumps. The dumps area located along a creek, the rock is small with not too much to find. You can find some radioactives, feldspar, & Quartz. You can also find rattlesnakes sunning on the exposed rocks, so take care. There is decent amount of material so who knows you might find something. When you are at the parking area there is an ATV trail to the left heading into the woods, if you follow it you will encounter the dump rock along the creek. If you continue along the ATV trail it will branch to the right and head into an empty field. You will see a power line/telephone pole here. The field is the site where the old buildings were & where the shafts are located. The shafts are covered up with cement blocks with vents. That is the only evidence that there was anything here. In the summer high grasses dominate the field as well as an insane amount of crickets & grasshoppers.
So here is the brief bit about collecting at these sites.
Here are some images from the Greyhawk & Bircoft Mines.

Greyhawk Mine

View of ATV trail, the dump locations are indicated by red arrows.

At 100% width

The large dump along the swamp.

At 100% width

The smaller dump along the ATV trail.

At 100% width

Building foundation, little to see here.

At 100% width


Bicroft Mine

Capped shafts at the Bicroft Mine. No elevated radiation here.

At 100% width

Dump rock along the river. Slight elevated radiation levels.

At 100% width

Parking area. Elevated radiation levels of 0.8 µSv/hr.

At 100% width

ATV trail on dump rock along the river. Best collecting potential would be this area.

At 100% width


Essentially Bicroft & Greyhawk can be collected at if you stay to local ATV trails. Madawaska is not accessible unless you somehow can get permission.

If you go to these sites keep in mind that access permission can change, since the last time i was there.

Hope you all enjoyed this read.
Rockhound Safe & with Determination.

Michal A.

Reference:
Canadian Mines Handbook, 1977-1978, Northern Miner Press
Uranium & Thorium Deposits of Southern Ontario, page 66, 221, & 225.
Miscellaneous report 39, pages 41, 42, & 48.




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