The "Lost Mine" is a calcite vein-dyke locality in the vicinity of the Smart and Meany Mines, close to Lake Clear. This calcite vein-dyke locality is famous for nice apatite and titanite crystals which are found in weathered out calcite vein-dykes or in-situ in the solid calcite vein-dykes. Collecting at the Lost Mine is done but locating a weathered dyke and digging down into the soil to recover loose crystals. Also, where the calcite is exposed, it is sometimes possible to remove apatite crystals by chiseling, prying, sawing, etc. It is very difficult to remove crystals i nthe calcite by force since they are brittle and tend to break up. We visited the Lost Mine several times during 2006-7 and 2008. Here are some photo's that give you an idea of what it is like. Look under "Grenville" in the main "Minerals" section of this website for nice specimens that are available to you.
This is very nice specimen of a larger apatite crystal in the pinkish calcite vein-dyke material. The apatite crystal is 10.0cm long. Apatite is difficult to collect in the calcite because, when you pry or try to break the calcite, it generally breaks right throught the middle of the apatite crystal or, since the calcite is kind of plastic in a geological sense, and the apatite brittle, all or part of the apatite crystal will break or part will pop out. Very frustrating! For information only. Not for sale.
When the apaite crystals naturally weather out of the calcite, they are always a reddish colour like this. This crystal is 14.5cm long. I love finding bigger crystals! It just doesn't happen that often. For information only. Not for sale.
This is what nice apatite crystals look like in-situ, that is, embedded in the calcite vein-dyke. Looks like it would be easy to get them out, right? Wrong! Calcite is fairly plastic and sort of bends and moves when you chisel it. The apatites are not and they tend to break-up when you try to pry or chisel the calcite. Tricky!
Here are nice apatite crystals exposed in the dirt in a calcite vein-dyke that has been etched away. These apatite crystals were attached to the wall rock and I did get a couple of them off intact. They are always red when they are in the dirt and green when they are in fresh calcite.
Another mineral that occurs in VERY large crystals at the Lost Mine is biotite. The crystals can form up to 30+ cm across! Impossible to extract from the calcite but awesome to behold!
But he did pull out lots of apatite crystals!
We re-visited one of the vein-dykes this past fall but the water table was very high making collecting difficult. My brother Brian is shown here up to his ying-yang in mud.
If you visit the site in late May or June you'll probably get lots of blackfly bites!
We used a Mini-Blaster unit to break out chunks of calcite with titanite crystals in them. Then we dissolved away the calcite with acid to recover titanite crystals. It was moderately successful but VERY expensive. Here is a picture of me with the miniblaster, drill and generator. Lots of black flies then!!
Here is the "wall" of a calcite vein-dyke. at one time, these feldspar crystals were totally embedded in calcite but over the past 10,000 years (since the last ice age) the calcite has dissolved away leaving the feldspar crystals like this. I found one crystal that is 40cm across!
On one trip we stuck to digging out a dissolved calcite vein-dyke. Here are my collecting buddies Mike Irwin and Ray McDougal on a perfect, dry October afternoon. Lots of titanite and apatite crystals in this trench!
Here is a nice trench the Ray MacDougall is industriously excavating on a beautiful Fall morning. I LOVE collecting in the fall!