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- Iron and titanium:
a review of iron and ilmenite deposits in Québec >>
- Iron and titanium deposits in Québec >>
- Principal types of iron and titanium showings in Québec
- 2005-2006 Departmental
Program - Maximizing impacts from exploration activities in Québec >>
- Discovery of
in Québec's Far North: a diamond indicator mineral? >>
- Assessment of
Abitibi's Massive sulphide potential: enthusiastically welcomed
by the industry! >>
- 2005 Symposium
on Mines and the Environment >>
a review of iron and ilmenite deposits in Québec
Abdelali Moukhsil and Serge Perreault, P. geo.
Technical support: Éric Grégoire
Direction de Géologie Québec
For the past two years, the price of iron pellets
has been skyrocketing. As noted by the Department in the Summary
and Highlights of the Québec Mining Industry for 2004,
producers Québec Cartier and IOC saw the price of iron pellets
and concentrate rise by 21.2% and 22.33%, respectively. Worldwide
reference prices for these two products reached historic highs in
2004. In response to this increase, many mining companies, large
and small, have shown a growing interest in iron exploration. In
Québec, most of the unmined iron deposits evaluated between
1950 and 1980 are held by several junior mining companies.
The rising price of iron ore and the promising
outlook for the coming years have led to renewed interest in iron
exploration in Québec. It has not attracted this much interest
since the 1960s. A quick calculation of geological resources, based
on the Department's mineral deposit records, indicates that Québec
has inferred resources of more than 2 billion tonnes of ore. However,
there are about twenty deposits with a grade of more than 30% Fe,
with tonnages in excess of 100 million tonnes (PDF format, 737 kb
- Available in French). Nearly half of these deposits are
located in the area lying between Fermont and the Manicouagan reservoir.
The sector north of the Labrador Trough, more specifically north
of Baie-aux-Feuilles, also contains several major deposits. The
Great Whale Iron (Baie James), Duncan (Baie James) and Lac Albanel
deposits are also major Québec deposits. It should be noted,
however, that the mineral resources of these deposits were assessed
during the 1960s and no longer meet the 43-101 standard.
Companies intending to develop an iron deposit
must take several factors into consideration:
- Iron market trends in the medium and long term. The iron market
is cyclical and very sensitive to global economic fluctuations
(e.g.: the price of oil and gas, economic crises, etc.).
- How far deposits are from major infrastructures. Companies
mining deposits that are far from existing infrastructures will
face rapidly rising costs if they need to build new ones for shipping
iron concentrate and pellets.
- The tonnage and grade of the deposit's iron ore. Though metamorphic
iron deposits are interesting in terms of grain size and local
concentrations of iron-oxide-rich horizons, the waste-to-ore ratio
is generally high. In Québec and Labrador, production of
iron concentrate (67% Fe) from ore at an average grade of
30% to 42% Fe requires concentration. This concentration
leads to higher production costs than in Australia and Brazil,
where most of the iron deposits mined are naturally iron rich,
grading from 60% to 66%, and require little secondary concentration.
- In Canada, labour costs and operating costs are generally higher
than for Australian and Brazilian mines. To be competitive on
the world stage, iron mining companies in Québec and Labrador
are making major efforts to reduce these costs.
In any case, certain major unmined iron deposits
in Québec should be reassessed in compliance with the 43-101
standard. As was mentioned earlier, several factors will need to
be considered before a new iron mine is opened outside of currently
active sites in Québec and Labrador.
Iron and titanium deposits in Québec
Exploration for iron and titanium deposits and
mining of ilmenite deposits has been going on for one hundred years
in Québec. The development, in the 1940s, of blast furnace
fusion technology made it possible to produce very pure iron and
a slag in which titanium and undesirable elements were concentrated.
Following these developments, exploration for ilmenite (and hemo-ilmenite)
deposits flourished. The development of a purification process for
the slag led to the creation of synthetic rutile, which has undergone
spectacular development over the past 50 years and has become
one of the most common mineral commodities in our lives.
The prospects for growth of the synthetic rutile
market have been evaluated at 2% per year. However, because strong
economic growth in China has led to a price increase, the titanium
pigment market will also be growing more rapidly over the coming
years. These new prospect for the synthetic rutile market are revitalizing
exploration for iron and titanium deposits in Québec. In
this context, here is a review of iron and titanium (ilmenite) deposits
Iron and titanium mineralization is typically observed
in anorthositic massifs and ultramafic intrusions. The mineralization
consists of ilmenite and hemo-ilmenite associated with magnetite,
which is sometimes titanium-bearing, spinel (hercynite), and, locally,
apatite, rutile, iron and copper sulphides and silicates. Major
mineral resources of ilmenite and magnetite occur in the form of
heavy-mineral-rich layers known as black sand. Classification of
the types of iron and titanium mineralization in the Moyenne-Côte-Nord
(Mid-North-Shore) area was initiated by Perreault et al.
Apart from the size of showings and the presence
of ilmenite and magnetite, geologists or prospectors must take several
criteria into consideration in evaluating an iron and titanium showing.
For titanium showings, prospectors must consider:
- the type of ilmenite: hemo-ilmenite, ilmenite with hematite
lamellae, ilmenite with magnetite lamellae or pure ilmenite;
- the TiO2 grade of the ilmenite and of the rock;
- the presence of undesirable elements such as MgO, CaCO3,
Al2O3 and Cr2O3, which
must be below the 2% mark.
- the presence of rutile in the mineralization, which increases
the TiO2 grade of the ore.
Apart from prospecting in the field (ilmenite is
a black, very dense mineral), prospectors and geologists will need
to use geophysical methods, such as magnetic and gravimetric surveys,
and lake-bottom sediment or stream-sediment heavy mineral geochemistry
to outline areas to be investigated. Though it is still expensive,
a detailed gravimetric survey is very useful when the time comes
to outline a mineralized body.
There are huge areas left to be explored in Québec.
In addition to certain anorthosite massifs such as the Morin and
Saint-Urbain massifs, which have been covered by intensive exploration
programs in the past, the northern part of the Havre-Saint-Pierre
Anorthositic Suite is a first-rate target. Once the road leading
to the future hydroelectric generating stations of the Romaine project
has been built, new areas will become accessible at a lower cost.
An in-depth study of the nature of known iron and titanium mineralization
in the Lac Saint-Jean Anorthositic Suite could reveal significant
Principal types of iron and titanium showings
- Veins, dykes, clusters and tabular bodies of
massive ilmenite (hemo-ilmenite) associated with andesine anorthosite
||The Tio Mine is the best-known deposit in this class. Located
near Havre-Saint-Pierre on the Mid-North-Shore, it is the only
producing iron and titanium (hemo-ilmenite) mine in Canada.
The deposit, mined as an open pit by QIT-Fer et Titane inc.,
is ranked first worldwide for its annual production of hemo-ilmenite
and second for its mineral reserves. The latter are sufficient
to allow fifty more years of operation.
Proven reserves are evaluated at nearly 75 Mt
at an average combined grade of 86.9% iron and titanium oxides,
including 34.2% TiO2, 27.5% FeO, 25.2% Fe2O3,
4.3% SiO2, 3.5% Al2O3, 3.1% MgO,
0.9% CaO, 0.1% Cr2O3 and 0.41% V2O5.
The other known hemo-ilmenite deposits are: Ivry in the Laurentides
Region, the Coulombe, Bignell, Furnace and General Electric deposits
of the Saint-Urbain Anorthositic Suite and the Lac Brûlé
deposit of the Labrieville Anorthositic Suite (PDF format, 1,5 Mb
- Available in French).
Some tabular bodies of hemo-ilmenite, including
the Big Island (Havre-Saint-Pierre Anorthositic Suite), General
Electric, Coulombe Est and Coulombe Ouest deposits, contain rutile
(PDF format, 15,5 Kb).
The TiO2 grade of these deposits is higher than normal.
- Dykes, clusters or masses of magnetite-, ilmenite- and apatite-bearing
nelsonite, gabbronorite and jotunite (ferrodiorite)
The mineralization is associated with labradorite
and andesine anorthosite as well as layered mafic igneous complexes.
The principal ones are the Everett deposit, on the eastern margin
of the Havre-Saint-Pierre Anorthositic Suite, and the Saint-Charles
and Hache-Est deposits of the Lac Saint-Jean Anorthositic Suite.
|The Sept-Îles Layered Complex (PDF format, 7,2 Kb)
contains several layers of magnetite and a significant horizon
of nelsonite (magnetite-, ilmenite- and apatite-bearing rock).
The Arnaud Township nelsonite horizon has reserves of 107.8
Mt with an average grade of 6.19% P2O5
and 8.41% TiO2 (McCann 1998).
- Dykes and horizons of leuconorite and ilmenite-magnetite-bearing
norite with veins and clusters of hemo-ilmenite
||The mineralization is present in labradorite and andesine
anorthosite massifs. It is generally not very extensive and
has no real economic potential.
- Horizons, clusters and dykes of massive titaniferous magnetite
and magnetite-bearing melanogabbro
|The mineralization is associated with labradorite-bearing
anorthosite and layered mafic igneous complexes. Ilmenite is
present in the mineralization in variable amounts. The TiO2
grade of the mineralization lies between 1 and 20%. The Magpie
deposit on the Côte-Nord and the Hervieux-Ouest, Hervieux-Est,
Schmoo (De La Blache Anorthositic Suite), Saint-Charles (Lac
Saint-Jean Anorthositic Suite), Desgrobois and Saint-Hyppolyte
(Morin Anorthositic Suite) deposits are examples associated
with labradorite-bearing anorthositic suites. The Magpie deposit
(1 to 4) is one of the largest titaniferous magnetite deposits
in the world with proven reserves of 187.93 Mt and probable
reserves of 629.667 Mt (Perreault et al. 2002).
||The massive magnetite layers of the Sept-Îles layered
igneous complex and the lac Doré layered igneous complex
(PDF format, 5,5 Kb),
an Archean bedded anorthositic intrusion (Daigneault and Allard,
1990), are subeconomic to economic sources of iron, titanium
and vanadium. In the case of the lac Doré Complex, the
magnetite is vanadium bearing. However, mining is impeded by
metallurgical problems for the iron and titanium and market
problems for the vanadium.
DAIGNEAULT, R., Allard, G. O.,1990, Le Complexe
du Lac Doré et son environnement géologique (Région
de Chibougamau sous-province de l’Abitibi), Ministère
de l’Énergie et des Ressources, Québec, MM 89-03,
HIGGINS, M. D., VAN BREEMEN, O.,1998, The Age
of the Sept-Îles Layered Mafic Intrusion, Canada: Implications
for the Late Neoproterozoic/Cambrian History of Southeastern Canada,
Journal of Geology, volume 106, pages 421-431.
McCANN, J., 1998, Exploration and Development
of Apatite and Ilmenite: the Sept-Îles of Norsk Hydro-SOQUEM,
dans : Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Forum on the Geology of Industrial
Minerals, 1997, Ville de Québec, Québec, pages 57-73.
PERREAULT, S., JACOB, H.-L., BUTEAU, P., 2002,
Les minéraux industriels de la moyenne Côte-Nord,
dans : Géologie et ressources minérales de la partie
est de la Province de Grenville, Éditeurs : Daniel Brisebois
et Thomas Clark, Ministère des Ressources naturelles, Québec,
DV 2002-03, pages 387-408.
Maximizing impacts from exploration activities in Québec
Direction de Géologie Québec
Over the next few years, the Ministère
des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune will be continuing
its efforts to maximize impacts from exploration investments. Though
work on knowledge acquisition has been put on hold for a year, work
relating to geoscience knowledge has by no means come to a standstill.
In 2005-2006, the Department will concentrate on producing new exploration
targets derived from processing and integrating data from its databank.
The Department will therefore be defining roughly
one hundred exploration targets using the databank. It will also
produce documents describing promising new exploration sectors.
It should be noted that, when 155 exploration targets were revealed
in that way last March, 31 were immediately the subject of mineral
The Service géologique de Québec
will be working on a few projects focusing on Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization
in the Mauricie Region, architectural stone in the Côte-Nord
Region, peatlands and crushed stone. There will be verification
field trips in preparation for the regional syntheses. The Service
géologique du Nord-Ouest, meanwhile, will be prioritizing
projects already begun in areas targeted as having an impact on
the Copper Plan, such as the Blake River Group, the Grenville Front,
the area east of Matagami and the Urban-Barry Belt. In partnership
with the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue,
it will also continue to work on integrating public databases to
produce unified 3D models of geology, geophysics, and geochemistry.
Géologie Québec's 2005-2006 program
will also lead to producing new syntheses in the form of promotional
documents, compilation maps and topical reports that relate to several
active mineral exploration sectors. Therefore, several topical maps,
relating to stratigraphy, mineral deposits, structure and metamorphism,
will be produced for the Far North regional synthesis project. Another
major synthesis covers the entire eastern portion of the Grenville
Province. Maps of the Labrador Trough will also be updated. In Abitibi,
projects underway will make it possible to provide the Department's
clientele with new compilation maps at a scale of 1:250 000 and
1:500 000, with study reports and with mineral potential maps suggesting
new exploration targets based on the integration and development
of available public data.
Discovery of sapphirine in Québec Far
a diamond indicator mineral?
Direction de Géologie Québec
|A fragment of breccia containing sapphirine has been discovered
in the Troie Complex in the Archean Minto Subprovince, located
in the northeastern part of the Superior Province. The area
(Peters Lake, NTS 24M) was mapped by the Department
during summer 2001 as part of the “Grand Nord” (Far
North) project. Sapphirine, a rare mineral that had never been
documented in the Canadian craton, is a deep blue ferromagnesian
silicate which, when in equilibrium with quartz, characterizes
rocks formed under ultrahigh pressure and temperature conditions.
Location of the Troie Complex in the Superior
Various geothermobarometers have been used to estimate
the conditions under which the assemblages observed in the Peters
Lake area were formed. They yielded high temperatures (755 - 1260
°C) and pressures (7,5 – 14 kbars), revealing that formation
occurred at great depth (24 - 46 km). These new results, much higher
than existing values, make it possible to propose new hypotheses
for the tectonothermal evolution of the Archean crust in this part
of the Superior Province. The presence of this high-pressure mineral
in the Troie Complex could open the Peters Lake area to diamond
exploration, since geochemical anomalies that could indicate the
presence of kimberlites have already been mentioned in the Department's
|The Troie Complex is dominated by synmagmatic felsic plutonic
rocks containing volcanosedimentary inclusions, metamorphosed
to granulite facies. The Douglas-Harbour Domain is composed
of a tonalite-trondhjemite complex (Faribault-Thury) and is
intruded into the 2740–2726 Ma Troie enderbitic complex.
A breccia in the core of the Troie Complex contains a heterogeneous
population of xenoliths in an enderbitic matrix. One of the
xenoliths has sapphirine + plagioclase (and/or potassium feldspar)
symplectite surrounding sillimanite and cordierite crystals.
Geological map of the lac Peters area
Sillimanite porphyroblast replaced by sapphirine
+ plagioclase symplectitic textures |
Cordierite + biotite replaced by sapphirine
+ K-feldspar symplectitic textures
For more information about work carried out
by the Ministère des Ressources Naturelles et de la Faune
in this area and on the formation of sapphirine, please see the
following article which has just been published in a special volume
of the Canadian
Truth and beauty in metamorphism: a tribute to
Dugald Carmichael (Volume 43),
S. CADERON, W.E TRZCIENSKI Jr., J. H. BÉDARD & N. GOULET,
An occurrence of sapphirine in the Archean Superior Province,
northern Quebec, p. 463-478.
of Abitibi's massive sulphide potential:
enthusiastically welcomed by the industry!
Direction de Géologie Québec
Publication of the study dealing with the Abitibi
volcanogenic massive sulphide potential (EP 2005-01) was eagerly
awaited. Results of the study were disclosed on March 7, 2005, during
the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention
in Toronto. Most visitors were impressed by the extensive and consistent
coverage of the work.
Geoscience data from Abitibi greenstone belts was
reprocessed using an innovative approach, the steps of which are
explained in detail in report EP
2005-01. Results are presented in a user-friendly manner and
the document contains an impressive number of intermediate vector
and raster files (more than 24 GB).
The general map, at a scale of 1:500,000, and 120
base metal potential assessment maps, at a scale of 1:50,000, are
available on CD in PDF format. Easily accessible using an index
map, they show:
- variations in potential resulting from the combination of 26
parameters used in the study;
- highly favourable zones for massive sulphides;
- the position of the unclaimed portions of the zones (at the
time the study was carried out).
The unclaimed portions represent 155 targets,
hyperlinked to a descriptive database.
One month after publication of the results, 31
of the proposed targets had been claimed and are now covered by
a total of 412 mineral titles. Furthermore, each company with mineral
titles touching a highly favourable (or promising) zone received
a letter mentioning the existence of the zone on its property.
Chances are that publication of the English version
of the study in May 2005 will result in additional claims being
filed on remaining available targets (EP
Symposium on Mines and the Environment
From May 15 to 18, 2005, the 2005 Symposium
on mines and the environment was held in Rouyn-Noranda. The event
drew more than 200 participants from across Canada and abroad.
The objectives of this kind of symposium are to share the most recent
information in terms of mining and the environment and to discuss
practical experiences, in order to find solutions that reconcile
profitability of mining operations and environmental protection.
The Department is therefore proud to have been involved at the organizational
level and in presenting technical sessions. The proceedings of the
2005 Symposium will be available soon.