Diamond Rush in Québec
A closer look at the situation
James Moorhead and Marc Beaumier
|Québec is currently a major target
area for diamond exploration in Canada. Since the announcement,
on December 17, 2001, of the discovery of diamond-bearing kimberlites
by the SOQUEM/Ashton joint venture in the Renard sector, located
north of the Monts Otish, diamond exploration activity has
been booming. Since then, about 44,000 claim applications have
been submitted. These claims cover a surface area of about 1.6
million hectares. Overall, roughly $5M have been spent in acquisition
costs only, for properties related to diamond exploration.
Over the years, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du
Québec has contributed to this recent boom through:
- petrographic and geochemical studies of dykes (Gittins, Hewins
- indicator mineral inventories in eskers (Beaumier and al.,1993)
and tills in the Abitibi subprovince (LaSalle and al.,1986; Beaumier
- orientation work in the Témiscamingue region, focussing
on the geochemistry of stream sediments in the vicinity of kimberlite
pipes (Beaumier and al.,1993) in order to outline areas of interest
in the region for kimberlite exploration (Beaumier and al.,1994).
More recent contributions include:
- Studies on the characteristics and structural controls of kimberlites
in Québec, that helped define 4 zones where new kimberlite
fields could potentially be located (Moorhead and al., 1999, 2000).
Exploration programs have since then uncovered kimberlites or
indicator minerals in 3 of these sectors.
- Discovery of ultramafic lamprophyre dykes in the Lac Aigneau
area, some of which are geochemically similar to kimberlites (Berclaz
and al., 2000; Lemieux and al., 2001), during a mapping project
in Québec's Far North. Claims were staked over these dykes.
- A mineral potential study based on a compilation of remote
sensing and geophysical lineaments in the Far North region, that
identified lineament intersection zones that may be conducive
to kimberlite emplacement (Labbé, 2000).
- Geochemical characterization studies of lake sediments in Québec's
Far North, to identify target areas for diamond exploration (Beaumier,
- Petrography and mineralogy studies on the Lac Beaver kimberlite,
in the Otish field (Bernier and Moorhead, 2000; Girard, 2001)
that helped identify the hypabyssal nature of the intrusion, as
well as the composition of indicator minerals.
- Studies on the various phases of glacial flow, conducted in
conjunction with a till and esker sampling program, in order to
identify kimberlite indicator minerals. This work was performed
with the cooperation of the Geological Survey of Canada, as a
component of the Far North mapping program (Beaumier and al.,
2002; Beaumier and al., 2001; Parent and al., 2002). Samples collected
in two different locations in eskers north of Lac Bienville contain
picroilmenite. Several claims were staked in this area after these
results were released at the PDAC convention in Toronto, in March
The hot spots for diamond exploration in
James Moorhead and Marc
Although we are currently witnessing an unprecedented
rush for diamonds, diamond-related exploration is far from being
just the latest fad.
Kimberlite fields in Québec (PDF format, 373 kb)
To date, five kimberlite fields have
been identified in Québec. These are:
A few milestones in the history of diamond exploration in Québec:
James Moorhead and Marc Beaumier
of kimberlite dykes at Lac Bachelor near Desmaraisville, in
the north-central part of the Abitibi Subprovince, during
an exploration program for gold (Watson, 1955).
just west of Montréal, on Île Bizard, of the
"Sugar loaf", a rock considered at the time as a
kimberlite (Brummer, 1978).
of kimberlite dykes near the northern margin of the Otish
basin during an exploration program for uranium conducted
by Uranerz (Gehrish and al., 1979).
of a kimberlite pipe in Guigues Township in the Témiscamingue
region by Monopros (Brunet, 1983).
of a diamond-bearing kimberlite pipe near Desmaraisville by
Explorations minières du Nord Ltée. (Field and
of diamond-bearing ultramafic lamprophyre dykes in the Fjord
Alluviaq (Abloviak) area, on the east coast of Ungava Bay
in the Monts Torngat by scientists of the Université
du Québec à Montréal (Digonnet and al.,
of kimberlites in Notre-Dame-du-Nord in the Témiscamingue
region (Thomas, 1994).
of diamond-bearing ultramafic lamprophyres in the Grenville
Province south of the Témiscamingue region by Ditem
Explorations (Brack, 1996).
by Ditem Explorations of a diamond-bearing kimberlite
pipe adjacent to kimberlite dykes discovered by Uranerz near
the Otish basin (Brack, 1998,1999).
and assessment of dykes in the Fjord Alluviaq area (Monts
Torngat) by Twin Mining and other companies.
and delineation of indicator mineral trains in areas west
of Wemindji by Majescor Resources, and north of the Monts
Otish by SOQUEM/Ashton and Majescor Resources.
of two diamond-bearing kimberlite pipes in the
Renard sector, north of the Monts Otish by SOQUEM/Ashton in
December 2001, and of four other kimberlites in the winter
of diamond-bearing mafic lamprophyre dykes in an area south
of Réservoir Robert-Bourassa by Dianor
of kimberlite sills in an area east of Wemindji by Majescor
2002-2003 Field Program
Pierre Verpaelst and Robert Marquis
Year after year, in order to open new territories
to mineral exploration, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles,
through Géologie Québec, continues to acquire geoscience
data in areas with promising mineral potential.
Next November, during the Geological Research
Information Seminar, the results of surveys conducted during the
summer by the Department and its partners involved in exploration
will be unveiled.
Here is an exclusive look at the projects that
will be carried out over the course of the 2002 field season.
In 1998, Géologie Québec
launched a five-year project to complete the mapping coverage of
the Nord-du-Québec region at 1:250,000 scale.
This year, Géologie Québec heads into the fifth field
campaign of this project. Given its magnitude and complexity, this
campaign calls on an important proportion of the human and financial
resources of our geological services. This year, three teams will
be at work north of the 55th parallel.
A metallogenic study of the principal metalliferous
showings, and an age dating program will be undertaken. In partnership
with the Université du Québec à Montréal,
McGill University, Simon Fraser University and the Geological Survey
of Canada, thematic studies will complement Géologie Québec's
involvement in the Far North. Recently, a collaborative effort between
the Geological Survey of Canada and Géologie Québec
led to the discovery of kimberlite indicator minerals in the Lac
Bienville area. To conclude this program, a geological overview
of Québec's Far North will be produced.
Projects underway in the Baie James region
essentially relate to a global geological and metallogenic overview
of work performed since 1995 along the rivière La Grande.
A recent compilation of geological data for map sheet will allow
us to release very soon a new collection of colour-coded maps at
1:50,000 scale for the entire 33G map sheet.
Projects in the Abitibi are conducted
under the three-year action plan for 2001-2003 established
by the Ministère in conjunction with mining industry members.
Géologie Québec is currently continuing its inventory
survey in the Urban-Barry belt, east of Lebel-sur-Quévillon,
as well as a metallogenic study of the Doyon-Bousquet-LaRonde
mining camp undertaken in 2000. This year, a 3D-modelling
component will be added to the latter study. The 3D-modelling,
at the scale of the mining camp, will be conducted in partnership
with the URSTM (Unité de recherché en sciences et
en technologie minérale) of the Université du Québec
en Abitibi-Témiscamigue. The other partners
involved in the Doyon-Bousquet-LaRonde project with
the Department are: mining companies Barrick Gold Corporation,
Cambior Inc., Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd and Yorbeau Resources
Inc., as well as the Geological Survey of Canada.
During the summer 2002, the Department
will also launch a new mapping project in the Lac Olga sector, located
between Matagami and Chibougamau. A metallogenic study north of
Rouyn-Noranda, along the Destor-Porcupine
fault, is also on the agenda. This study includes a 3D-modelling
component as well.
Furthermore, our compilation efforts at all map
scales will continue. This measure will allow us to produce a new
collection of colour-coded maps for the entire 32E map sheet.
This year also, a global map at 1:500,000 scale
of the entire Abitibi greenstone belt incorporating the latest geological
and geochronological data will be released in digital format.
Finally, three new mineral potential maps for the
volcanogenic massive sulphide model will be produced.
Géologie Québec continues
to extend its geological mapping coverage at 1:50,000 scale
of the Grenville Province, as well as its regional overviews. One
of these deals with map sheet 22E north of the Saguenay region,
an area with particularly promising Ni-Cu and PGE potential.
Another mapping project covers map sheet 31O/06, north of Mont-Laurier;
it will allow us to complete an overview of the north part of the
Central Metasedimentary Belt. This area is particularly interesting
for its ore deposit settings in a metasedimentary environment.
Over the past year, after consulting
with exploration companies and research agencies involved in this
area, Géologie Québec has prepared a three-year
plan for its activities in the Appalachians. This year, phase I
of the plan will be launched with a project to compile, update the
geology and study the metallogenic setting of the southern Gaspésie
region and the Bas-Saint-Laurent. These studies are
more specifically focused on base and precious metal deposits hosted
in "red bed" and Carlin-type settings. This
project also includes a re-analysis of stream sediments
for base metals.
An important strategic issue for the mining industry in Québec
Direction de la politique et de l'économie minérales
SODÉMEX and SODÉMEX II
The mission of limited partnerships SODÉMEX (Société
de développement des entreprises minières
et d'exploration) and SODÉMEX II is to participate
in the development of the mining industry in Québec,
by taking an equity stake in junior exploration companies
and mining producers involved in Québec whose market
capitalization is below 125 million dollars. Gestion
SODÉMEX inc. manages the investment portfolio of
these limited partnership funds.
For more information, please contact Mr. Denis
Landry, president of Gestion SODÉMEX inc. in Québec,
at (418) 684-8168 or at the following e-mail address:
Diversification of Exploration Investment Partnership
The gouvernement du Québec,
in partnership with the QFL Solidarity Fund, created the Diversification
of Exploration Investment Partnership (Société d'investissement
dans la diversification de l'exploration - SIDEX). Its mission is
to invest in companies involved in mineral exploration, in order
to diversify Québec's mineral base. This fund allows the
gouvernement du Québec, the QFL Solidarity Fund and their partners
to play key roles in the most promising exploration projects.
For more information, please consult
the fund's website at: www.sidex.ca.
Mining investment portfolio
The QFL Solidarity Fund owns a mining
portfolio including exploration companies and mining producers.
The Nord-du-Québec QFL Regional Solidarity Fund,
and the Abitibi-Témiscamingue QFL Regional Solidarity
Fund are also interested in the mineral exploration sector.
For more information concerning eligibility
requirements and general investment terms and conditions, please
consult the QFL Solidarity Fund's website at: www.fondsftq.com.
Regulations concerning temporary
A titleholder who owns a claim, a mining exploration licence or
a licence to explore for surface mineral substances, may erect a
tent on lands in the public domain, without prior authorization
from the Minister, provided it is required to perform mining or
exploration work. A ministerial order concerning this issue is in
effect since November 22, 2000. (Sections 66, 93 and 136
of the Québec Mining Act)
Other types of construction
In order to be granted authorization to erect a construction other
than a tent, the titleholder must meet the following terms and conditions:
The authorization shall be granted de plano:
The authorization shall be granted upon request:
- to a mining company registered in the Canadian Mines Handbook;
- to a junior company that owns more than 10 claims, and
that has filed more than $100,000 in cumulative assessment work
over the last 15 years.
In all other cases, the request for authorization shall be analyzed
by a committee formed of three representatives from the Mines sector,
namely from Géologie Québec, from the Service
des titres miniers and from the Bureau de la conversion et
des litiges miniers.
- to a prospector who has filed more than $20,000 in cumulative
assessment work over the last 15 years;
- to a company who is a partner of a company involved in Québec,
who already has authorization and whose property subject to the
construction is formed of 10 claims or less. The authorization
shall be valid for all titles held by the applicant.
Price structure for grouped data
It is now possible to take advantage of a new price
structure when ordering digital products grouped by NTS sheet or
by theme, for all of Québec.
Products grouped by NTS
The cost for the entire digital data set available for each 1:50,000 scale
NTS sheet (ex: 32C04) is $30.
As for digital products available for 1:250,000 scale map sheets
(ex: 33A), these may also be purchased at a cost of $30.
Products grouped for
all of Québec
Moreover, all digital data sets covering the entire landmass of
Québec may be purchased at a cost of $5,000.
As for the complete database of Géologie
Québec, it may be divided and sold as three distinct sub-sets,
namely the CG series data set ($2,000), the GP series geophysical
coverage ($2,000), or the rock and secondary environment geochemistry
data set including mineral potential maps ($1,000).
For more information, please contact the
Mines Services Center at 1 800 363-7233.