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