• A great place to explore
  • Géologie Québec innovates
  • Superior Province
  • Base Metals in Abitibi
  • Geological Heritage
  • Payment facilities

Québec: a great place to explore!

Sylvain Lacroix
Direction de la politique et de l’économie minérales

Québec has a unique position in the world of mineral exploration. Many different factors underlie its excellent investment climate.

Québec: an attractive prospect

Québec is widely recognized as one of the best places in the world for mineral exploration. It is the only mining jurisdiction in Canada to have ranked repeatedly in the top five (1st in 2001, 2nd in 2002 and 4th in 2003) in terms of its attractiveness for investors in the field of mineral exploration, based on the three last annual surveys of the industry by the Fraser Institute.

In addition, exploration and development expenditure in Québec has increased by 42% since 2000, reaching $134 million in 2003. Compared to the total world exploration budget of US$2.4 billion, estimated by the Metals Economics Group, Québec attracted 4% of all investment (Figure 1) and ranked as the 7th most explored mining jurisdiction in the world (compared to 10th in 2000).

Source : Natural Resources Canada (Final data 2003) and revised spendings intentions (2004)

Québec is the Canadian mining jurisdiction where the most exploration discoveries, financed by flow-through shares, have been made since 2000, according to a study by the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada published in 2003 (Format PDF, 82,2 Ko). According to this study, five of the seventeen discoveries made in Québec have production potential (Lapa and El Coco by Agnico-Eagle, Pandora by Queenston Mining and the Mesamax and TK zones by Canadian Royalties), besides the discovery of the Renard diamond-bearing kimberlites by Ashton Mining of Canada and SOQUEM.

What conditions do mining companies need?

Mineral exploration is a high-risk activity. Worldwide budgets are linked to the profitability of the mining industry, itself dependent on the economic context and, more specifically, the prices for metals and other mineral substances. Although worldwide exploration budgets began to rise in 2003, the total investment (US$2.4 billion) is still well below the level in 1997 (US$5.2 billion). Since 1990, many more countries have opened their borders to mining exploration, and there is keen competition to attract the investment that leads to mining development.

In this cyclical and competitive context, mining companies prefer to focus exploration investment in regions that offer both promising mineral potential and a favourable business climate. Mineral potential, clearly, constitutes the key element in a given jurisdiction, However, the business climate is also important, since the economic and regulatory conditions in which companies work may affect not only the effectiveness of their exploration work, but also the legal framework for and profitability of any resulting operations. In short, all companies seek to maximize the probability of making a valuable discovery, their ultimate goal, while minimizing the risks inherent in exploration activities.

Why choose Québec?

An attractive territory and enviable business climate

Québec is recognized as one of the best places in the world for mineral exploration because it has both an attractive territory and an enviable business climate. The balanced investment climate in Québec is illustrated in Figure 2, which shows each of the ten most attractive mining jurisdictions for exploration investment in 2003, ranked according to the relative attractiveness of their mineral potential and government policies.

Ten specific factors

A territory is considered attractive, and a business climate is considered favourable by the mining industry, on the basis of several specific factors. Listed below are the ten specific factors that help make Québec one of the best places in the world for mineral exploration:

  • An attractive territory
    1. A steady rate of major discoveries
    2. A major past production, with world class deposits
    3. A rich and diversified current mining production
    4. A vast, little explored and open territory
    5. Great geoscience infrastructure
  • An enviable business climate
    1. A reliable and modern mining regime
    2. A territory well served by transportation and energy infrastructures
    3. Great access to venture capital
    4. Generous tax incentives
    5. Partnerships for sustainable development

The presentation Why Québec is a hot place for exploration, given on March 10, 2004 at the convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, gives more details on each of these themes. All the slides used in the presentation (in Power Point format) and the spoken text (in Word format) are available on the MRNFP website.

Highlighting Québec’s mineral potential
Géologie Québec innovates again!

During Québec Exploration 2004, geologists from Géologie Québec will present some of the discoveries made during the 2004 season, together with recent cartographical work, in the form of interactive multimedia sessions. This will be a unique opportunity to discuss these topics!

The sessions will focus in particular on:

  • new metallogenic, geological and metamorphic news from the Grenville Front;
  • nickel in the Labrador Trough, Ungava and other areas in Québec;
  • new information on the Blake River Group.

Other sessions will offer participants an opportunity to familiarize themselves with new legislative and fiscal measures in Québec, and to learn more about cooperation between various government authorities in connection with geology.

Register now, space is limited!

Towards a better understanding of the Superior Province

Robert Marquis
Géologie Québec

Figure 1 : The Superior Province is a vast region whose specific geological characteristics make it especially attractive for mineral exploration. This map of the Superior Province shows the main subdivisions, which include the Abitibi sub-province, the La Grande sub-province and the Grenville Front.

The Superior Province is a vast region whose specific geological characteristics make it especially attractive for mineral exploration (Figure 1). It contains large areas of ancient volcanic rock over 2,700,000,000 years old likely to contain gold, copper and zinc deposits, magmatic rock rich in nickel and platinum, Algoma-type iron formations, and diamond-bearing kimberlite bodies from a more recent period than the volcanic rock.

This year, Québec Exploration 2004 will include a technical session that will look specifically at the Superior Province. Speakers from Québec, Ontario and Manitoba will discuss the geological evolution, detailed internal structure and mineral potential of this geological province. The traditional focus on Québec and Ontario will be extended to include Manitoba, offering participants a technical session that will cover the whole of the Superior Province. The topics covered will include different types of mineralization, especially orogenic gold deposits, internal subdivisions and the nature of contact with adjacent geological provinces.

Historical background

Québec and Ontario have worked together to disseminate geological knowledge about the Superior Province for over 20 years. In 1984, the first geological map covering the entire Abitibi greenstone belt to a scale of 1/500 000 was published jointly by the Québec department of Energy and Resources and the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS). At the time, the focus was on the Abitibi greenstone belt (Figure 2) because of its high concentration of rich metal deposits, in production since the early 20th century.

Figure 2 : The Abitibi greenstone belt is especially important from an economic point of view, because of its high concentration of rich metal deposits, in production since the early 20th century. This photo shows the types of transportation used to gain access to the remotest areas.

In 2000, Québec and Ontario also collaborated to present a special technical session devoted to the Abitibi greenstone belt and adjacent areas in the Superior Province. This technical session was given in Québec as part of the annual information seminar on geological research. Later, fourteen scientific papers derived from the technical sessionwere published in a special issue of the journal Precambrian Research for 2002, co-edited by W. U. Mueller (Université du Québec à Chicoutimi), R. Marquis (Ministère des Ressources naturelles de la Faune et des Parcs) and P. Thurston (OGS).

In Québec, between 1995 and 2002, a detailed mapping program at a scale of 1/50 000 was carried out in the Baie James area (Figures 3 and 4) to improve the cartographical, geochronological and metallogenic data available, and to create a new overview for the sectors of the La Grande and Eastmain rivers, two regions of the Superior Province with strong mineral potential.

Figure 3 : A geologist crosses a gigantic rocky outcrop in the Baie James area, in the promising exploration sector of the Rivière Eastmain.
Figure 4 : In the Baie James area, the detailed 1/50 000 mapping program required the sampling and analysis of many different rock samples, carefully selected for their geological characteristics and economic potential.

During the same period, between 1998 and 2003, Québec conducted an ambitious mapping program of the eastern section of the Superior Province, to the north of Baie James. The program, known as “Projet Grand Nord”, led to completion of map coverage at a scale of 1/250 000 and the initial metallogenic reconnaissance of northern part of Québec (Figures 5 and 6). In addition to opening up new areas for mineral exploration, this extensive program to acquire new knowledge allowed considerable progress to be made in terms of the geological understanding of northern lands. Rocks among the oldest in the world were discovered along the Hudson Bay shoreline, and several thematic projects were conducted in partnership with the Université du Québec à Montréal, McGill University, Simon Fraser University and the Geological Survey of Canada. The scope and complexity of the program mobilized practically all the human and financial resources of Géologie Québec. Currently, several geologists are still working to assemble all the information gathered during the project.

Figure 5 :The “Projet Grand Nord” led to completion of map coverage at a scale of 1/250 000 and the initial metallogenic reconnaissance of Nord-du-Québec. In this photo, one of the department’s geologists carries out observations in the field, to the north of the tree line.
Figure 6 : The “Projet Grand Nord” opened up new areas for mineral exploration. This photo shows a temporary summer camp, set up for 10 weeks to house an 18 member geological team.

Figure 7 : In the Chibougamau sector, the current program of work is intended to gather more precise information about the contact between the Superior Province and the Grenville Province. In this photo, a group of geologists discusses the economic potential of the outcrop in the foreground.

A continually renewed approach

In 2003, detailed work at a scale of 1/50 000 was carried out in the Chibougamau sector (Figure 7), giving a more precise view of the t pe of contact between the southern edge of the Superior Province and the Grenville Province, an ancient, highly eroded mountain range that brings to the surface rocks formed deep in the earth’s crust.

In the Abitibi greenstone belt, in both Québec and Ontario, current work involves compiling the data needed to update the 1984 Ontario-Québec map and completing targeted cartographical projects and highly detailed metallogenic overviews of various mining camps (Figure 8). In Québec, as part of the metallogenic overviews, special attention is paid to integrating public databases, allowing 3D modelling in partnership with the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue that proves extremely useful in determining new exploration targets.

Figure 8 : In the Abitibi greenstone belt, highly detailed metallogenic overviews integrate public databases containing information from a number of mining camps and 3D modelling, especially useful for determining new exploration targets. A young geologist from the department shows a detailed geological map to colleagues from the mining industry.

In addition to a technical session to look specifically at the Superior Province, Québec Exploration 2004 will include two multimedia workshops to present results from detailed surveys carried out by MRNFP geologists. The workshops will be conducted by the MRNFP geologists responsible for each project. The first workshop will examine recent discoveries in the Rouyn-Noranda region, where the Blake River Group is under intensive scrutiny to identify new sources of copper ore. The second workshop will deal with the Chibougamau area, and more specifically will look at mineral potential on the Grenville Front, the boundary between the Superior Province and the younger Grenville Province.

You are warmly invited to attend these interactive workshops.


1994, Géologie du Québec, Les publications du Québec, pages 7 to 46.

2002, Evolution of the Archean Greenstone Belt and adjacent terranes: New Insights from Geochronology, Geochemistry, Structure and Facies Analysis, Precambrian Research, Special Issue, volume 115, 371 p.

MERQ-OGS, 1983, Carte lithostratigraphique de la sous-province de l’Abitibi : ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources du Québec/Ontario Geological Survey: 1:500 000, catalogué "DV83-16" à Québec et "Map 2484" en Ontario.

Base metals in Abitibi: a new approach to assessing potential

Daniel Lamothe1, Jean-Yves Labbé1 et Jeff Harris2
1Direction de Géologie Québec
2Geological Survey of Canada

In April 2005, Géologie Québec will publish an overview assessment of base metal potential in the Abitibi sub-province and the Frotet-Evans belt. This large-scale survey covers all the Archean volcanic rock located between the 47th and 51st degrees of latitude. This is the first time in Québec that an area of this size has been studied, with such a large range of integrated data and such high-resolution treatment. The survey was a joint undertaking by the authors and resident geologists in Abitibi, and is intended to define and document a number of target areas in the territory covered that offer the most potential for new discoveries.

Figure 1 – Area covered by the assessment of base metal potential in the Abitibi region.

With this study, Géologie Québec hopes to contribute to the discovery of new copper deposits that will compensate, in the medium term, for the exhaustion of mineral reserves in several mining camps. The final assessment will include a 1/500 000 map of the sector, together with roughly 130 1/50 000 maps produced using ArcGIS software and available on DVD in PDF format. Intermediate products in digital format will also be available, such as a lithological map of Abitibi using closed polygons, based on the 1/20 000 and 1/50 000 maps available for the sector as a whole.

An innovative approach

The methodology uses a conceptual approach based on a metallogenic model for volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits. In this approach, all the geological, geo-chemical and geophysical parameters connected to the presence of VMS-type mineral deposits are processed using a flowchart known as an “inference model” (Figure 2). The modeller controls the final outcome of the process by determining, at each stage, the evolution and parameters of the model based on the modeller’s understanding of the role played by each.

Figure 2 – Inference model showing all the parameters used to assess VSM-type mineral potential.

This type of approach, however, has an inherent weakness since the weighting (“importance”) of each parameter is fixed in an entirely subjective way by the modeller. To compensate for this arbitrary aspect of the process, the weighting of each parameter has been determined by a statistical calculation for spatial association with 399 known VSM deposits in Abitibi, using the “weight of evidence” technique (Wright and Bonham-Carter, 1996; Harris et al., 2001; Bonham-Carter, 1994). The final favourability of the region studied is obtained by combining the weighted parameters using a fuzzy logic method, giving the modeller a degree of control over the outcome (Porwal et al., 2003; D’Ercole et al., 2000). Figure 3 is an example of a map showing favourability on the basis of proximity to a site where rock analysis shows anomalic Cu, Pb or Zn content. The map is one of the 17 parameters considered in assessing potential.

Figure 3 – Map showing showing favourability based on proxmity to a site where rock analysis shows anomalic Cu, Pb or Zn content in the Rouyn-Noranda region. The favourability calculation for this parameter is made by the WofE module in ArcSDM. The result is converted into fuzzy values (between 0 and 1) to allow the map to be combined with the 16 other parameters in the VMS model.

Exploration 2004: Concepts and methodology

A workshop, presented jointly by the author and Jeff Harris, is one of the events programmed at Québec Exploration 2004. Various concepts relating to the assessment of potential based on data integration will be discussed, using specific examples from the current assessment in the Abitibi region. The workshop will provide an ideal opportunity to meet the authors of the study and obtain more information on the methodology used and other possible applications for mineral exploration in Abitibi and elsewhere.


Bonham-Carter, G. E, 1994, Geographic Information Systems for geoscientists-modeling with GIS: Pergamon, New York, 398 pages.

D'Ercole, C. - Groves, D.I. and Knox-Robinson, C.M., 2000, Using fuzzy logic in a Geographic Information System environment to enhance conceptually based prospectivity analysis of Mississippi Valley-type mineralisation, Australian Journal of Earth Sciences, No 47, pages 913-927.

Harris, J.R. Wilkinson, L. Heather, K. Fumerton, S. Bernier, M.A. Ayer, J. and Dahn, R., 2001, Application of GIS processing Techniques for Producing Mineral Prospectivity Maps – A Case Study: Mesothermal Au in the Swayze Greenstone Belt, Ontario, Canada, Natural Resources Research, Vol. 10, No 2, pages 91-124.

Porwal A. Carranza, E.J.M. and Hale, M., 2003, Knowledge-driven and Data-driven Fuzzy models for redictive Mineral Potential Mapping, Natural Resources Research, Vol. 12, No 1, pages 1-25.

Wright, D. E, and Bonham-Carter, G. E, 1996, VHMS favourability mapping with GIS-based integration models, Chisel Lake-Anderson Lake Area, in Bonham-Carter, G. E, Galley, A. G., and Hall, G. E. M., eds, EXTECH J: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Massive Sulphide Research in the Rusty Lake-Snow Lake Greenstone Belts, Manitoba, Geol. Survey Canada Bull. 426, pages 339-376, 387-401.

2nd Conference on the Geological Heritage of Québec
Geological heritage: a treasure!

The 2nd Conference on the Geological Heritage of Québec will be held in Québec on November 26, 2004, based on the theme Geological heritage: a treasure! * Members of the working group will present new proposals, and the participants will be able to discuss upcoming stages in the designation and promotion of outstanding geological sites.

The posters and papers presented during the conference will deal with themes related to outstanding geological sites, as set out in the Québec strategy on protected areas, legal recognition for outstanding geological sites, preservation of the geological heritage and public awareness and, last, the development of tourism in relation to outstanding geological sites. The participants in the conference will also be invited to attend a lunch seminar during which Jacques Avoine, conservator of the Cap Romain nature reserve in Brittany, France, and president of the commission on the geological heritage of France’s nature reserves, will talk about the protection of France’s geological heritage.

If you wish to attend the conference or need more information, please visit the website Québec Exploration 2004.

You can also contact:

M. Pierre Verpaelst
Phone: (418) 627-6276, poste 5009
E-mail: pierre.verpaelst@mrn.gouv.qc.ca


M. Serge Perreault
Phone: (514) 873-8814, poste 291
E-mail: serge.perreault@mrn.gouv.qc.ca

*The working group on Québec’s geological heritage is made up of representatives from the following organizations:

  • Québec Mineral Exploration Association;
  • Québec Mining Association;
  • Ordre des géologues du Québec;
  • Conférence des directeurs des départements de géologie des universités du Québec;
  • Ministère des Ressources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parcs.

New: improved payment facilities for mining transactions

With its constant focus on improving client services, Géologie Québec has introduced new payment facilities. It is now possible to pay for transactions and purchases in all regional mining offices in Québec using a credit card or debit card. For more information, please contact Ronald Savard at (418) 627-6278, extension 5290.