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- Year of renewed interest >>
- High PGE potential >>
- Mapping Côte-Nord >>
- Potential source of cement >>
- Adjustments mining regime >>
- Architectural stone >>
- Indexation, rentals and fees >>
2004: A year of renewed
interest in mining exploration
Sylvian Lacroix and Patrick Houle
The year 2004 has been one of the best in a long
time for mining exploration in Québec, for allocated investments
as well as discoveries and exploration results.
More than 200 million dollars spent on exploration
and deposit appraisal
Exploration and deposit appraisal expenditures
in Québec reached slightly more than 200 million dollars
in 2004. This represents an increase of 70 million dollars
(+ 52%) when compared with 2003. In fact, these expenditures
haven’t stopped to increase since the year 2000, when
a total of 94 million dollars had been accounted. The amount
for 2004, from a broader historical perspective, is higher
than the 173 million dollars accounted in 1997 and such
a level of exploration activity hasn’t been seen in Québec
since the end of the 1980’s.
||MRNFP, Secteur des mines, Direction du développement
minéral, Service de l’imposition et des données
minières (for data related to Québec);
Metals Economics Group (for worldwide data).
||2004P refers to preliminary data.
2005CI means companies’ intentions for 2005.
The rising trend for the worldwide exploration
budgets began in 2003 and continued on in 2004 to reach
the estimated amount of US$3.8B, in comparison with US$2.4B in 2003
and US$1.9B in 2002. However, the rise in these budgets converted
in Canadian dollars (+ 47%) has been lower than the one observed
in Québec. Consequently, the worldwide exploration budget
portion allocated to Québec’s territory has slightly
risen to 4.1%, which would rank Québec 6th among
the most explored countries in the world for 2004.
The high expenditures increase on exploration and
deposit appraisal observed in Québec for 2004 is explained
by the increase in the expenditures on precious metals (+ $41M,
+ 61%), as well as on base metals (+ $19M, + 46%)
and diamond (+ $9M, + 48%).
Highlights in exploration
Northwestern Québec has been the site of
intense mining activity due to high prices of precious and base
metals. Major advanced exploration, deposit appraisal and underground
development work was achieved in order to evaluate the possibility
of bringing into production Lapa and Goldex gold projects for
Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd., Casa-Berardi for Aurizon
Mines Ltd., East Amphi for Richmont Mines Inc.,
Fenelon for International Taurus Resources Inc.,
Sigma-Lamaque for Century Mining Corporation, Croinor
for South-Malartic Exploration Inc., and Kiena
for Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd.
Campbell Resources Inc. has announced
the beginning of operations at the Copper Rand copper and gold mine,
in Chibougamau. Drilling at the Noranda Inc. symbolically
called "Renaissance" (rebirth) property near Matagami
has intersected a new lens of massive sulphide with high zinc grades.
Partners Noranda Inc. and Alexis Minerals
Corporation have intersected 5.61% Cu, 1.70% Zn,
0.34 g/t Au and 17.6 g/t Ag over 5.16 m
on their Lac Montbray property, west of Rouyn-Noranda.
||In the Baie James area, the "Éléonore"
discovery of Virginia Gold Mines Inc. has aroused
intense interest and lead to new claim acquisitions. A major
auriferous system, with intersections such as 18.85 g/t of
gold over 16 metres, was tracked for over 300 metres
laterally and to depths of 225 metres. In the La Grande
greenstone belt, Virginia Gold Mines Inc. and
its partner Noranda Inc. have announced the
discovery of volcanic massive sulphides horizons in the DOM
(9.94% Zn, 2.12% Pb, 0.73% Cu and 96.38 g/t Ag
over 19.5 m–drillhole CN04-17) and the DOM NORD zones
(12.65% Zn, 1.54% Pb, 1.36% Cu, 125.31 g/t Ag
and 0.3 g/t Au over 4.7 m–drillhole CN-04-23)
of their Coulon property.
Nickel exploration has been particularly intense
in the Cape Smith belt where the Raglan mine is exploited since 1998.
Canadian Royalties Inc. has announced a revised
indicated resources estimate of 1.84 million tons @ 1.9% Ni,
2.3% Cu and 5.2 g/t Pt+Pd at the Mesamax deposit,
and a preliminary inferred resources estimate of 1.4 million
tons @ 0.7% Ni, 0.9% Cu and 2.7 g/t Pt+Pd at
the Mequillon deposit. Knight Resources Ltd. and
Anglo American Exploration (Canada) Ltd. have announced
several promising intersections, such as 24.5 metres @ 1.71% Ni,
0.8% Cu and 1.33 g/t Pt+Pd. Goldbrook Ventures
Inc. has also reported the discovery of new showings, where
they have obtained grades such as 1.35% Ni, 0.61% Cu and
2.88 g/t Pt+Pd over 49.35 m.
Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. and
SOQUEM INC. invested about $18M north of the Monts
Otish area in 2004, specifically for a 639 tons bulk sample
of kimberlite material from the Renard swarm. In order to evaluate
the diamond value, they are aiming at a target of 300 carats
of diamonds. The first 269 treated tons have produced a total
of 97 carats.
Prospects for 2005
Thanks to high metal prices and Québec’s
diverse mineral potential, 2005 should be as favourable as 2004,
since companies are planning to invest $201M in exploration and
deposit appraisal in Québec.
Thus, northwestern Québec, the Monts Otish
area and the Ungava Trough should remain the most explored regions
in 2005. The investments on Québec’s territory
will be helped by the exploration for gold, diamond, and nickel,
together with the diverse measures taken by the gouvernement du Québec,
such as the permanent continuation and upgrade of the flow-through
share regime, the improvement of the tax credit for resources for
junior companies, and the acquisition of geoscientific knowledge.
High PGE potential in
the Matagami area
Recent mapping fieldwork and mineral inventory
by the Department has allowed, among other things, to characterize
the platinum group elements (PGE) mineralization of the rivière Bell
Complex and to suggest exploration guides for this area. The rivière Bell area (NTS 32 F/10, 11 and 12) presents fundamental
characteristics favourable to the occurrence of rare metals of the
platinum group elements. The main showings recorded on this little
explored, huge territory already seem to indicate an association
with different geological contexts, even if they are separated by
slightly more than 10 kilometres. The possibility to discover
other sites with PGE economic grades in the area remain therefore
||The rivière Bell Complex is a large magmatic intrusion (20 km
by 65 km) located on both sides of this river in the Matagami
area. As early as the first mapping fieldwork of the 1930’s,
geologists have compared this intrusion to the Bushveld of South
Africa. The rivière Bell Complex is known for its association
with the zinc-, copper- and silver-bearing massive sulphide
deposits of Matagami. Moreover, showings of copper, nickel,
vanadiferous magnetite, and titanium also occur in this intrusion
(figure 1). The discovery of the first
two PGE showings in the area by SOQUEM goes back to the beginning
of the 1990’s. The showings are Ebay, BWest and Dotcom.
Table 1: List of the three
PGE showings of the Bell River Complex
||The recent mapping fieldwork by the Department and exploration
activities by the industry have shown that these showings correspond
to three mineralization types, including the two so-called classic
types. The Ebay showing corresponds to the stratiform type formed
by a PGE-enriched magma. Some levels, such as the extension
of this showing, are worth prospecting with the hope of finding
other enriched zones. The best showing is associated with a
| This type of structure is frequently PGE-enriched like the
Shear Ore of the Lac des Iles deposit. The Dotcom showing is
associated with the intrusion breccia type. The geochemistry
of this rock indicates that it is a distinct intrusion which
can also be found outside the Complex.
1. Location of PGE in the rivière Bell Complex near Matagami, and
distribution of the other mineralized showings associated with this
The PGE in the world
PGE are rare metals grouping together platinum,
palladium, rhodium, ruthenium, iridium and osmium. These metals
are corrosion resistant and their melting point is very high. The
production of car catalysts is one of the main uses for PGE. Moreover,
PGE are in demand for electrical applications, manufacturing of
laboratory crucibles and numismatic coinage (collector coinage),
dentistry and jewellery. At the moment, palladium, platinum and
rhodium are worth respectively less than half, twice and three times
the gold price.
South Africa and Russia are the main producers
of PGE. Canada and the United States are lesser producers. PGE are
found in primary deposits or as by-products of copper and nickel
deposits such as Raglan in Nord-du-Québec or Sudbury in
Ontario. Primary PGE deposits are divided in two categories: stratiform
or intrusion breccia. Stratiform deposits are associated with large
magmatic intrusions and form the most important PGE deposits in
the world, such as those found in the Bushveld intrusion of South
Africa. Deposits associated with intrusion breccias are linked to
much smaller intrusions. The intrusion breccia type Lac des Iles
deposit north of Thunder Bay, Ontario, is the only primary PGE mine
in North America.
in the Côte-Nord (North Shore) area
Department survey creates interest among mining companies
During the summer of 2004, the Department carried
out geological mapping in the watersheds of the Outardes and Manicouagan
Rivers north of Baie-Comeau (NTS 22F/10 – lac Varin). The
project is part of a wide program of geological mapping aimed at
improving knowledge of the mineral potential of the Côte-Nord
area, thereby favoring the diversification of its economy.
The area is underlain mainly by anorthosites and
related rocks belonging to the Grenville geological province, which
covers most of the Côte-Nord region. The Grenville is well
known for its titanium and iron potential, which is best demonstrated
by the Lac Tio deposit located north of Havre-Saint-Pierre. The
Grenville also has excellent potential for base metals, such as
copper, nickel, and cobalt, and for dimension stone, which is currently
experiencing strong growth in Québec.
During this survey, several mineral occurrences
were discovered in rocks belonging to the Vallant Anorthositic Suite.
A dozen new iron and titanium (ilmenite) showings
have been added to those already known in the area; half of them
are enriched in phosphorus (apatite).
magnetite–ilmenite (Fe–Ti) showing hosted in leuconorite.
(Fe–Ti–P) showing located on an island in the
Two new copper-nickel showings in anorthosite of
the Vallant Suite are unusual in that they do not appear to be associated
with mafic or ultramafic rocks, which are the typical hosts for
these metals. These discoveries thus open up a new exploration approach
for such deposits.
Several occurrences of granitic dimension stone
have been found in the Vallant Anorthositic Suite and in the Varin
Plutonic Suite. The quality and size of the resource in these sites
remain to be determined. It should be noted that Autoroute 389, secondary
roads, and numerous forest roads provide easy access to the area.
Titanium: In oxide form, it is
used as a pigment in paint and as an additive in plastics, paper,
and medicines. It is used in alloys for planes and missiles. It
is found in golf clubs, bicycles, portable computers, and prostheses.
It is often used as a catalyzer, for example, in the polymerization
Phosphorus: It is an ingredient
in chemical fertilizers (phosphates), fireworks, matches, toothpaste,
and cleaning agents. It is used as a nutritional additive in cheese
and as an additive in lubricants. It can be found, among other places,
in delicatessen products, soft drinks, yeast, and condensed milk.
Discovery of a potential
source of cement stone in the Percé area
A large limestone deposit, considered to be a promising
resource of cement stone, has been discovered in the Percé
area. This deposit was found during work on industrial minerals
and construction materials carried out by the Ministère des
Ressources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parcs. The results were
revealed during Québec Exploration 2004, held in
Québec from November 22 to 25, 2004.
A summary evaluation of the limestone indicates
grades of CaO (48–50%), Na2O+K2O (< 0.6%),
MgO (< 2.5%), S (< 0.2%), and Cl (< 30 ppm)
that satisfy the requirements of the cement industry. Easily accessible
resources are estimated at several hundreds of millions of tonnes.
In addition, the potentially exploitable limestone units are located
a few kilometers from the coast and near a railway.
Nature of the work
During the summer of 2004, the Ministère
des Ressources naturelles, de la Faune et des Parcs updated the
inventory of quarries in the Bas-Saint-Laurent and Gaspésie
regions. At the same time, a summary evaluation of the composition
of White Head Formation limestone was carried out in order to check
the potential of the sequence for cement production. The Nouvelle,
Chandler, and Percé sectors were chosen because, in these
areas, the formation outcrops fairly close to the coast, thereby
increasing the likelihood of production (PDF Format,
131 Kb - Available in French). Hand sampling was carried
out on a limited number (25) of outcrops. As the White Head limestone
sequence is composed of thin limestone beds alternating with mudstone
beds, the analyzed samples contain, unless otherwise noted, representative
proportions of the two lithologies (PDF Format,
19,3 Kb - Available in French).
In the Percé area, the White Head Formation
outcrops in a mountainous corridor about 1.5 km wide that
crosses the region in a northwest-southeast direction (PDF Format, 587 Kb
- Available in French). The formation is divided into
four members. The Burmingham, Irlande, and Des Jean members
distinguish the formation. They are composed mainly of thin
calcilutite beds and friable mudstone interbeds. (photo 1)
The Côte de la Surprise Member is a mudstone marker
horizon separating the Burmingham and Irlande members.
appearance of the White Head Formation, Cap Blanc quarry.
Resistant calcilutite beds alternate with friable mudstone
Samples from four quarries have been analyzed.
The results have been used to estimate the composition of the Irlande
and Des Jean members. According to the results, these units have
similar chemical compositions, with a CaO grade of about 50% (PDF Format,
19,3 Kb - Available in French). In addition, the alkali-element,
magnesium, sulfur, and chlorine concentrations are suitable for
the cement industry. It is noteworthy that the two units constitute
a limestone sequence whose stratigraphic thickness is estimated
at more than 600 m (Kirkwood, 1989). The Burmingham Member,
located at the base of the White Head and about 140 m thick,
was not analyzed. However, it compares lithologically to the upper
limestone units, and it is likely that its composition is also suitable.
Chandler and Nouvelle areas
In the Chandler and Nouvelle areas, the White
Head Formation appears to be distinctly less calcareous than
at Percé. Most commonly, the formation is banded and
composed of limestone beds and argillaceous interbeds, which
are welded together producing a massive sequence. The analytical
results show that the CaO grade is generally less than 40%
19,3 Kb - Available in French). In the Nouvelle
area, a grab sample from a calcilutite bed gave a CaO grade
facies of the White Head Formation in the Chandler region.
An adequate evaluation of the potential of these
areas would require more detailed work. Stratigraphic horizons richer
in carbonate should be sought.
Kirkwood, D., 1989. Géologie de la région
de Percé. Ministère de l’Énergie et des
Ressources, Québec; ET 87-17, 33 pages.
Adjustments for an
even more efficient mining regime
Direction du développement minéral
The nature of recent changes to the Mining Act
(R.S.Q., c. M-13.1) requires modifications to the present
Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum, natural
gas and brine (R.S.Q., c. M-13.1, r.2). The Act to amend
the Mining Act, sanctioned December 18, 2003, aims mainly
to reduce, in a progressive manner, staking parks in Québec.
Staking parks are areas in which a claim is acquired by ground staking.
Henceforth, a person will be able to acquire a claim in a staking
park by map designation if that person possesses a declaration signed
by neighbouring title holders establishing that no possibility of
conflict exists. The progressive elimination of staking parks will
in the end reduce the cost to the mining industry of mining title
acquisition. Moreover, another modification will permit a holder
to request the amalgamation of designated claims located within
the same cell in order to facilitate the management of mining titles
in the new system of map designation. In a different context, municipalities
and intermunicipal boards will henceforth be able to obtain an exclusive
mining lease (notably for sand and gravel) for the construction
and maintenance of their streets and road networks.
Furthermore, other measures in the present regulation
have to be revised in order to simplify the requirements imposed
on the mining industry. Finally, new statutory powers aimed at specifying
the technical details of claim amalgamation or replacement have
The new statutory measures that should be in force
on March 3, 2005 concern:
- the documents and information that must accompany a notice
of map designation within a staking park;
- the documents and information that the request for claim amalgamation
or replacement must contain in order to ensure the security of
the various titles, as well as the technical rules allowing adjustments
to be made concerning, among other things, the periods of validity
and the amount of work to be accomplished following amalgamation
- measures favoring the conversion of staked claims located north
of latitude 52° as well as a measure requiring an agreement
between the holders of staked claims located less than 400 metres
from the mining right to be converted into map-designated claims;
- the addition, as a condition of concluding or renewing a mining
lease for surface mineral substances, that the applicant not be
in default in the production of his declarations or in the payment
of royalties for each of the leases he holds;
- the filing of a five-year plan for the construction, repairing,
and maintenance of streets and the road network by a municipality
or an intermunicipal board for the acquisition of an exclusive
mining lease for surface mineral substances;
- the replacement of the requirement to survey by the possibility
of locating the site of a tailings park using the UTM coordinate
system, much less costly, when this site is located on land covered
by an exclusive mining lease for surface mineral substances;
- various modifications to harmonize with the Mining Act,
the Geologists Act, and the Forest Act.
These new statutory measures will permit us to
maintain and increase Québec’s attractiveness relative
to mining regimes elsewhere, in particular by improving the method
of obtaining a map-designated claim.
Architectural stone in
Come and visit our Website!
The Department has recently put online a Website
entirely dedicated to architectural stone in Québec. This
new tool gathers together a large amount of information on exploration
and quarrying of architectural stone in Québec, including
the different projects, the main quarries and the multiple varieties
quarried in Québec.
You can consult this Website at the following address:
1, 2005: indexation of rights, rentals and fees
As of April 1, 2005, all rights, rentals and fees
shall be increased by 4.6%, in accordance with section 145 of the
Regulation respecting mineral substances other than petroleum,
natural gas and brine. This increase corresponds to the change
in the general Consumer Price Index in Canada between 2002