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Exploration - On target! >>
- Uranium: a breath
of optimism >>
of Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization in the Cape Smith Belt >>
- Gold mineralizaton:
New data from the Urban-Barry >>
- GESTIM Plus - an
improved version for our clients >>
- The latest news about obtaining geochemical analyses >>
Exploration - On target!
A key meeting with the leaders of mineral exploration
In the program:
- The most promising regions and showings in Québec and
elsewhere in Canada
- The best investment opportunities
- The latest discoveries and exclusive announcements
- New metallogenic models and cutting-edge exploration techniques
- The latest progress in oil and gas exploration in Québec
- A portrait of the architectural stone industry: exploration,
operation and processing
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a breath of optimism
Serge Perreault, Resident Geologist
Service de Géologie Québec
- Uranium deposits in Québec
- Québec's potential
- History of uranium economics
- World production of uranium
Québec’s mining industry is showing
a renewed interest for uranium after 22 years of relative inactivity.
Although most uranium production is concentrated in Saskatchewan
and the majority of exploration expenditures are focused in that
province, Québec still represents a promising territory for
uranium exploration. The mineral exploration work that has covered
large expanses of the province has only limited significance for
current uranium exploration due to the lack of radiometric, geochemical
and geological data relevant to the commodity. However, thanks to
a recent geochemical survey of lake bottom sediment in the Far North,
a mapping project in the northern part of the Superior Province,
and judicial use of the SIGEOM database, it is now possible to plan
field exploration programs for territories that were never examined
in the 1960’s and 70’s.
deposits in Québec
Québec experienced two waves of
exploration for uranium. The first took place in the 1950’s
and 1960’s and was accompanied by the completion
of large regional airborne radiometric surveys by the Geological
Survey of Canada. These surveys only covered southern Québec.
The second period began in the mid-1970’s and ended
in the early 1980’s. Since then, exploration for
uranium has practically ceased. Beginning in the fall of 2004,
known uranium deposits aroused the interest of several junior
and senior companies that had returned to Québec.
In Québec, several types of uranium
deposits are known (Clark and Wares, 2004; Sidex 2004;
SIGEOM-Gîtes; Boily and Gosselin, 2004; Gosselin et
al., 2003; Masse, 1974):
(Format PDF, 177 Kb)
- Sandstone-hosted stratiform deposits of sedimentary origin
(Sakami Formation [e.g., Lac Gayot (Fearless One) and Lac Bert
deposits]; Chioak Group in the Labrador Trough [e.g., Chioak showing]);
- Unconformity-related deposits, like those of the Athabaska
Basin (e.g., Rivière Camie and Lac du Castor deposits in
the Otish Basin);
- Epithermal vein-type deposits with copper and/or associated
with albitization (e.g., Sagar showing, in the Labrador Trough);
- Uranium–gold deposits in conglomerates, like those of
Elliot Lake in Ontario (Apple Formation in the Superior Province);
- Iron oxide-type with uranium, copper and gold associations,
like Olympic Dam in Australia (e.g., Nipissis [Kwijibo] showings
on the North Shore);
- Deposits associated with pegmatites and granitoids (e.g., Grenville
Province showings in the Mont-Laurier–Grand-Remous region
and the Baie-Johan-Beetz and Aguanish, regions on the Côte-Nord);
- Palabora-type deposits associated with carbonatites or alkaline
igneous complexes (e.g., the Oka carbonatite or the Strange Lake
deposit in the alkaline complex of Lac Brisson)
Most of the showings worked between the 1960’s
and 1980’s did not turn out to be economical. Nonetheless,
a potential for economic uranium deposits definitely does exist
- The Paleoproterozoic sedimentary rocks in the Bassin Otish,
Sakami Formation and those bordering the Labrador Trough (Chioak
Group) represent highly favourable zones for unconformity-type
(Athabaska-type) and stratiform sandstone hosted-type deposits.
It would thus be interesting to also evaluate the potential of
the Wakeham Group in the Grenville Province.
- The Labrador Trough is a perfect example for vein-type deposits
associated with albitization. The potential for the Ungava Orogen
(Ungava Trough) and the Grenville Province are still to be determined.
- Deposits associated with pegmatites (alaskites) and Rossing-type
(Namibia) peraluminous granitoids are well known in the Grenville
Province and examples are also documented in the Superior Province.
It would be interesting to know if any are present in the Core
Zone (hinterland) between the eastern limits of the Labrador Trough
and the Torngat Orogen. The presence of migmatized metasediments,
a trail of sizeable granitic intrusions (e.g., the De Pas batholith),
and uraniferous anomalies in lake bottom sediments warrant further
investigation of this extensive territory.
- With respect to the uranium potential in the Appalachians,
only a few showings are known (e.g., Saint-Armand and Sainte-Anne-du-Lac
near Thetford-Mines). However, this geological province warrants
further attention due to its position near major transport infrastructures
and North American markets.
- Finally, there may be a potential for uranium deposits associated
with felsic volcanic rocks with subalkaline to hyperalkaline affinities
(e.g., Michelin deposit in Labrador). The Wakeham Group (Grenville
Province), some of the volcanic units in the Nouveau-Québec
Orogen and the Appalachians represent target areas for this type
History of uranium economics
The great depression experienced by the uranium
market can be attributed to a number of factors, including the major
accidents at nuclear facilities in the United States (1970) and
the ex-USSR (1986) that slowed or completely halted the construction
of new nuclear facilities in these and several other industrialized
countries. New supply sources of secondary plutonium and uranium
made their appearance on the market in the 1990’s following
the nuclear disarmament of the two superpowers, the recycling of
uranium and plutonium fuel rods, and the liquidation of uranium
inventories (Comb, 2004; World Nuclear Association, October 2004).
Between 1970 and 1984, the uranium market was dominated
by a primary production that exceeded the needs of nuclear reactors.
The production was based on erroneous forecasts of a sharp increase
in nuclear energy production (Sidex, 2004). Right up until 1990,
the primary production of uranium oxide (U3O8)
largely exceeded demand. After 1990, U3O8
production declined in proportion to demand (Comb, 2004), and stockpiles
were even liquidated between 1985 and 2003.
Starting about two years ago, the spot price for
U3O8 increased dramatically to attain US$30/lb
in October 2003 (source: Ux Weekly; Bonnel and Chapman, 2005).
It was in 1976-1977 that the price of U3O8
attained its historic high at just over US$100/lb (price in 2004
dollars or ~ US$43/lb in current dollars). This high was followed
by a rapid decline, beginning in 1980, to bottom out at under
US$8/lb in 2001. Spot prices account for about 15% of the uranium
market, whereas 85% of transactions are carried out in the form
of long-term contracts, generally at a higher cost than the spot
price (Sidex, 2004).
In the years since the Kyoto summit, prominent
industrialized countries have made efforts to reduce their greenhouse
gas emissions, which are partly responsible for the climate changes
noted by scientists for over a century. With the exception of hydro-electricity,
solar energy and wind energy, nuclear energy releases the least
amount of greenhouse gases compared to fossil fuels (World Nuclear
Association, February 2005). In order to meet their Kyoto commitments
and reduce their dependence on oil and natural gas to meet their
energy needs, many industrialized countries have decided to construct
new nuclear power plants. Furthermore a rising demand in energy
needs by emerging countries like China, India and some in southeast
Asia, the progressive depletion of several currently mined deposits
is anticipated shortage between now and the next 10 to 15 years.
The current production of primary uranium represents 55% of the
needs of operating nuclear reactors (World Nuclear Association,
October 2004). Collectively, these are the necessary ingredients
for an upsurge of uranium spot prices, which would lead to a renewed
interest on the part of mining companies to dedicate some of their
exploration expenditures for uranium.
World production of uranium attained 36,300 tonnes
in 2003 (Bonel, 2005). World reserves for ore with a production
cost of less than US$40/kg are estimated at nearly 2 Mt uranium,
representing more than a 30-year supply for existing reactors (Sidex,
2004). The Canadian production for 2004 amounts to 13,676 tonnes
of U3O8 concentrate and is equivalent to 30%
of world production. This production is evaluated at CA$800 million.
Uranium resources with low production costs (Reasonably Assured
Resources and Category I Estimated Additional Resources) amount
to 590,000 tonnes U3O8 and corresponds
to 12% of world production. For comparison, global reserves with
low production costs are twice that of Canadian reserves. Canadian
production comes entirely from Saskatchewan (Athabaska Basin). In 2003,
about $13 million dedicated to off-site mineral exploration,
mainly in Saskatchewan (World Nuclear Association, August 2005).
At the present time, Québec does not produce uranium.
Bonel, K.A., 2005. Uranium, In World metals
and minerals review 2005, éditeurs Metal Bulletin, British
Geological Survey and Industrial Minerals, p. 293-297.
Clark, T. and Wares, R. 2004. Synthèse
lithotectonique et métallogénique de l’Orogène
du Nouveau-Québec (Fosse du Labrador), Ministère
des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Québec; MM 2004-01,
Comb, J., 2004. Fueling the future: A new paradigm
assuring uranium supplies in an abnormal market, World Nuclear
Association Annual Symposium, September 8-10 2004, London,
Boily. M. and Gosselin, C., 2004. Les principaux
types de minéralisations en métaux rares (Y-Zr-Nb-Ta-Li-Be-ETR)
au Québec, Ministère des Ressources naturelles
et de la Faune, Québec, ET 2004-01, 41 p.
Gosselin, C. and collaborators, 2003. Rare
metals mineralizations in Québec (Y-Zr-Nb-Ta-Li-Be-ETR),
Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Québec,
Masse, J.P., 1974. L’uranium au Québec,
Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Québec;
GM 51690, 88 p.
SIDEX, 2004. Exploring for uranium in Québec,
SIDEX Diversification Bulletin, November 2004, 12 p.
World Nuclear Association, 2004. Uranium markets,
October 2004, 5 p.
World Nuclear Association, 2005. Sustainable
Energy, February 2005, 5 p.
World Nuclear Association, 2005. Canada’s
uranium production and nuclear power, August 2005, 8 p.
Other suggested readings on uranium deposit
types in Canada and the world:
Geology of Canadian Mineral Deposit Types,
edited by O.R. Eckstrand, W.D. Sinclair and R.I. Thorpe, Geological
Survey of Canada, Geology of Canada, no. 8, 1996. See sections 1.1,
1.2, 7, 8.1, 12, 13, 14, 21 and 22.
Dahlkamp, F.J., 1993. Uranium ore deposits.
Springer-Verlag, New-York Berlin Heidelberg; 460 pages.
of Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization in the Cape Smith Belt
(Ungava Orogen): avenues of exploration
Daniel Bandayayera and Abdelali Moukhsil
Direction de Géologie Québec
The Cape Smith Belt offers exceptional mineral
potential. This area of North of Québec is the target of
an ever-increasing number of exploration activities. The most recent
results obtained by exploration companies confirm the excellent
potential for discovering of new Ni-Cu-PGE showings. Until now,
exploration was mainly concentrated in the southern part of the
belt. Other more northern sectors, however, also deserve to be explored.
With this in mind, the Department recently defined the geological
trends for each part of the Cape Smith Belt (Raglan Trend).
|The distribution of Ni-Cu-PGE mineralization in the Raglan
Trend displays two distinct sub-trends: north and south. The
north trend is clearly richer in nickel than the south trend,
but the latter contains higher levels of platinum and palladium.
The trends also display different Ni/Cu ratios, with values
of about 1 for the south trend and values ranging from 2
to 54 for the north trend. It is reasonable to assume that
mineralized occurrences within the two trends were not fed by
the same feeder dyke system. The magmas associated with the
north trend are more primitive than those associated with the
||The north trend consists of Ni-Cu-PGE showings
along the Raglan horizon located at the interface between the
Povugnituk and Chukotat groups. It includes a string of 19 massive
sulphide lenses of which the most important are the Katinniq,
Donaldson and Lac Cross deposits. These deposits are found at
the base of komatiitic lavas or are associated with cumulates
or ultramafic sills that crosscut the Chukotat Group.
Nickel grades are generally high and in places
attain 8% over a thickness of about 10 m. Copper contents are
fairly low and rarely reach 1%. Several samples of massive or disseminated
sulphides display average grades of 3 g/t Pd and 1.3 g/t Pg.
According to the classification of magmatic sulphide deposits, the
north trend represents magmatic Ni-Cu sulphide deposits.
|The south trend is mainly associated with
differentiated sills of peridotite-pyroxenite-gabbro and occasional
relatively zoned feeder dykes of peridotitic or gabbroic composition.
It includes several mineralized showings of which the most significant
are Mesamax, Expo-Ungava, TK and Méquillon. Mineralization
is mostly in the form of disseminated to semi-massive sulphides,
with occasional massive sulphides, located at the base of intrusions.
||An alternation between massive and disseminated sulphides
has been noted in places, which suggests a cyclic process for
these occurrences, probably due to repeated injections of magma.
Coarse-grained granular pentlandite accounts for more than 20%
of the observed sulphides . It appears, however, that there
is no difference in Ni-Cu-PGE grades between coarse-grained
and fine-grained granular mineralization.
|Mafic to ultramafic sills are locally intercalated by metasedimentary
horizons. It is therefore not rare to drill a section containing
several levels of massive sulphide. The continuation of a drill
hole will often depend on finding stockwork sulphides in these
metasediments (T. Keast, personal communication).
||In contrast to the north trend, nickel grades of the south
trend rarely exceed 3% Ni, although copper is often locally
recorded at more than 4% over 6 m, including intervals
of 8% over 0.5 m. Ni/Cu ratios for individual samples are
fairly constant, hovering around 1. The relatively constant
Pd/Pt ratios of about 4 in massive or disseminated mineralizations
rise abruptly to 15-20 in horizons that are richer in Cu and
Pd. Also observed is a positive correlation between Cu and Pd.
The highest Pd values (> 10 g/t)
are generally associated with Cu-rich mineralization. The presence
of massive chalcopyrite in the form of veins or thin centimetre-scale
horizons suggests hydrothermal remobilization of Cu and Pd from
primary magmatic mineralization.
Some of the magmatic sulphide deposits in the south
trend containing low nickel grades could therefore prove to be economic
due to their high Pt and Pd contents. Systematic analysis for these
elements is thus strongly recommended in the south zone, even in
areas with very low nickel values.
New data from the Uran-Barry Belt
Pierre Rhéaume and Daniel Bandyayera
Direction de Géologie Québec
During the summer of 2005, Géologie
Québec conducted field studies at selected sites in
the Urban-Barry Belt (UBB), particularly in the Lac Windfall and
Lac Rouleau sectors. Newly stripped zones and recent drill cores
were examined to gain a better understanding of the geological context
of the gold mineralization for which the sector is known. Preliminary
examination of the collected data reveals several similarities between
the Lac Windfall sector and epithermal precious metal deposits.
This work supports previous studies and highlights
the development of several types of auriferous mineralization during
the UBB’s geological history. In particular, the hypothesis
of a large epithermal system in felsic and intermediate rocks for
the Windfall and Rouleau members has significant consequences for
exploration. The following features are considered particularly
- Epithermal-type mineralization observed thus far is associated
with recognizable alteration defined by silicification, carbonatization,
potassium gain, sodium depletion and the presence of tourmaline.
This signature, evident in the field, can serve as an exploration
- The effects of this epithermal system can be seen within a broad
area which includes several rock types. This hydrothermal signature
is notably (but not exclusively) expressed in the Lac Windfall-Lac
Rouleau sector and the Lac aux Loutres sector. The exploration
for epithermal precious metal deposits should take into account
such a large volume of altered rocks.
- The structural style in the UBBfeatures doubly plunging folds
and structural imbrication from south to north which are favourable
to the preservation of extensions of the main altered unitsat
relatively shallow depths.
Location and geological context
The UBB is located 100 km south of Chapais
(Figure 1). It consists dominantly of volcanic rocks and extends
for 135 km from Lac Wilson in the west to the Grenville Front
in the east. The UBB displays a prominent E-W structural trend marked
by doubly plunging folds and E-W faults that produce thrusting to
the north (Figure 2). Numerous felsic volcanic assemblages
are present, including the Novellet (2,714 Ma), Freeman (2,701 Ma),
Windfall (2,718 Ma), Rouleau, Chanceux (2,727 Ma) and
Fecteau (2,791 Ma) members.
Location of the Urban-Barry Belt.
Simplified geology of the Urban-Barry Belt.
The 2005 work focused primarily on the Windfall
and Rouleau members where a number of exploration companies, including
Ressources Murgor Inc., Noront Resources Ltd. and Beaufield Consolidated
Resources Ltd., have been active for several years. Stripping and
drilling in the Windfall sector revealed pyritic stockworks crosscutting
a complex of quartzo-feldspathic porphyry sills, andesites and felsic
tuffs. The stockworks (Figure 3) are typically only weakly
deformed and have yielded gold grades of more than 10 g/t Au.
The Au/Ag ratio for the samples collected in 2005 is high,
on the order of 1/1, and the host rock displays alteration that
is often intense and characterized by silicification, carbonatization,
potassium gain and sodium depletion. Pyrite also contains tourmaline
needles and locally forms tourmaline-cemented breccia similar to
that found in the Lac aux Loutres sector.
Sample from a gold-bearing interval
displaying a pyritic stockwork in an intensely silicified
zone (drill hole NOT-4-27).
Detail of the boxed area in A displaying brownish tourmaline
crystals with triangular cross-sections in pyrite. Sample
provided by Noront Resources Ltd.
Current information indicates that mineralization
predates deformation and is syn-volcanic in origin. The early timing
of the mineralization, the development of pyrite-gold stockworks
in silicified zones with a potassic alteration halo, and the Au/Ag
ratio of about 1 collectively suggest that these mineralizations
belong to a large epithermal system or to an alteration pipe in
an auriferous volcanogenic-exhalative system.
Considerable quantities of disseminated tourmaline
(1-2%) and pyrite were also observed in intermediate tuffs west
of Lac Rouleau. south of the Windfall sector (NAD 83–18
- 454587E - 5431846N). These tuffs coincide with a folded magnetic
high that can be followed for several kilometres.
The Lac Rouleau sector has very little exposure
and was mainly investigated by studying drill core. Core samples
are currently being processed for lithogeochemical analysis that
will help characterize this large unit. The rocks of the Rouleau
Member observed in drill core were mostly lapilli or block tuffs
of intermediate composition. We also observed significant carbonate
alteration locally associated with shearing, as well as quartz veins
and specks of visible gold. Earlier work reported reserves of 544,000 t
grading 7.2 g/t Au. Preliminary evidence is compatible
with vein-type mesothermal gold mineralization.
Plus - an improved version for our clients
Direction du développement minéral
Since the original inauguration of GESTIM in November
2000, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la
Faune continues to make significant improvements to the system.
With the intent of providing the best possible service to customers,
the Ministry will soon be launching GESTIM Plus.
The creation of GESTIM Plus required that
we completely review all GESTIM services to better respond to the
needs or our clientele. In addition to a new interface and more
user-friendly website navigation, users will benefit from a group
of new online services (for example, product orders, and consultation
or designation of mining titles) that will be accessible by simply
clicking a region of interest on a map of Québec. Moreover,
GESTIM Plus offers new tools for producing maps specially
adapted to your business needs.
GESTIM Plus is also a new processing system
for granting mining titles. It deals with queries more rapidly by
offering assistance, automated authentication and supported decision-making.
The aim is to substantially reduce the processing time for your
Customers who are registered members will also
notice many advantages that GESTIM Plus offers. For example,
member services will allow users to manage their own mining titles.
You may also communicate online with the registrar responsible for
processing your file, consult your financial transactions online,
and have access to your customer account to obtain a monthly statement.
We are also confident that you will notice a real improvement to
the claim renewal module.
The Ministry plans to launch GESTIM Plus
at the beginning of 2006. Be among the first to experience
the improvements provided by GESTIM Plus! Can’t wait
until 2006? The beta version will be demonstrated at the Québec
Exploration 2005 conference, so visit our booth for a sneak
preview of GESTIM Plus in action!
latest news and obtaining geochemical analyses
New tools are now available to facilitate data
access for SIGEOM clients.
Get rapid access to new secondary environment
sediment analyses by using E-sigeom à la carte.
Predefined queries under the “New Releases”
option now allow the user to obtain analytical results for sediment
samples collected during new surveys or those involved in recent
Two new databases of secondary environment geochemical
data are currently offered. The first includes the results of a
lake sediment survey covering almost all the Manicouagan
RMC. The second represents the results of the re-analysis of a series
of lake sediment and stream sediment samples that were taken from
the Baie James region.
Geochemical data presented in easy-to-read
Two utilities are available to transfer the geochemical
data from SIGEOM into a table format that is easy to read. The “TranspoLithSIG”
module deals with rock analyses, and the “TranspoSedSIG”
module processes sediment analyses from the secondary environment.
The “TranspoLithSIG” and “TranspoSedSIG”
modules are available in Access 97 or Access 2000 formats.
To obtain them, please contact:
Centre de services des mines
Telephone: (418) 627-6278 (Québec region)
800 363-7233 (toll free in Canada)