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2007-2008 geoscience program
Continuing and expanding activities

Sylvain Lacroix, director
Bureau de l'exploration géologique du Québec
Direction générale de Géologie Québec

The Bureau de l’exploration géologique du Québec is presenting the geoscience projects it intends to carry out in 2007-2008 (PDF Format, 2,5 Mo). There are 11 projects currently included in the new program.

The program was established after consultation of regional and industry stakeholders. The work planned for this year is mostly a continuation of projects begun last year and reflects the priorities already identified by the Copper Plan in northwestern Québec and the triennial plans in the various geological regions of Québec.

The results of all these new geoscience projects will be revealed next November, during the Québec Exploration 2007 event.

Copper Plan

For the second year in a row, northwestern Québec will be the scene of an extensive geoscience program to promote the exploration and discovery of new deposits that could supply copper concentrate for the Horne smelter in Rouyn-Noranda. Carried out in partnership with the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS), the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC) and other industrial, academic and regional stakeholders, this geoscience work is also intended to network all available human resources.

The Rouyn-Noranda sector is highly prospective for the discovery of copper deposits and will be the target of several multidisciplinary projects, including new inventories in the western part of the Blake River Group. The work will be carried out on either side of the Québec-Ontario border by MRNF and OGS geologists. Metallogenic studies will also be conducted along the Cadillac Fault and in the Malartic Group, to test the possible extension into Québec of the units hosting the giant Kidd-Creek deposit, near Timmins in Ontario. 3D modeling along the Cadillac Fault and in the Blake River Group, to identify mineral potential at depth, as well as several other thematic studies (geochronology, structural geology, ore deposit study, etc.), will support the other work.

In Chibougamau, fieldwork will continue in summer 2007, to update several geological maps in this area highly prospective for copper, which was the subject of a recent airborne geophysical MEGATEM survey by the Geological Survey of Canada, as part of the IGC/TGI 3 Targeted Geoscience Initiative. The work will be complemented by 3D modeling of the south limb of the lac Doré Complex.

In the Baie-James territory, the major geological mapping project carried out last year in the area of the Éléonore discovery, north of the rivière Eastmain, will continue for a second consecutive year, moving toward areas situated further west.

A new mapping project in the Far North

Geological mapping at a scale of 1:250,000 will be carried out on the rivière Sérigny (23N) map sheet. In addition, the survey will cover the western third of the lac Cambrien (24C) map sheet, immediately to the north. This survey will complete the mapping already carried out during the Far North program.

Other projects in the Grenville Province, the Appalachians and unconsolidated deposits

Several projects will be carried out in the Grenville Province, on the north bank of the fleuve Saint-Laurent, in 2008. In the Côte-Nord Region, mapping of the sector west of Baie-Comeau will continue in summer 2007. A pilot project to evaluate the potential for all mineral resources (metals, stone, aggregate, peat, etc.) will also be conducted in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean Region.

The potential for dimension stone in the Grenville Province and the Appalachians will be evaluated in various regions (Portneuf, Charlevoix, Bas-Saint-Laurent). A compilation of unconsolidated deposits and erosion marks will also cover large areas of the Côte-Nord, Bas-Saint-Laurent and Québec regions.

Since its creation in March 2006, the Bureau de l’exploration géologique du Québec (BEGQ) has been responsible for acquiring new geological knowledge throughout Québec. Its work focuses on developing Québec's mineral potential in order to encourage mineral exploration and the renewal and diversification of its mineral resources. To fulfill its provincial mandate, the BEGQ has roughly forty employees, including about twenty geologists, in four offices in the following municipalities: Montréal, Québec, Rouyn-Noranda and Val-d’Or.


Rivière Octave Project: initial results from a new type of survey for sectors with scarce surface date

Pierre Rhéaume (BEGQ-MRNF)
Michel Parent (NRCAN-CGC)
Charles Maurice (BEGQ-MRNF)

As part of the MRNF's Copper Plan and the Geological Survey of Canada's Targeted Geoscience Initiative (IGC/TGI), we have developed a new type of drill-hole survey that combines the study of Quaternary deposits with sampling of the basement rock in the outcrop-poor areas of the northern part of the Abitibi region. The first phase of the survey led to the discovery of new mineralized settings likely to interest the mineral exploration industry. The most interesting discoveries are the following:

  • A new unit of felsic lava with chlorite alteration and traces of disseminated sulphides
  • New deformation zones with a context favourable for orogenic gold mineralization

Objectives and methodology

The objective of the Rivière Octave project is to sample and characterize the till and basement rock beneath the significant layer of glaciolacustrine deposits along a corridor about ten kilometres wide, stretching over 170 kilometres from Normétal to the Bell River (PDF Format, 1,4 Mb). The target area, for the first three years, is bordered to the north by the Marest Pluton and to the south by the Bernetz Pluton, east of Highway 109. The first phase of the project began in 2006 on NTS map sheet 32F04-SO (Bigniba Lake), where 37 vertical holes were drilled.

The sampling was done by diamond drilling along the existing road network, with an average spacing of two kilometres between holes. The drill holes were positioned to sample units of the basement rock characterized by distinct signatures on the regional aeromagnetic survey. A few outcrops along accessible logging roads were also described.

For the Quaternary sediments, the primary objective is to establish the provenance of the various till layers present by characterizing their geochemical, mineralogical and lithological composition. For each drill hole, the plan is therefore to characterize the stratigraphy, the geochemistry of the fine fraction (< 63 μm ), the heavy mineralogy of the sand fraction and the assemblage of lithic fragments. Other types of data may also be obtained, depending on the nature of the materials discovered. The results of the work on Quaternary sediments will be the subject of an upcoming publication.

For the basement rock, the plan is to characterize the lithologies of each drill hole using macroscopic and petrographic descriptions, lithogeochemistry of fresh and altered facies, and structural and magnetic susceptibility measurements. This characterization of the basement rock will lead to a new geological map that can be used as a reference to evaluate the mineral potential of the sector and to provide a geological context for exploration targets derived from the geochemistry of glacial sediments.

Preliminary geological map

The preliminary geological results stem from the visual examination of drill core collected during the first phase of the project. They are presented in Table 1 in the form of summaries. The lithological descriptions, considered with the regional magnetic survey (Format PDF, 693 Ko), made it possible to sketch the outline of a geological map for this area (Format PDF, 684 Ko). A lithogeochemical characterization of these rocks is underway. The latter, combined with the integration of data from regional compilations, will make it possible to refine the current geological picture.

Table 1

#

UTM NAD 83

DRILL HOLE INTERVAL

BEDROCK

EASTING

NORTHING

CLAY

TILL

ROCK

TOTAL

RO-1

5439048

286909

9,58

2,46

4,26

16,30

Felsic QZ porphyry Dyke

RO-2

5440161

286703

14,02

2,95

3,73

20,70

Wacke and mudstone

RO-3

5440448

288173

9,91

5,20

4,60

19,71

Wacke and mudstone, QZ-AB veins

RO-4

5441250

286783

13,44

6,53

3,19

23,16

Ash and crystal felsic tuff

RO-5

5437800

289315

13,39

25,65

3,66

42,70

Wacke and mudstone, CB veins

RO-6

5439200

291023

10,21

8,79

4,67

23,67

Wacke and mudstone, QZ-AB veins

RO-7

5436707

291860

19,99

1,54

4,25

25,78

Wacke

RO-8

5440156

289056

11,07

6,63

4,40

22,10

Wacke and mudstone, QZ-AB veins

RO-9

5437084

293635

8,00

5,34

4,14

17,48

Wacke and mudstone

RO-10

5438823

292609

30,35

0,00

0,00

30,35

 

RO-11

5439209

294093

8,30

11,93

3,57

23,80

Basaltic flow breccia

RO-12

5440544

294235

26,62

0,00

4,60

31,22

Ash and lapilli tuff

RO-13

5439585

295509

8,79

1,60

4,24

14,63

Amygdalar basalt

RO-14

5440362

296053

7,34

1,40

3,81

12,55

Magnetic gabbro

RO-15

5441363

298626

9,91

10,12

4,61

24,64

SR+QZ+CB breccia, Andesite

RO-16

5441360

295166

24,69

14,69

4,15

43,53

Magnetic gabbro, CB veins

RO-17

5439457

298212

8,43

0,77

2,59

11,79

Porphyric gabbro

RO-18

5433409

296858

0,90

0,00

3,87

4,77

Wacke and mudstone, veines QZ-AB

RO-19

5437656

298157

4,24

7,39

3,35

14,98

Intermediate Intrusion, QZ-CB veins

RO-20

5434303

294080

5,05

0,36

4,04

9,45

Wacke, dykes of granodiorite and QZ veins

RO-21

5433081

298502

7,77

0,43

4,50

12,70

Wacke and mudstone

RO-22

5434778

291033

20,52

6,09

4,23

30,84

Foliated granodiorite

RO-23

5435812

295626

6,73

0,00

3,20

9,93

Wacke and mudstone, CB veins

RO-24

5443690

292250

12,70

3,91

4,24

20,85

Andesite/basalte

RO-25

5444718

292458

9,25

1,08

4,05

14,38

Magnetic gabbro, QZ-CB veins

RO-26

5445403

291193

14,96

0,76

3,96

19,68

Gabbro

RO-27

5445471

289084

9,47

8,31

3,94

21,72

Felsic bloc and lapilli tuff

RO-28

5445559

286796

11,94

0,64

3,95

16,53

Gabbro

RO-29

5443908

285508

25,76

1,67

4,14

31,57

Andesite/basalte

RO-30

5443844

287242

19,66

18,26

4,45

42,37

Felsic lava lobes, chlorite altereation

RO-31

5443255

286199

9,37

0,18

4,01

13,56

Felsic lava lobes, chlorite altereation

RO-32

5443660

282018

20,80

0,00

4,14

24,94

Felsic lava lobes, chlorite altereation

RO-33

5436753

286403

16,46

2,82

3,96

23,24

Wacke and mudstone

RO-34

5436038

288019

14,88

0,00

4,15

19,03

Andesite/basalte

RO-35

5434831

287070

13,87

0,77

3,22

17,86

Foliated granodiorite

RO-36

5436006

281346

24,69

0,14

5,45

30,28

Amphibolite

RO-37

5438814

285328

13,48

0,36

4,22

18,06

Wacke and mudstone

The 2006 work identified a series of major geological domains characterized by certain lithological and magnetic properties and bordered by deformation zones. The latter were traced on the basis of the degree of rock deformation observed and turned out to correspond to the southern border of two linear magnetic highs generally oriented WNW-ESE. The main lithological domains identified, from south to north, were:

  1. the Bernetz Pluton,
  2. basalts and amphibolites,
  3. mudstones and wackes,
  4. intermediate and felsic volcanics, and
  5. gabbros (Format PDF, 693 Ko) (Format PDF, 684 Ko).

Although our work did not bring to light any new mineralized showings, the preliminary results make it possible to suggest certain regional exploration targets and to determine settings favourable for the following types of mineralization:

  1. volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits,
  2. orogenic gold deposits associated with regional deformation corridors,
  3. sulphide deposits of unknown affinity.

Volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits

Click on photo to enlarge

Felsic lava (dacite?) with well develloped flow banding in drill hole RO-31. The progressive change in attitude of the flow banding is not the result of folding but reflects the internal structure of a lobe.
The potential for this type of deposit is mainly related to newly identified felsic volcanic rocks in the northern part of the study area. The lobate felsic lava and tuffs with chlorite alteration suggest the presence of a felsic centre that could be conducive to the genesis of volcanogenic massive sulphides.
This alteration, which consists of dark chlorite accompanied by silica and traces of carbonates, is disseminated in small clusters within the lava. It has also been noted as fill in angular areas between the fragments of brecciated zones. The overall sulphide content of the rock is less than 1% but the chloritic areas are up to 1 cm wide and contain up to 2% finely disseminated pyrite accompanied by traces of chalcopyrite. Lithogeochemical characterization of the felsic rocks, examination of the drill core from old holes, drilling of new holes or additional geophysical surveys would make it possible to further clarify this promising setting.

Click on photo to enlarge

Autobreccic felsic lava (dacite?) with chlorite alteration and traces of disseminated sulfide in drill hole RO-32.

Orogenic gold deposits associated with regional deformation corridors

The work underway has led to the identification of potential for the presence of orogenic gold deposits associated with deformation zones. The zones, with an average dip of 60° north, form a fan-shaped swarm converging in the southeastern part of the map; they vary in direction from E-W to NW-SE. Among these zones, it should be possible to recognize the extensions of the Laflamme and Harricana deformation zones.

Click on photo to enlarge
Tectonic breccia with strong sericite-carbonate-silica alteration in drill hole RO-15. This breccia, located within 300 meters of a SE-trending deformation zone, contains about 2% disseminated pyrite with traces of chalcopyrite .
Holes drilled on the periphery of these deformation zones intersected numerous quartz-carbonate-pyrite±chlorite±albite veins. Drill hole RO-15 (Table 1), in particular, cut a sheared and altered tectonic breccia over 2.3 m. This breccia is associated with significant sericite, carbonate and silica alteration, locally accompanied by 2% disseminated pyrite and traces of chalcopyrite. The hole was collared in a zone of low magnetic susceptibility, about 300 m south of a deformation zone.

A gold showing, the Coigny showing, was discovered about four kilometres south of hole RO-15, on another NW-SE structure, in 1997. The Coigny showing consists of gold-bearing NW-SE quartz-carbonate veins in sheared basalt.

Sulphide deposits of unknown affinity

Sulphides, whose metallogenic context could not be identified, are present in the amphibolites adjacent to the Bernetz Pluton (RO-36). These occurrences locally contain up to 5% sulphides and consist of pyrite and chalcopyrite as elongated clusters and very fine disseminations.

Next steps

The project's raw data will be entered into SIGEOM, and a first geological report will be published in the RP series in November 2007. A synthesis report in the RG series will also be prepared at the end of the project (2010) and will integrate the overall results of the work.

The results of the work on Quaternary sediments will be the subject of a separate series of publications.

uring the next phases, the Rivière Octave project will continue toward the east into Fonteneau, Thémines and Comtois townships, into the eastern extensions of the rocks presented here.


The Manitou-Goldex Project:
an MRNF-Agnico-Eagle Mines partnership

Johanne Cyr

Of all the abandoned mine sites in Québec, the Manitou site, which has an area of nearly 200 hectares, is the one that presents the most significant rehabilitation challenge. Over the years, the dispersion and alteration of tailings that generate acid mine drainage have had a major impact on the local environment, particularly the Bourlamaque River. The government considers that this site is in urgent need of rehabilitation.

Following the bankruptcy of the last mining rights holder in 2003, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) took charge of the Manitou site. Several site rehabilitation scenarios have been studied. Using the mill waste from Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) Ltd.’s Goldex mine, located in the western part of Val-d’Or, seems to be a very cost-effective solution for rehabilitating the Manitou site.
Click on photo to enlarge

The Manitou-Goldex project is a test-case for sustainable development as well as being a cost-effective and innovative project. The MRNF-AEM partnership will make it possible to restore the Manitou site to a satisfactory condition. More specifically, wildlife habitats will be re-created, lost fish habitats in the Rivière Bourlamaque will be counterbalanced by revitalizing this segment of the river and, finally, land-use will be optimized, especially by avoiding the creation of a sizable new tailings impoundment and by reducing the need for using natural resources such as sand, gravel and clay.

In addition, this project will have considerable regional economic impacts, since it will lead to the creation of a significant number of jobs in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

The rehabilitation work began in 2006 and will continue for approximately 12 years, which is the Goldex mine’s estimated mine life.

Site description and issue

Click on photo to enlarge

Ruisseau Manitou
The Manitou site is located about 15 km southwest of Val-d’Or, in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. The mining of a zinc and copper deposit from 1942 to 1979 produced nearly 11 Mt of waste that generates acid mine drainage.

The waste deposited in the tailings impoundment without adequate containment spread out around the deposition zone and along Ruisseau Manitou over a distance of 6.5 km all the way to the Rivière Bourlamaque.


Erosion by wind and water significantly contributed to the dispersion of the tailings and to producing acid mine drainage. An area of 200 hectares is also currently considered to be affected by the presence of mine tailings and various contaminants generated by oxidation of the metallic sulphides present in the Manitou mine’s tailings.

An innovative partnership approach

The partnership between the MRNF and AEM for rehabilitation of the Manitou mine site is a fine example of the application of sustainable development principles. There are many advantages to this partnership. It will make it possible to:

  • rehabilitate the Manitou site at a lower cost to the government. AEM’s financial contribution, which is equivalent to the cost of a new 24 Mt tailings impoundment, represents an estimated savings of $12 million for the government; the total cost of the project is currently estimated at $47 million;
  • put the Goldex gold mine into production without additional delays or costs;
  • reduce to a minimum the amount of natural resources (sand and gravel, clay, etc.) required to rehabilitate the site;
  • avoid construction of a sizable new tailings impoundment (more than 24 Mt of mine tailings) by using waste from the Goldex mine to rehabilitate the Manitou site.

Manitou-Goldex Project

The goal of the Manitou-Goldex project is to rehabilitate the Manitou site by using waste from the Goldex mine to cover and neutralize the acid generating tailings of the Manitou mine. The tailings from the Goldex mine are cyanide- and sulphide-free. In addition, the neutralizing potential of the waste will make it possible to neutralize the acidity of interstitial water in the tailings from the Manitou site, leading to an increase in pH and the onsite precipitation of metals dissolved in the interstitial water.

The waste from the Goldex mine will be transported to the Manitou site in the form of thickened pulp, containing about 55% solids, by a 24-km pipeline. The Goldex mine's tailings deposition plan provides for four zones and a polishing basin before the supernatant water is returned to the environment.

Two emergency containment impoundments will be set up to reduce the risks associated with tailings transportation. The first, Goldex South, with a capacity of 5 Mt, is located near the Goldex mill. The second will use areas set up at the East Sullivan site, upstream of the Manitou site, west of the Rivière Bourlamaque.

The work will be spread out over about 12 years, which is the anticipated mine life of the Goldex mine. In addition, site closure plans provide for revegetation of the site and stabilization of the banks of the Rivière Bourlamaque. Finally, the development of a marsh and the restoration of wildlife habitats, especially fish habitats, will be integrated into the work to rehabilitate the site.

Work completed

During winter 2006-2007, more than 10 km of ditches were dug to divert uncontaminated water from part of the drainage basin, with the goal of reducing the volume of water in contact with the mine tailings, mainly in the discharge zones and in Ruisseau Manitou. The drainage basin, whose initial area was more than 1,700 hectares, was therefore reduced to 690 hectares.

Click on photo to enlarge

Discharge zone
In the short term, this work is intended to reduce erosion of the tailings and leaching of contaminants toward the Rivière Bourlamaque. To minimize the impact of the contaminated water flowing from the northern sector toward the drainage basin of the Rivière Colombière, the water was diverted toward Ruisseau Manitou.

The construction of a permanent access road from the entrance to the site to the Rivière Bourlamaque is almost finished. The road will be used for building the pipeline and for monitoring and maintenance throughout the operation.

Click on photo to enlarge

Delta along the banks of the Rivière Bourlamaque
At the same time, the tailings accumulated along the banks of the Rivière Bourlamaque and in the downstream portion of Ruisseau Manitou were excavated over about 1.5 km. More than 350,000 m3 of tailings were transported to the main area of the existing tailings impoundments, which will be graded before being covered by tailings from the Goldex mine.

On average, 300 mm of natural soil were excavated below the mine tailings.
The results of analyses carried out on the soil left on site are in the A-B range of the Contaminated Land Rehabilitation Policy, which issues from the Environment Quality Act.

Upcoming work

The preparation of the Manitou site and construction of the infrastructure for transportation of the tailings will be finished by the end of 2007. The first ore processing tests are planned for early 2008. Therefore, by spring 2008, the first tailings from the Goldex mine could be transported to the Manitou site.

A monitoring program for water quality and cover performance will be implemented once operations begin. The data will be used to measure the degree to which the rehabilitation objectives have been met and to optimize the deposition plan and work methods throughout the project.

Government industry partnership and sustainable development

The discussions initiated in January 2004 led to a framework agreement between the MRNF, the MDDEP and AEM, in November 2006, for the implementation of a government-industry partnership to rehabilitate the Manitou site using tailings from the Goldex mine. A management committee, consisting of representatives from the MRNF, AEM and an independent expert, is responsible for monitoring the technical and budgetary aspects of the project and for applying the regulations and procedures set out in the framework agreement.

This government-industry partnership in the Manitou-Goldex project is a win-win situation for the partners and is fully consistent with sustainable development.


New geological maps available

Géologie Québec is announcing that new geological maps are being published on the Website of the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF). They are preliminary versions of the geology of the Abitibi Subprovince and the Ungava Orogen. The two maps result from a synthesis of previous work. They are available free of charge.

The geological map of the Abitibi Subprovince is at a scale of 1:500,000. It was produced as part of the Copper Plan, under the direction of Jean Goutier (MRNF). The previous version of this map dated from 1984 and issued from a joint project of the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec and the Ontario Geological Survey (DV 83-16). A lithotectonic map of the Abitibi Subprovince was also published in 1990 (DV 89-04).

The geological map covering the entire Ungava Orogen is being published for the first time. At a scale of 1:250,000, it combines the work of provincial and federal government geologists. This synthesis map was compiled by Daniel Lamothe (MRNF), in cooperation with geologists from the Geological Survey of Canada.

Both maps are in PDF format. The maps will be produced using a geographic information system (SIG) and published in ArcGIS and MapInfo format by the end of 2007, for the Ungava region, and in 2008, for the Abitibi region.

The base maps used for the synthesis work are available at a scale of 1:20,000 for the Abitibi area and of 1:50,000 for the Ungava area. These maps, as well as the associated geoscience data, are accessible via the Online Products and Services section of the MRNF Website.

Géologie Québec also offers a series of maps illustrating mineral activity in Québec. These maps were published for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) convention, held in Toronto in March 2007.

Other maps are available in the Maps/Plans section of the MRNF Website.


Québec Exploration 2007 unveils its preliminary program

"The Right Place to Explore" is the theme chosen by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune and the Québec Mineral Exploration Association for Québec Exploration 2007. This year, the event will be held from November 26 to 29 at the Château Frontenac in Québec.

The fifth annual Québec Exploration event, under the honorary chairmanship of Mr. Ian Pearce (Xstrata Nickel), has exceptional programming in store for you, dealing with every major or current sector related to the mining industry. Here is an overview.

Rich and diversified programming

Québec Exploration 2007 will offer a program of high-calibre technical sessions, workshops and interactive sessions dealing with exploration activities in Québec and many other topics including the geosciences, sustainable development, mine rehabilitation and the mine environment.

The Exploration/Investment Forum is back

After being very well-received last year, the Exploration/Investment Forum is back with an outstanding program and internationally known speakers. It offers a unique opportunity to attend technical sessions and presentations by investment and exploration specialists.

Oil and gas exploration

You can also find out about the considerable efforts under way in oil and gas exploration in Québec, which hold the promise of very interesting discoveries.

New in 2007: open house on the afternoon of November 29th

Québec Exploration is extending a special invitation to the population and especially to young people, who are the future of the industry. Come meet the exhibitors, attend technical sessions or take part in the interactive session concerning geoscience at the service of sustainable development and the preservation of the ecosystem.

To find out more about the preliminary program, visit the event’s Internet site at www.QuebecExploration.qc.ca.