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PDAC 2008 – New exploration opportunities in Québec

Daniel Bandyayera and Sylvain Lacroix

As part of its mission to prepare the future of Québec’s mineral industry, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) will be presenting a major exhibit during the 2008 edition of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention. In order to showcase new opportunities for mineral exploration in Québec, the MRNF has decided to focus on four major themes this year.

The changing face of Abitibi

The Abitibi region still has many secrets yet to be revealed, starting with its gold and base metal resources. The Abitibi is one of the most important regions in the world in terms of gold, copper, zinc, and silver production. It also constitutes the largest Archean volcano-sedimentary assemblage in the world. Following new detailed geological surveys and new geochronology dating, the everchanging face of Abitibi continues to attract mining investors, old and new.

New mining camp in the Baie James region

Since the discovery of the world-class Roberto gold deposit, the Baie James region has experienced a major boom in mineral exploration. Several mineral occurrences have been discovered in a variety of metallogenic settings. Moreover, this area is much larger and less well known compared to the Abitibi. The region still has many virgin areas, unstaked and unexplored lands. In addition to the Troilus mine, the new Baie James mining camp hosts nine deposits with NI-43-101-compliant indicated mineral resources, namely: Eleonore (Au), Eau Claire (Au), Zone 32 (Au), Orfée (Au), Eastmain mine (Au), MacLeod Lake (Cu), Lac Rocher (Ni), Lac Levac (Cu-Ni-PGE) and the AM-15 Zone (U).

2006-2007 geoscience work and new exploration targets

To support this resurgence of mining activity, the MRNF has also launched an ambitious project to acquire new aeromagnetic data in the Baie James region. In 2008, 29 map sheets at 1/50,000 scale, between Réservoir Opinaca and Réservoir La Grande, have already been surveyed, and this aeromagnetic data will be available in the fall 2008. Meanwhile, throughout Québec, mapping surveys at various scales target areas with strong mineral potential or where the geology is not well defined. As a result, mineral occurrences and interesting metallogenic settings are inventoried and presented in the form of mineral exploration targets.

Distribution of uranium occurrences in Québec

The MRNF exhibit will also show the impact of the “Gamma effect” of uranium exploration in Québec. Based on a recent lake-bottom sediment geochemistry survey in the Far North and compilation of Sigéom data, exploration targets are proposed for uranium. A map showing the distribution of several types of known uranium deposits is also available.

Québec 2008 meeting: the spotlight is on geoscience history

This year, the Québec 2008 meeting will have the great privilege of taking place in the midst of celebrations for the 400th anniversary of Québec. Thus, it is not a coincidence if the science program has been designed to bridge the gap between the past and the present of geosciences. To this end, scheduled events will attempt to showcase our invaluable geological and architectural heritage, keep mineral resources in the foreground, and discuss topical environmental issues. This is why the program will cover the three following multidisciplinary topics:

1) Resources and Energy
2) Sustainable Environment
3) Earth Evolution

Québec, a city of history, culture and knowledge, will in its own unique way, outline the importance of geosciences in our society.

Just a short walk away from the Convention Centre, the “Gold in the Americas” exhibit will be officially inaugurated at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec, before leaving on an international tour to reveal the fascinating history of this precious metal.

Also at the Musée de la civilisation de Québec, interested parties can find out more about Earth sciences by visiting the educational and interactive exhibit entitled “The Earth Unveiled”.

Finally, delegates will be invited to a special event in the evening of May 27, 2008. Delegates will have the opportunity to attend a cocktail dinner at the Musée de la civilisation, take advantage of an exclusive tour of the “Gold in the Americas” exhibit, and attend a captivating presentation on gold given by André E. Lalonde, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Ottawa.

Make no mistake about it, Québec 2008 is a geological encounter you don’t want to miss!

Québec 2008 is an annual meeting jointly hosted by the Geological Association of Canada, the Mineralogical Association of Canada, the Society of Economic Geologists, and the Society for Geology Applied to Mineral Deposits. This year, it is organized by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, Université Laval, Natural Resources Canada, and Virginia Mines Inc. It will take place from May 26 to 28, 2008, at the Centre des Congrès de Québec.

Discovery of new mineral potential
northwest of Schefferville

Martin Simard, Charles Gosselin, Isabelle Lafrance
Bureau de l'exploration géologique du Québec (BEGQ)

During the summer of 2007, a new mapping project led to the discovery of three new volcano-sedimentary belts northwest of Schefferville (Figure 1). Moreover, during fieldwork, a gold showing grading 2.1 g/t Au was uncovered in one of the belts, indicating the presence of a potential gold-bearing trend.

As a result of mapping at 1/250,000 scale, three new volcano-sedimentary belts were uncovered in the northern part of the La Grande Subprovince, more specifically in the Rivière Sérigny area (NTS 23N and 24C). In one of these belts, a gold showing (2.1 g/t Au) was discovered in altered sulphide-rich metagabbro (Figure 2). The economic potential of Archean greenstone belts located in the north of this subprovince is well established since the discovery of many mineral occurrences in the Lac Gayot area, located directly west of the Rivière Sérigny area. (RG 99-06).

Following these initial discoveries, work by Virginia Mines confirmed the mineral potential of these belts, with the discovery of several significant Ni-Cu-PGE showings associated with ultramafic lavas (Gayot project) as well as numerous volcanogenic massive sulphide occurrences (Zn-Cu-Pb-Ag) associated with felsic volcanic rocks (Coulon project) (Figure 1).

New volcano-sedimentary belts

The discovery of three new volcano-sedimentary belts opens brand new territories to mineral exploration (Figure 2). Within these belts, mapping by the BEGQ identified many rusty and sulphide-rich zones from 1 to 10 metres in size, as well as silicate and oxide-facies iron formations. Sulphides, mainly disseminated pyrite and pyrrhotite, occur in felsic to intermediate rocks as well as mafic to ultramafic rocks. Several mineralized zones were sampled and analyzed for their base and precious metal content. Based on partial results received so far, a new gold showing in the Piscau belt has already been identified. Two samples from a rusty sulphide-rich metagabbro, 5 metres wide and traced over 50 metres strike length, yielded grades of 2.1 g/t Au and 0.5 g/t Au. The metagabbro is altered to silica, albite, sericite, chlorite, and garnet.

The newly mapped belts are essentially composed of amphibolite, but they also contain various volcanic, effusive and intrusive lithologies ranging in composition from ultramafic to felsic, as well as paragneisses and iron formations. These rocks are metamorphosed to the amphibolite to granulite facies. They are also affected in many locations by late alteration, primarily chlorite, sericite, epidote, and silica alteration. Lithological assemblages within these three new belts are assigned to the Gayot Complex, an early unit of volcano-sedimentary rocks (2880 - 2870 Ma) occurring in the northern part of the La Grande Subprovince. The Angilbert belt is 13.5 km long by 4 km wide, the Piscau belt is 8 km by 6 km, and the Cania belt measures 8 km by 2 km.

The Rivière du Sable fault… A gold-bearing structure?

The Rivière du Sable fault is a new regional fault identified during the summer of 2007 in the south part of the Rivière Sérigny area (Figure 2), which appears to extend eastward (Figure 1) based on aeromagnetic data. This regional structure may have played a role in the emplacement of major gold occurrences located on either side of its path. The new gold showing identified in the Piscau belt is located a few kilometres south of the structure, and many gold showings (MM 95-01) occur to the north of the inferred eastern extension of the Rivière du Sable fault (Figure 1). The latter showings are associated with iron formations and show gold grades ranging from 1 to 40 g/t. This potential relationship between all these gold occurrences and the Rivière du Sable fault remains hypothetical for the moment. In the study area, this major fault, outlined by the presence of mylonite zones and alteration corridors, corresponds to the boundary between the La Grande and Ashuanipi subprovinces. It marks a metamorphic contrast between amphibolite-grade rocks to the north and granulite-grade rocks to the south.

Three geological subprovinces meet

The Rivière Sérigny area lies at the junction between three geological subprovinces of the Superior Province (Figure 1). During the summer 2007 mapping survey, the nature and boundaries of these major lithotectonic assemblages were clarified. Our work namely led to the recognition of an inlier of La Grande rocks within the Ashuanipi Subprovince, just west of the Labrador Trough (Figure 1). The presence of tonalitic and dioritic gneisses, typical of the northern part of the La Grande Subprovince, served as evidence to link this part of the area to the La Grande Subprovince.

The La Grande Subprovince is characterized by the presence of early volcano-sedimentary rocks (2880 - 2870 Ma) and tonalitic and dioritic gneisses (2830 – 2810 Ma). Within the study area, the Minto Subprovince contains abundant tonalitic intrusions (2760 – 2740 Ma) as well as younger granitic and granodioritic intrusions (2735 – 2685 Ma). These intrusions also cut earlier units within the La Grande Subprovince. Finally, the younger Ashuanipi Subprovince (2700 – 2630 Ma) is primarily composed of diatexite units, granitoids, and migmatitic paragneiss. The presence of orthopyroxene in these units is an indication of granulite-grade metamorphism, as opposed to amphibolite-grade conditions observed in the other two subprovinces.

Work planned for the summer of 2008

Fieldwork carried out in the summer of 2007 outlined new areas of interest for mineral exploration. As a result, more than 250 new claims were staked following the presentation of these results during Québec Exploration 2007.

Mapping will continue in 2008 in an area further south, covering map sheet 23K and the southern quarter of map sheet 23N (Figure 1). This survey will complete the geological mapping coverage at 1/250,000 scale of the Ashuanipi Subprovince.

Québec Exploration 2007: it was the place to be!

The fifth edition of Québec Exploration took place under the theme “The Right Place to Explore!”. A total of 1,950 participants roamed the halls of the Château Frontenac from November 26 to 29, 2008.

This event has become over the years, one of the most important of its kind in Canada. It brought together members of the mineral exploration industry as well as a number of representatives from various fields, all sharing a common interest for this sector. Moreover, a large number of visitors from the general public came to find out more about the mining world, responding to the invitation of the organizing committee. Participants were able to discuss newly acquired data on Québec’s territory, promising mining developments, and business opportunities in Québec.

Diversified content for various interests!

In addition to high-level speaker programs, participants took advantage of a diversified program combining scientific, commercial, and financial interests. The Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune hosted several workshops, namely dealing with products and services provided to industry such as Sigéom, Gestim Plus and SIGPEG. Moreover, a record number of exhibitors from the mining industry and government showcased their latest results of research and mapping projects. The next generation was also nicely represented, with exhibits from university students in Earth sciences. Finally, in order to foster exchanges and add a little ambiance, a series of social events were planned for delegates and their accompanying guests.

The future mineral strategy in the heart of discussions

Québec’s future Mineral Strategy was of course the topic of many conversations. Most everyone readily expressed the opinion that the mineral industry could not remain competitive without the crucial input of dynamic and skilled newcomers. Also of interest is that Québec is known to offer some of the most attractive measures in the world for the mining industry. Maintaining these advantages is crucial for the growth of the mining sector, which is the ultimate purpose of the strategy.

From the Copper Plan to the “Gamma effect”: a speaker program of undeniable quality!

Delegates certainly got their money’s worth! The topics of speaker programs were so popular that event organizers were taken by surprise by the number of delegates wanting to attend oral presentations. There just wasn’t enough room! After dealing with this situation in 2007, the organizing committee will have to considerably increase the number of seats available for the 2008 edition in order to meet the growing demand for geoscience presentations.

The first “Open House” for Québec Exploration

To shed some light on this relatively unknown sector in the general population, the organizing committee offered an educational program for high-school representatives, students and the public at large, within the scope of an “Open House” that took place on Thursday afternoon. This first edition was quite successful and will no doubt be repeated for Québec Exploration 2008.

It’s all on the website:

If you did not have to opportunity to attend Québec Exploration 2007, you can still find lots of relevant information on the event’s website. You can namely view the abstracts for all oral presentations and even see most of the slideshows presented by the speakers. Abstracts for posters prepared by geologists from Géologie Québec, the Geological Survey of Canada, various geoscience research institutes as well as Earth science university students are also available. Finally, you can see for yourself how popular the various social events were by consulting the photo album available on the website. Explore the site, it’s a good investment!

See you in 2008!

Don’t miss the next edition of Québec Exploration! This event, now a staple for the mining and oil & gas industries, will be back on November 24 to 27, 2008, at the Château Frontenac in Québec. Special events will be planned for the 2008 edition, within the scope of the International Year of Planet Earth and the 400th anniversary of Québec!

Nearly 170 new targets are released
at Québec Exploration

By Daniel Lamothe, Marc Legault and Patrice Roy

The Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) took advantage of the 5th edition of Québec Exploration to release 167 new exploration targets. These targets were defined based on a potential assessment for orogenic gold deposits in the Baie-James region and on fieldwork conducted in 2007.

Gold potential in the Baie James region

The unveiling of 102 targets with strong gold potential, last November 27th during Québec Exploration 2007, generated an immediate flurry of interest, which translated, in the hours following the release, into requests for nearly 250 mining titles covering about twenty targets. This highly positive response was maintained in the following weeks, as more than 500 new titles covering 33 targets were registered as of January 1, 2008. The simultaneous release of the gold potential map in both GESTIM and the MRNF website has certainly been a determining factor in this success.

These 102 targets were defined following the integration of georeferenced digital data extracted from the MRNF’s Geomining Information System (SIGEOM). Data within the study area, relating to 28 geological parameters associated with the presence of orogenic gold deposits, were weighed, combined and validated to delineate a number of high-favourability zones for gold. The location of these targets, which represent the unstaked portions of these zones as of November 1, 2007, was published in PRO 2007-06.

An updated version of the map and the targets, integrating new 2007 mapping data, will be unveiled during the next Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Convention. A description of the data processing, accompanied by an Access database describing each target, along with maps at 1/250,000 and 1/50,000 scale showing the gold potential of the Baie-James region, will be published in March 2008.

Targets defined following fieldwork

For the first time this year, Géologie Québec released a promotional document (PRO) listing all targets of economic interest identified during its geoscience projects carried out in 2007. These targets were essentially defined based on field observations and correspond to zones where the geological setting is favourable for mineral exploration. A total of 65 targets are grouped into three categories:

  1. - point targets measuring less than 100 metres;
  2. - local targets between 100 metres and 1 kilometre in size;
  3. - regional targets greater than 1 kilometre in size.

The location of these targets and a brief description in table form are available in the document PRO_2007-04.

Inauguration of the Quaternary Applied Research Centre

In the Nord-du-Québec region, more specifically in Chibougamau, took place the inauguration of the Quaternary Applied Research Centre (QARC) on December 17, 2007. This new centre was created to build knowledge on Quaternary deposits in the Baie James region and develop innovative approaches to sampling and processing of Quaternary deposits for mineral exploration.

The QARC constitutes a partner of choice for mining companies active in the Nord-du-Québec region. It offers a variety of services in applied research in the following fields:

  • Geomorphology and Quaternary mapping;
  • Quaternary stratigraphy and modelling of clastic glacial dispersal;
  • Soil sampling and laboratory processing protocols.

For the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF), the QARC represents an important partner in developing the mineral potential of the Nord-du-Québec region, given its particular expertise. The MRNF contributed in 2007 to a project headed by the James Bay Joint Action Mining Committee (JBJAMC) on the Sakami Moraine. Other collaborative projects between the MRNF and the QARC are also being developed.

The QARC was created by the JBJAMC with financial contributions from Economic Development Canada and the Ministère du Développement économique, de l’Innovation et de l’Exportation. The QARC can also count on numerous other institutional partners, among which the MRNF, Emploi-Québec, the Cree Mineral Exploration Board, the Geological Survey of Canada, the Société de développement de la Baie-James, the Conférence régionale des élus de la Baie-James and the Centre d’études collégiales in Chibougamau.

For more information about the QARC or to reach members of its staff, please consult the JBJAMC website.

Symposium 2008 on Mines and the Environment -
When profitability rhymes with environment friendly

Just a few days before Québec Exploration 2008, Rouyn-Noranda will host, from November 2 to 5, 2008, the latest Symposium on Mines and the Environment.

The invitation comes from the Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) and the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum (CIM).

During these four days devoted to sharing knowledge, delegates will ultimately be invited to find solutions that reconcile profitability and environmental protection.

The program for the Symposium 2008 on Mines and the Environment includes a trade show, field trips, short courses, and most importantly, a technical program that will enable participants to learn more about tailings, underground backfill, waste rock, water quality, site rehabilitation, new trends, as well as policies and regulations.

To find out more about the symposium program or to register, take a look in CIM publications. You can also contact Chantal Murphy (CIM) directly by phone at 1-800-667-1246.

The Symposium 2008 is the result of a collaborative effort involving the NSERC Industrial Chair – Polytechnique – UQAT Environmental and Mine Waste Management, the Unité de recherche et de service en technologie minérale (URSTM), the Association minière du Québec (AMQ), the Mine Environment Neutral Drainage (MEND) Program, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune (MRNF) and industry.