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Québec Exploration 2009:
Towards sustainable Mining Exploration

The theme of the seventh edition of Québec Exploration will be "Towards Sustainable Mining Exploration." The convention, which grows increasingly popular with each passing year, will once again be a must-attend event for all mining exploration stakeholders and investors. It will also provide an opportunity for representatives of the geoscientific communities of Québec and the other provinces to meet and share the latest developments in this thriving sector.

The organizing committee is very proud to announce that distinguished geologist François Robert has agreed to act as honorary chair of Québec Exploration 2009. Mr. Robert, who holds a PhD from École Polytechnique de Montréal and a post doctorate from the University of Michigan, is currently head exploration geologist for Barrick Gold Corporation. Don’t miss his presentation on Wednesday, November 25 at 11:00 a.m.!

The Organizing Committee Unveils its Official Program

On October 1, the organizing committee unveiled its official program on the Québec Exploration 2009 website. Visit the website and discover a rich and diversified program on a broad variety of subjects. The following are just a sample:

  • Northern Québec : new developments and outlook
  • Québec’s major gold potential
  • The latest discoveries
  • Industrial minerals and mineral diversification in Québec
  • Mining investment: The outlook for 2010
  • New targeting methods
  • Sustainable development and responsible exploration

A number of internationally renowned speakers have confirmed they will attend.

Over 150 exhibitors have booked all available spots and are waiting to welcome you

As in past years, mining exploration stakeholders will enjoy this unique opportunity to get a sneak preview of the results of mapping work and studies carried out by Bureau de l’exploration géologique du Québec, the Québec Geoscience Centre, and the universities. Over 50 mapping projects and studies will be presented on posters and plasma screens.

New Mining Exploration Targets!

Each year, geoscientific research and mineral potential assessments uncover new mining exploration targets in Québec. Be the first to find out about them!

The Québec Mineral Strategy: Let’s talk about it!

The Québec Mineral Strategy was officially tabled in June 2009. Already the mining sector is starting to apply the strategy’s main thrusts. Learn more about the action plan designed to implement the Québec Mineral Strategy at a talk presented by the associate deputy minister for mines and an interactive session led by the political affairs director of the associate deputy minister’s office.

Everything You Want to Know About the Sector’s Financial Outlook

An impressive team of financial consultants and newsletter editors will discuss their financial analyses of the current state of affairs in the mining sector and present their forecasts for 2010. John Kaiser, internationally renowned mining analysis newsletter editor, will be the guest speaker at the Exploration/Investment Dinner Conference. An opportunity not to be missed!

This is only a brief glance at the rich and varied program for Québec Exploration 2009, which over the years has become a key source of information on the latest developments and an excellent place to do business! Come discover everything Québec Exploration 2009 has to offer! For more information, go to and register now!

Economic Impacts of Géologie Québec's Geoscientific Work

A document on the economic impacts of Géologie Québec’s geoscientific work will be unveiled at Québec Exploration 2009. In this document, Géologie Québec compares the amount it spends on gathering geoscientific data with the industry’s exploration costs.

The document shows that Géologie Québec’s regional mapping work precedes private investment, and enables more effective targeting of potentially interesting areas and exploration targets that justify substantial exploration investment. The Data Géologie Québec and the industry collects are archived in Québec’s geoscientific database SIGEOM and are available to the public at large. Based on the data stored in SIGEOM, Géologie Québec produces mineral potential maps showing unstaked exploration targets. Since 2005, these maps published by Géologie Québec have been giving a short-term boost to the number of mining title claims and increased the potential for discovering new deposits in underexplored regions.

For more information, consult: Measuring the Economic Impact of Geoscience work by Géologie Québec (PDF Format, 1,42 Mb)

Québec Exploration 2009:
A Sustainable Development Open House!

"Sustainable development," "responsible mining exploration", "outstanding geological sites," and "mineral strategy" are all terms that will be in the air at the Open House activities organized for conference attendees as well as for the general public and students.

On Thursday, November 26 as of 12:30 p.m. Québec Exploration will open its doors to members of the public—including primary and secondary students—who are interested in the Québec mining sector. Over a hundred students, together with their teachers, have already signed up.

The educational activities intended for students will center on the theme "The oldest rock in the world is in Québec." Guided tours, spectacular mineral collections, presentations by dedicated professionals in the sector, and a host of other activities are planned.

A special session has been organized for those interested in sustainable development and the environment, starting at 1:30 p.m. in the Frontenac Room.

Starting Thursday, November 26 at 12:30 p.m. you will have a golden opportunity to attend, free of charge, a one-of-a-kind event in the wonderful world of mining and geology!

Rare earth elements and lithium:
Québec's new wave of mineral exploration

Patrice Roy and Charles Gosselin
Géologie Québec

There has been a surge of interest in the mineral exploration of rare earth elements and rare metals, such as lithium. Demand is soaring as these metals find their way into an increasing number of high tech applications in the energy, transportation, and telecommunications sectors. Plus, in early September 2009, China —which produces 95% of the world’s rare earth elements—announced that it intends to cut production and exports so as to protect its resources.


Lithium, the lightest solid chemical element, is soft, silvery white in color, and easily oxidized upon contact with air and water. It belongs to the alkali group of metals. Lithium is used primarily in glass and ceramics, lubricants, polymers, and in pharmacology. Its consumption has skyrocketed recently to meet demand for batteries, especially lithium-ion types used by cell phones, computers, tools, and electric and hybrid vehicles.

Lithium is found primarily in two types of deposits: natural brine found in lithium-rich evaporite basins and in spodumene pegmatites associated with peralkaline intrusive complexes. At present, most lithium comes from South American brines. In 2007, according to data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), Chile was the leading lithium producer (with 43% of worldwide production), followed by Australia (27%), China (12%), and Argentina (12%). Russia, the U.S., Canada, and Zimbabwe are also significant producers of lithium. Bolivia is home to the largest non-operating reserves of lithium, with more than Chile and Argentina. Extracted lithium—in the form of lithium carbonate—sells for approximately US$3 a pound.

In Québec, lithium mineralizations are found primarily in peralkaline granite pegmatites rich in Li-Be-Ta-Cs-Rb (type 1) (PDF Format, 4 Mb). Lithium is most often found in association with spodumene but also with other minerals such as petalite and lepidolite. Numerous showings have been identified in Baie-James in the vicinity of the Frotet-Evans volcanic-sedimentary belts east of Lac Mistassini, Eastmain, and south of the Opinaca reservoir (particularly Lithium One’s Cyr claim). Other showings have been identified in the Pontiac Subprovince at Témiscamingue, and around the Preissac and La Corne batholiths in Abitibi. The Québec Lithium mine (production of 907,200 tons at 2.4% LiO2) operated at La Corne from 1955 to 1965, and today Canada Lithium Corp. is engaged in exploration there with the goal of resuming production.

Rare earth elements

Rare earth elements (REE) are comprised of 17 chemical elements found within the earth’s crust in relative abundance: lanthanides (15 elements), scandium, and yttrium. They can be subdivided into two groups, light rare earth elements, which are more prevalent, and heavy rare earth elements, which are rarer. REEs are used in a host of applications, particularly in oil refining and the production of glass, ceramics, rechargeable batteries, wind turbines, iPods, televisions, high efficiency light bulbs, radar systems, catalytic converters, superconductors, and permanent magnets (especially those used in electric motors). Rare earth element prices vary enormously depending on demand and scarcity, with heavy REEs generally costing more.

Rare earth element mineralizations are typically found in association with alkaline or peralkaline intrusive complexes (granite, syenite, carbonatite, pegmatite), polymetallic iron oxide mineralizations, monazite placers or paleoplacers, and skarns. Bastnaesite and monazite are the most widely mined REEs.

In 2007, more than 96% of REEs came from China (120,000 tons, USGS, 2009), with remaining world production (4,000 tons) coming primarily from India, Brazil, and Malaysia. At present, Canada does not have any operational REE facilities. However, advanced exploration is under way at two locations, the Thor Lake deposit in the Northwest Territories and Hoidas Lake deposit in northern Saskatchewan.

In Québec, the main REE mineralizations are in pegmatites associated with peralkaline intrusive complexes rich in REEs, Y, Zr, and F (type 3), primarily in the Lac Brisson (Strange Lake) area in the Churchill Province, in Nunavik, and in the Kipawa sector in the Grenville Province, in Témiscamingue. Carbonatites intrusions rich in Nb, Ta, REE, and P—like the Niocan deposit in Oka and the Niobec Mine in Lac-Saint-Jean—often contain substantial REE concentrations. Carbonatites containing REEs have also been identified in Abitibi and in the Labrador Trough (type 2). On a worldwide level, this type of intrusion represents a large source of light REEs (bastnaesite). Mineralizations in copper-gold-iron oxide (as at the Olympic Dam), rich in REEs, Y, and U, have also been found in the Côte-Nord’s Manitou-Wakeham region (type 5). In addition, REEs are present in pegmatites rich in U and Th in the Grenville Province and northeast Superior Province (type 6), and again in the calc-silicate rock (skarns) in the south of Grenville Province (type 7).

MRNF Publications available in the SIGEOM-EXAMINE database

The compilation and typology of Québec’s primary rare metal mineralizations that are presented in this article and in Figure 1 come from the following publications:

BOILY, M. and GOSSELIN, C., 2004, Les principaux types de minéralisations en métaux rares (Y-Zr-Nb-Ta-Be-Li-ETR) du Québec, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, ET 2004-01, 46 pages.

GOSSELIN, C., BOILY, M., BEAUMIER, M., LEDUC, M., DION, D.-J., GARNEAU, C., and THÉRIAULT, R., 2003, Les minéralisations en métaux rares (Y-Zr-Nb-Ta-Be-Li-ETR) au Québec, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, DV 2003-03, 1 poster, 1 CD-rom.

In addition, MRNF has published a number of other documents on regions that offer good potential for REE or lithium exploration:

STE-CROIX, L. and DOUCET, P., 2001, Potentiel en métaux rares dans les sous-provinces de l’Abitibi et du Pontiac, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, PRO 2001-08, 14 pages.

BELLEHUMEUR, C. and JÉBRAK, M., 1995, Géochimie des sédiments de lac de la Moyenne-Côte-Nord (sélection des composantes anomales), Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec , MB 95-02 , 80 pages.

JÉBRAK, M., BELLEHUMEUR, C., and NORMAND, C., 1990, Dispersion de l’or et des terres rares dans les ruisseaux de la Gatineau, Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec, MB 90-29, 98 pages.

Other general references

SIDEX Strategic Diversification Newsletter on rare earth elements (Exploring for lanthanides in Quebec), March 2003

SIDEX - Exploring for lanthanides in Québec

Documents published by the United States Geological Survey (USGS):


2009-2010 Geoscientific Programming

Sylvain Lacroix, Jean-Yves Labbé and Charles Maurice
Bureau de l'exploration géologique du Québec (BEGQ), Géologie Québec

Bureau de l'exploration géologique du Québec has developed new geoscientific programming initiatives, designed to increase awareness of the province’s geology and thereby help promote and develop Québec’s mineral potential (PDF Format, 5,7 Mb). Fifteen geoscientific knowledge acquisition projects have been or will be completed in 2009–2010. They fall into three categories: Far North projects, the Copper Plan, and Quaternary Period projects.

Of the six Far North projects (numbers 1 to 6), four are geological inventories (two surveys in the Superior Province, and one each in the Churchill and Grenville Provinces. The Schefferville East Project (number 1) is a multidisciplinary collaboration involving the Canadian and Newfoundland and Labrador governments. The area mapped in summer 2009 was previously the subject of an aerial magnetic survey by the Geological Survey of Canada, while geological and geochemical surveys were carried out southeast of Schefferville in summer 2009 by the Geological Survey of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Far North projects also include a magnetic and spectrometric survey carried out aerially in the James Bay area, as well as geochemical surveys of lake sediments from eastern Grenville Province .

The Copper Plan includes four geoscientific projects (numbers 7 to 10). Three are geological surveys—in the Chapais, Matagami, and northwest Val-d’Or areas respectively—designed to gain insight into the geology of large cupro-zinciferous mining camps or geological regions with significant mining potential. An aerial magnetic survey of a wide swath east of Val-d’Or and Senneterre will help us determine more precisely how far east the Abitibi Belt extends and how far into the Grenville Province.

The Quaternary Period projects include five new initiatives (numbers 11 to 15). Two are inventories involving aggregates in the Outaouais and Abitibi-Témiscamingue areas, which will facilitate planning for highways and other infrastructure for which these materials are used. The other three projects will map superficial deposits in sectors targeted by the Québec groundwater knowledge acquisition plan. They are the direct result of the summer 2009 signing of an agreement with Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs—one of the objectives of the Québec government mineral strategy.

A "sneak preview" of preliminary results of the geological knowledge acquisition projects will be presented at Québec Exploration 2009.

2009 Abitibi Convention Earns High Marks

Sylvain Lacroix and Patrice Roy
Géologie Québec

The 2009 Abitibi Convention, which took place September 28 to October 2, 2009, in the Rouyn-Noranda area, was a resounding success! More than 210 participants took part in various geoscientific activities spread over five days. The event was made possible through the collaboration of Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune du Québec (MRNF-Géologie Québec), the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), the Ontario Geological Survey (OGS), Ordre des géologues du Québec (OGQ), and Association de l’exploration minière du Québec (AEMQ).

On September 28, Ordre des géologues du Québec (OGQ) held its annual general meeting for members. Six presenters discussed "Geological expertise at the heart of the development of Abitibi-Témiscamingue." Daniel Lamothe, geologist with Ministère des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune, received the 2009 OGQ Prix du Mérite for his extensive research to evaluate Québec’s mineral potential.

In addition to the full day of conferences, the 2009 Abitibi Convention offered three days of geological outings that heralded the upcoming conclusion of the Copper Plan and TGI-3 (Targeted Geoscience Initiative), two extensive geoscientific activity programs conducted jointly by MRNF, OGS, and GSC from 2005 to 2010 involving base metals in the Abitibi region of Québec and Ontario.

Two high-level geoscientific conference sessions were presented to a packed house. They addressed the main geological units conducive to the discovery of volcanogenic massive sulfides, glacial deposits in Abitibi, and the ways in which technological developments can aid mining exploration. During the three days in the field, over 120 participants and guides went on geological outings in both Québec and Ontario to many of the Abitibi region’s most productive units for copper-zinc-gold-silver and nickel-copper deposits.

Two original publications have been produced to provide a lasting reference for the conference, a complete abstract of its sessions and a guidebook describing the outings, now available in EXAMINE. This historic event was also captured on film, documenting how three geoscientific organizations came together and worked closely for five years on initiatives that are critical to the Abitibi region.

On September 29, exhibit booths at the AEMQ’s 2009 Explo–Abitibi enjoyed steady traffic and over 100 participants attended two conference meals. At the luncheon conference, Pierre Grenier, Assistant Deputy Minister of Regional Operations, and Robert Marquis, Executive Director of Géologie Québec, discussed how MRNF serves the mining community.

The memorable day concluded with an AEMQ dinner conference featuring Serge Simard, Minister for Natural Resources and Wildlife, who spoke about the Québec Mineral Strategy announced in June 2009.


References :

GM 64195 - Programme de conférences, Congrès Abitibi cuivre 2009, 2009, Par MRNF. 86 pages. (Conferences abstract)

GM 64196 - Excursions géologiques, Congrès Abitibi cuivre 2009, 2009, Par MRNF. 107 pages. (Geological outings)

Industrial Minerals and Gemstones in the Web

To encourage the diversification of mineral exploration in Québec, MRNF has set up two Web sections on industrial minerals and gemstones (in French). You’ll find a wealth of information on various minerals, their properties and uses, types of deposits, geological potential, exploration, development, and market outlooks.

The industrial mineral section went online in March 2003. The first fact sheet dealt with barytine, and since that time six additional fact sheets have been added. The talc, steatite, magnesite, and brucite fact sheets produced in 2004 were the fruit of a partnership between MRNF and SIDEX. The fact sheet on diamonds was completed in 2006, and three more have been produced in 2009 on six industrial minerals:

  • Aluminum silicates (andalusite, kyanite, and sillimanite)
  • Micas (muscovite and phlogopite)
  • Nephaline syenites

A new section on precious, semi-precious, and ornamental gemstones was inaugurated in 2009. The fact sheet on diamonds, previously available on the industrial mineral section, was transferred to the gemstone section.

Over the next year, four new fact sheets—on lithium (spodumene), apatite, feldspaths, and kaolin— will be added to the industrial mineral section. A fact sheet on emeralds will be included on the gemstone section.

Québec Exploration 2009

A session on industrial minerals entitled "Industrial Minerals: At the core of mineral diversification in Québec" will be presented at Québec Exploration 2009 in the afternoon on November 25, 2009.