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Québec geoscience programming in 2013

Patrice Roy and Charles Maurice
Ministère des Ressources naturelles

Québec’s geological exploration bureau, the Bureau de l’exploration géologique du Québec (BEGQ), is responsible for acquiring and processing geoscience knowledge across the province. In 2013–2014, the BEGQ plans to carry out 22 projects in Québec. These projects were made possible thanks to the mining heritage component of the Natural Resources Fund, which is financed by mining taxes. This year, almost $12 million will be invested in geoscience work, and an additional amount of $250,000 will fund the mapping of Quaternary deposits in areas targeted by the municipal groundwater knowledge acquisition program (PACES: Programme d’acquisition de connaissances sur les eaux souterraines du Québec municipalisé). The 22 projects for acquiring new geoscience knowledge will include seven geological surveys, one of which will be a drilling program, five geophysical surveys, three geochemical projects, and seven Quaternary surveys. Mineral potential studies are also part of the plan.

3.1 - Geological surveys

The seven geological surveys are the continuation of already started projects. The goal is to increase knowledge and stimulate exploration in northern Québec and mining regions.

The Churchill–Pyramid Camp project (Project No. 1) is the third year of a five-year mapping plan at a scale of 1:250,000 in the Churchill geological province. In 2013–2014, the project will cover the area southeast of Kuujjuaq, that is, the northeastern part of NTS map sheet 24G and the map sheet 24H.

Two geological surveys will be carried out in the Baie-James area. The Baie-James–Lac des Voeux project (No. 2) covers the eastern extension of the Keyano, Guyer and Corvette volcanosedimentary units. The Baie-James–Lac Pellatan project (No. 3) will focus on better defining the boundary between the La Grande Subprovince to the north and the Opinaca Subprovince to the south.

The Grenville–Okaopeo project (No. 4) consists of mapping at a scale of 1:50,000 to complete the geological synthesis of map sheet 22K. The mineral potential of this region is highly variable and appears to be related mainly to granitic rocks.

A geological survey at a scale of 1:20,000 will be carried out northwest of Chapais (No. 5), in an area with known gold potential, as the continuation of the 2012 project. It will involve mapping part of the contact between the Abitibi and Opatica subprovinces.

The revision of 1:20,000 maps in the Malartic area (No. 6) will continue in the southeast quadrants of NTS map sheets 32D/08 and 32D/01. This work will bridge the gap between mapping work conducted in the western part of the Malartic Group and the mapping in the Val-d’Or Formation to the east. It will also improve the characterization of the Abitibi–Pontiac transition and of known gold and nickel mineralization in the area. This project is a collaborative effort with the Geological Survey of Canada, the Canadian Mining Innovation Council, and several university researchers and mining companies.

3.2 - Geophysical surveys

The Rivière George South and Rivière George North projects (Nos. 8 and 9) will complete the airborne magnetic and spectrometric coverage of the Churchill Subprovince, south of Ungava Bay.

In addition, two projects started in 2012 will be completed. These are the Northern Ungava Orogen project (No. 8), an airborne magnetic and spectrometric survey covering the northern part of the Ungava Peninsula, and the Lac Vallard project (No. 10), an airborne magnetic survey covering the area west of Fermont at the contact between the Grenville and Superior provinces.

Finally, the Gouin project (No. 12) will cover the eastern part of the Gouin reservoir region. The exact area will be determined in the fall, following field surveys. The project will lay the groundwork for a mapping program in the area, which should begin in 2014.

3.3 –Geochemical surveys

The Abitibi-East lake sediment sampling survey (Project No. 13) covers the Caopatina band, the Urban-Barry belt, and the Attic Complex at the southeast end of the Abitibi Subprovince. This area was never covered by lake sediment surveying and was only discontinuously covered by till and stream sediment sampling. It is also a relatively poorly explored area of the Abitibi Subprovince, which is renowned for its excellent mineral potential.

The Nord-East Lac Mistassini project (No. 14) is the only other area in northern Québec where no lake sediment analyses are available.

The Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean till analysis project follows up on regional till sampling carried out in 2010 as ancillary work to the PACES project. The goal of the project is to support exploration in the Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean region.

3.4 - Quaternary surveys

As part of a five-year knowledge acquisition plan in the Churchill geological province, south of Ungava Bay, the Churchill Quaternary mapping and surficial deposit sampling project (No. 1a) will continue in conjunction with the bedrock mapping project (No. 1). The Quaternary project will complete the initiative, which also included geophysical surveys, lake geochemistry surveys, and bedrock mapping, thereby providing an integrated knowledge base for this geological province.

In municipalized Québec, three 1:50,000 Quaternary deposit mapping projects (Nos. 16, 17, 18) that started in 2012 will continue in 2013. These projects will cover the Charlevoix, Nicolet–Saint-François and Chaudière regions. In addition, other projects will be carried out in the Vaudreuil-Soulanges region (No. 19) and the St-Lawrence Lowlands (No. 20). All these projects are intended to support PACES, the MDDEP’s provincial groundwater knowledge acquisition program. Project 16 will be part of a collaboration between the MRN, Université Laval and Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. Projects 17, 18 and 19 will be conducted by Université du Québec à Montréal, while project No. 20 will be carried out as a partnership between the Geological Survey of Canada and UQTR.

Finally, an inventory of aggregate (sand and gravel) resources will also be conducted for the communities of Quaqtaq and Kangiqsujuaq (Project No. 21), in response to a request from the Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMROT). The goal of the inventory is to supply resources needed for the construction of new infrastructure in Nunavik communities, particularly due to problems of melting permafrost.

3.5 –Mineral potential studies

After five drilling programs in the bedrock and Quaternary deposits of the Rivière Bell and Rivière Octave region in the Abitibi, a more in-depth mineral potential study will be conducted in 2013-2014 (Project No. 22). The goal is to better understand the geometry and extent of Quaternary units in the region and to identify pathfinders for discovering new mineralization.

Click on image to enlarge

The Canadian Malartic mine in the southern part of the Abitibi Belt, Québec, Canada: discovery and development of an Archean bulk tonnage gold deposit

Robert Wares, Hon. D.Sc., P. Geo., Chief Geologist, and Sylvie Prud’homme,
B.Sc., P. Geo., Director of Investor Relations
Osisko Mining Corporation

The Canadian Malartic mine of Osisko Mining Corporation is located immediately south of the prolific Cadillac–Larder Lake Fault Zone in the southern part of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt which has produced more than one hundred million ounces of gold since the 1920s. The Canadian Malartic project started in October 2004 with the acquisition, from the liquidator trustee of McWatters Mining, of an initial block of claims covering the site of the former Canadian Malartic mine, an underground operation that produced approximately one million ounces of gold from 1935 to 1965. At the time, most mining companies considered the site to be completely stripped of its potential and in need of environmental rehabilitation, and nothing more.

In 2004, Osisko Exploration Ltd was a junior exploration company with only three full-time employees and a market cap below $5 million. The success of the company can be attributed, above all, to its innovative strategy: discover and define a bulk tonnage, low-grade, open pit mineable gold deposit by applying an unconventional geological model to the Abitibi region, namely an Archean porphyry gold deposit model. Since early 2004, Osisko concentrated its efforts on the Québec part of the Archean Superior Province. Compilation work focused on public data, most of which were extracted from the Québec government’s online geoscience database (SIGEOM), and was used to find areas with characteristics of gold porphyry systems. The research identified the former Canadian Malartic mine site as a high-priority target. Moreover, upon acquiring the initial claim block, Osisko gained access to a valuable unpublished paper database, which documented the historical operations at the Canadian Malartic mine as well as more recent exploration programs carried out on the property, particularly during the 1980s when Lac Minerals Ltd attempted to define a small resource inventory at shallow depth, mineable by open pit. The digitization, compilation and analysis of this vast database over the next four months, including more than 4,500 logs for surface and underground drill holes, allowed Osisko to refine the geological model for the property and confirm the potential for a bulk tonnage deposit.

The decision to proceed with the project was not easy, even in the face of successful exploration and resource definition phases, because the construction and eventual operation of an open pit mine next to the Town of Malartic would necessitate relocating the entire southern neighbourhood. As a result, right from the start, the project was received with a lot of skepticism from the Abitibi mining community for both economic and social reasons.

Seven years after acquiring the initial claim block, drilling more than 750,000 metres, filing a positive feasibility study in November 2008, obtaining a governmental order-in-council authorizing the project in August 2009, and raising a billion dollars in financing, the construction and start up of the Canadian Malartic open pit gold mine were completed. Commercial production, at 60% of nameplate capacity, was reached in May 2011 and has increased gradually since then. The throughput design capacity of 55,000 tonnes per day should be attained by the end of the second quarter in 2013, allowing the mine to produce 450,000 to 600,000 ounces of gold per year, making it one of the biggest gold mines in Canada. Proven and probable reserves (at US$1,200 per ounce) presently stand at 10.7 million ounces of gold (343.7 Mt @ 0.97 g/t Au), which are included in the NI 43-101-compliant global in situ measured and indicated resource estimate of 11.80 million ounces of gold (352.7 Mt @ 1.04 g/t Au), effectively cementing Canadian Malartic’s position as a deposit of world class calibre.

The history of the Canadian Malartic project is a perfect example of how applying modern empirical metallogenic models to already mined areas, and even using their old databases, can lead to success and world class discoveries.

Québec Mines 2013 - a program to suit everyone

Jean-Yves Labbé,
Ministère des Ressources naturelles

In less than five months, from November 11 to 14, the annual meeting between the mining industry and the Ministère des Ressources naturelles will take place once again. Québec Mines 2013, a veritable marketplace for the geosciences and mineral resources, will offer a quality program with great variety. Here is a taste of what to expect.

Technical program


Monday, November 11, will be dedicated to training. Building on last year’s Northern Québec geology and mineral deposit workshop, this year’s similar workshop will focus on the Grenville Province. The introduction to metallurgy workshop will return to the program, as will the popular CONSOREM workshop on what’s new in exploration tools. A workshop on the use of geographic information systems in the mining industry will also be presented with the collaboration with ESRI Canada. Other workshops may be added to the program, so stay tuned through the Québec Mines website!


Seminars on solutions to mining problems will be organized with the support of Québec International. On Monday, November 11, a workshop organized by the Cercle de l’industrie de l’optique-photonique and Québec International will examine the types of services the optics-photonics sector can offer the mining industry. And on Wednesday, November 13, it will be Québec Mines’ turn to present an activity showcasing the search for solutions. Attendees at these workshops will focus on resolving a range of problems specific to the mining industry.


Again this year, Québec Mines will offer fascinating and enriching talks for every field of interest. In all, 12 conference sessions and a plenary session will be on the program.

Tuesday, November 12

The convention will start with a plenary session on the responsibility of the industry, governments and communities in mine development. What role must each one play to ensure harmonious development? Specialists in these matters will be on hand to give their opinions.

In the afternoon, two sessions will be on the program. As with last year, geologists from the Ministry will present the results of their annual field work in a session on new geological data from Québec. The second session will focus on the importance of innovation in the mining process, from the mapping stage to site rehabilitation.

Wednesday, November 13

Wednesday will be a full day. Six distinct thematic sessions will take place in three conference halls. A session on copper will start the day, examining issues of markets, metallogeny, mining and processing. Two sessions on mining will round out the morning program: one on geo-mechanical challenges in Québec mines, and the other on gold ore processing.

Delegates will also be pleased with the afternoon’s offerings: two technical sessions on mine engineering challenges and comminution, and a third session on the important topic of the social aspect in sustainable development and corporate responsibility.

Thursday, November 14

Four sessions will be on Thursday’s program. In the morning, the first session will address the environmental issues of sustainable development: the impact of mines on the environment, environmental monitoring, and mine site rehabilitation. The second session will focus on Quaternary geology, specifically the topics of modelling, indicator minerals, geochemical pathfinders, and other useful exploration tools.

Québec Mines will wrap up Thursday with two afternoon sessions: one on the economic aspects of sustainable development, focusing on the “sustainable” component of “non-renewable” resources, and another on alkaline intrusions, everything from exploration to restoration, by examining their geology, metallogeny, ore processing and the environmental issues related to mining their strategic commodities.

First International Forum of Young Leaders in Responsible Mine Development

A call for application

Québec Mines 2013, to be held from November 11 to 14 at the Québec City Convention Centre, will host the first International Forum of Young Leaders in Responsible Mine Development (“Foruminternational des jeunes leaders en développement minier responsible”). The main theme of this first edition will be responsible mine management from a perspective of sustainable development, social acceptability and environmental protection.

Organized by the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec, in collaboration with the Offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec (LOJIQ), including the Office franco-québécois pour la jeunesse (OFQJ), as well as other partners at the national and international levels, this forum is aimed at young leaders from the educational, public and private sectors.

This event will allow young leaders from the province, the rest of Canada, and other countries, particularly French-speaking countries, to develop a better understanding of the needs and challenges faced by the mining industry at the regional, national and international levels. The forum will allow participants to share their viewpoints and experiences in a context of intercultural cooperation. The main emphasis will be on the contributions of scientific and technical research, and on sharing best practices and innovative solutions.

In addition to benefitting from talks and workshops, those in attendance will also have an opportunity to take part in networking events in an atmosphere conducive to the exchange of ideas. Finally, participants can also learn about opportunities for studies and professional development by attending other activities with this focus during the Québec Mines convention.

Are you between 18 and 35 years old and interested in attending? Apply before the deadline of August 15, 2013!

The Great Charlevoix ShakeOut

Shaking things up in Charlevoix on September 26, 2013

Seismic risks vary from one region to another. In Canada, the Charlevoix region is considered to be a high-risk seismic zone. In fact, it is the most seismically active region in Eastern Canada, with an average of 200 tremors per year. The strongest known earthquake in Québec occurred on February 5, 1663 and its epicentre was in the Charlevoix-Kamouraska region. Likely a magnitude 7 on the Richter scale, the quake shook most of Québec and was even felt in New York City.

On September 26, 2013, at 10:36 am, thousands of people in the Charlevoix region will practice what is widely recognized to be the safest protective technique during a major quake—“Drop, Cover, and Hold On!”—as part of the Great Charlevoix ShakeOut, the largest earthquake preparedness drill in Eastern Canada!

T he Great Charlevoix ShakeOut is Québec’s version of the Great Californian ShakeOut. The Charlevoix region will add its name to the long list of regions that hold these drills every year, including California, British Columbia, Puerto Rico and Japan.

This activity is just one of many that will commemorate the biggest earthquakes in Québec. Throughout 2013, the subject of earthquakes will be examined in a positive and preventive manner, and the anniversaries of the most notable moments in the province’s seismic history will be highlighted, including the 350th anniversary of the Les Éboulements Quake, the 25th anniversary of the Saguenay Quake, and the 25th anniversary of the region’s emergency measures organization, the Comité d’organisation des mesures d’urgence régionales de Charlevoix-Est.

For more information and to sign up, visit www.grandesecousse.org.

Optics-photonics and geographic information technologies at the service of the mining industry: a success story!

Marie-Pier Arcand, MBA
Québec International

During the Québec Mines 2012 convention, held last November in the city of Québec, two workshops on problem resolution were organized by Québec International in collaboration with the Ministère des Ressources naturelles. These workshops highlighted expertise from the mining industry as well as businesses in the optics-photonics and geographic information sectors of the Capitale-Nationale applied technology niche of excellence.

Optics-photonics: a promising encounter

On Monday, November 26, the Cercle de l’industrie optique-photonique (CIOP) held a business development day entirely dedicated to the mining industry. More than a dozen problems, potentially solvable using various optics-photonics technologies, were presented during the event. Representatives from Niobec, Intelligence Stratégique Internationale, and Technologies & Services Oxx were on hand to assist specialists from the optics-photonics sector in clearly identifying and defining the issues. The medium-term economic benefits for businesses in the Québec metropolitan region were estimated at more than $1 million. Those in attendance took advantage of the opportunity to create a strategic work group comprising representatives from the optics-photonics and mining industries.

Geographic information: a productive workshop

On Wednesday, November 28, it was Géospatial Québec’s turn to hold a business development day dedicated to the mining sector. In attendance were representatives from the Canadian Space Agency, the Ministère des Ressources naturelles du Québec, CAE Mines and Boréalis. The group discussed several mining industry problems potentially solvable by experts in geographic information. More than 75% of the participants estimated they would see medium-term economic benefits of nearly $2 million.

These activities, organized in collaboration with the Ministère des Ressources naturelles, were a great success, with businesses in attendance expressing satisfaction at having attained their objectives.

Notions of integrity in geological compilation

Ghislain Roy
Ministère des Ressources naturelles

It was in the early 1990s that the first geological maps were compiled in the Sigeom geomining information system. At the time, the aim was to provide digital geological coverage of the province by integrating, into one central database, all geology work carried out since the middle of the 19th century. The geological knowledge was gathered from a variety of documents, such as geological reports and graduate theses.

From visualizing to structuring

In the beginning, the goal of geological data compilation using Sigeom was digital cartography and the focus was mainly on data visualization, such as traditional paper maps. The system could tolerate errors introduced during the digitization process if they did not influence the cartographic representation. Representations at different scales or using different perception levels could even conceal some errors of a structural nature. Besides, at the time, Sigeom was held back more by visualization issues than by data structuring problems.

With the arrival of geographic information systems (GIS) and data processing, analytical operations and reasoning rapidly dethroned visualization as the main functionality. These processes exploit all aspects of spatial information, including the shape and location of the objects as well as their attributes. Contrary to visualization, analytical and processing operations are directly affected by errors since the results can be used by decision-support systems. Quality controls based solely on visual features are no longer sufficient because this approach only results in the elimination of errors detectable by the naked eye. Moreover, apparent consistency in cartographic representation does not necessarily guarantee consistency in the source database. For example, a geological zone represented by a closed region (polygon) on a map may not be so in the database. Furthermore, errors do not all have the same repercussions on spatial operations. Some may simply prevent a result from being obtained, whereas others may lead to inconsistent results during more complex operations. The quality of the data (in both spatial and descriptive terms) is therefore a major consideration for any organization using geographic information systems, and Sigeom is no exception.

Towards data integrity

In 2010, Sigeom underwent a major shift as GIS technologies became established in the production of geological data, and earlier tools, such as MicroStation, were abandoned. The transformation revealed numerous problems in the database. In early 2011, a data validation project was set up to conduct a complete review of the geological coverage, both in terms of geological entities and attribute tables. At the same time, all aspects of the production and update processes were reviewed and modified in order to introduce notions of integrity. This undertaking, which will affect the entire set of geological data compiled over the past 20 years, should be completed by early 2014.

How to display and use data from Sigeom's web mapping service

Caroline Thorn et Luc Charbonneau
Ministère des Ressources naturelles

In November 2012, Géologie Québec announced the arrival of new online Web mapping services (WMS) for Sigeom in an article published in the Québec Mines bulletin (Thorn, 2012). To follow up on that article, here is a more technical explanation on how to integrate the data into your geographic information system (GIS).

Web mapping services

A WMS is a standardized service that displays georeferenced data and geographic maps in a GIS. A WMS server sends the GIS-requested image over the Internet. The GIS (or the webpage) overlays all the images and produces the desired map.

With a WMS, the user does not have to worry about format, coordinate system, or storing the spatial data. The user has access to the most recent and accurate data by virtue of the access to the authentic data source. A WMS allows the user to complete an existing data set, facilitates the gathering of new data, or simply displays (visualizes) the data. Another functionality allows additional information to be obtained for each of the geographic elements imported into the map.

Despite the many advantages of using a WMS, there are some limitations that should be taken into account. For example, a WMS will not allow the user to perform a data search or download data.

Accessing the data

A WMS is integrated into a project through an intermediary URL address that contains parameters related to the requested data, coordinate system, area of interest, etc. Today, most geographic information systems have a function that allows the user to add georeferenced data using a Web mapping service.

To learn more about how to integrate Sigeom data into your projects using Web mapping services, download the Sigeom Web services user’s guide (PDF format). It provides a step-by-step description of the procedure for several types of software, open-source or proprietary, including Quantum GIS, OpenJUMP, uDIG and ArcGIS.

The Field School in North America – A Productive Partnership!

Patrice Roy, Ministère des Ressources naturelles
Denis Bois, URSTM-UQAT
Anne-Sylvie André-Mayer, Université de Lorraine

The sixth edition of the Field School took place from May 5 to 27, 2013. In all, ten students from France and Morocco came to perfect their knowledge of applied geology. During the two-week training session, students were able to learn about the geology of Abitibi and about North American geological mapping and mineral exploration methods. The course was completed by three months of practical workplace training. Overall, the Field School program offers a unique chance for foreign students to learn more about the geology of Québec and also to identify longer-term job opportunities in Québec. As for the companies concerned, they have an opportunity to expand their pool of candidates with a view to meeting their qualified staffing needs.