April 2015    Print this article

SIGÉOM's aggregate resource inventory module

André Brazeau
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles

Since 1985, the MERN has been carrying out an aggregate resource inventory program, specifically for sand and gravel in surface deposits. The documents are intended to serve as basic tools for operators seeking new supplies, and to make land planners aware of the extent and magnitude of aggregate resources in a given area to ensure better land use management and the responsible extraction of these non-renewable resources.

The inventory work is presented as reports and maps. Each report provides information on the location and origin of aggregate deposits in a specific region (a geographic zone containing appreciable amounts of aggregate material), as well as a detailed description of known aggregate resource sites (quarry sites). In addition, the resource potential for each aggregate deposit is assessed using three criteria: deposit thickness, mineability (water table depth, homogeneity, etc.) and aggregate quality. Quality is defined by physico-mechanical properties determined through laboratory test work on samples collected during field work. A scoring system was developed based on these criteria, and three categories of deposit were defined. Class 1 deposits represent the best supply sources, followed by class 2 and 3 deposits. Each report also contains a brief description of the geomorphology, Quaternary geology and geochronology of the principal glacial and postglacial events, as well as the region’s bedrock geology. The inventory method, a description of the aggregate deposit assessment criteria, and other relevant factors regarding the inventory work are presented in the report MB 93-19 (Brazeau 1993) (in French).

Inventory documents can be ordered or viewed online in digital or paper format through Examine. The contents of the digitized maps and reports from Examine are static; that is, they will not be subject to modifications or updates. To date, 55 inventory reports have been published, and more than 120 NTS map sheets at 1:50,000 scale have been mapped in part or in whole. 

There has been a comprehensive effort over the past two years to digitize information that was only available in paper format. This information, with more to come, is now available in a new aggregate resource module (Sand and gravels, Aggregates deposits) in SIGÉOM (Système d’Information Géominière du Québec). This database, which contains geologic information from government surveys and exploration work conducted by the mining industry, will integrate all data on aggregates that have been collected since the start of work in 1985. Some types of data are not available in the current reports, such as the allocation of points for each deposit, thorough descriptions of aggregate sites and quarry faces, and descriptions of observation sites other than quarries. Some maps are already available online. The complete work should be available next year.  

The search engine for SIGÉOM à la Carte allows the client to conduct a search using any of several criteria: NTS sheet, deposit class, municipality, type of material (sand, coarse sand, gravel), average deposit thickness, aggregate quality (laboratory test results), origin of the deposit, related “Examine” documents, etc. If necessary, it is possible to order the search results. The delivery formats are geographic database files in ArcGIS, geodatabase (FGDB) and ShapeFile formats. It is also possible to conduct searches and visualize the results in Google Earth or to locate them on an interactive map. The result will display all aggregate deposits and their categories (class 1, 2 or 3; indicated by different colours) across the province. The user will also have access to a quick summary for each case, with the option of ordering the complete description.

This digital information represents the most current and up-to-date data. Moreover, this new way of doing things will also accelerate data disclosure and distribution, and ensure long-term public accessibility to the information. 


Brazeau A. (1993): Généralités sur l’inventaire des ressources en granulats au Québec. Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources. MB 93-19, 38 pages.

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