Québec Mining Week will take place from May 8 to 14, 2017 and focus on the inner strengths of the mining industry.
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles
Québec Mining Week, organized by the Québec Mining Association, will take place from May 8 to 14, 2017 and focus on the inner strengths of the mining industry.
Numerous activities during Québec Mining Week afford Quebecers an opportunity to discover the Québec mining sector’s vitality. On the strength of its expertise in the sector, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles will participate in two activities on Saturday, May 13, 2017. The first activity will take place at the Carrefour du Nord-Ouest in Val-d’Or and the second one at Les Promenades Beauport in Québec City. Please consult the online program (in French only) for the full list of activities.
Moreover, Québec Mines will disseminate a quiz on its Facebook page. One question per day will test participants’ knowledge and enable them to discover the diversity and wealth of the Québec mining sector.
Every year, the Québec mining industry generates, on average, nearly $3 billion in investments and supports nearly 30 000 direct and indirect jobs. The Québec mining industry is also noteworthy for:
Together, let’s celebrate the vitality of Québec’s mining sector.
Youcef Larbi, Chief Geologist, Ph. D.
Cree Mineral Exploration Board
Québec has always ranked among the best areas in the world to explore mineral potential and develop mines, and has long been one of the world’s main mineral producers. And yet, more than two-thirds of Québec’s territory remains unexplored or has only been partially explored. Many of these unexplored areas are located in Northern Québec, in the James Bay region, on Eeyou Istchee land.
Fuchsite in the Chisasibi region.
Mining activity has literally exploded in Eeyou Istchee in the last eight years. It has not yet reached Klondike proportions, but it clearly signals the beginning of a mineral rush. Prospecting activity in the area has quadrupled in recent years, and seems likely to increase even more in the coming years. What we are seeing now is probably only the tip of the iceberg. And once deposits of interest are discovered, mining operations may have significant impacts on the lives of local Aboriginal populations, and on the economies of the Cree communities of Eeyou Istchee.
Most of the region’s ore is world class, and many mining companies expect their operations to last for more than 20 years. This offers the possibility of long-term jobs and economic benefits for the Crees.
Cree prospectors around an
iron deposit in Whapmagoostui.
The Cree Mineral Exploration Board (CMEB) works closely with the region’s exploration companies to ensure that the Cree population benefits from mineral exploration, and that the impacts of projects and other work are positive.
For all the reasons listed above, the CMEB was set up by the Crees under the Peace of the Braves and Chapter 5 of the Agreement Concerning a New Relationship Between the Gouvernement du Québec and the Crees of Québec. The CMEB’s mandate is to encourage and facilitate the development of mineral exploration companies within the region. Article 5.3 of the Agreement also describes the financial conditions and main aims of the CMEB, which are to:
Henry Salt, one of the pioneers of
mineral resource prospecting.
a) facilitate access to the territory for the mining industry;
b) assist the Crees in accessing mining and investment opportunities;
c) facilitate the development of mineral exploration activities by Cree enterprises;
d) facilitate and encourage access by the Crees and Cree enterprises to regular Québec program funding and other forms of support for mineral exploration activities;
e) act as an intermediary between the Crees and the mining industry for offers of Cree services.
Below is an illustration showing the CMEB’s fields of intervention in two steps of the mineral exploration phase leading to the discovery of mineable mineral deposits.
The communities and the CMEB train Cree workers, preparing them for some of the 300 jobs that should be available. At the Stornoway diamond mine, for example, 20% of the jobs are held by Cree employees.
Mineral exploration and mining activities need essential services, including supplies of goods and services and infrastructures to ship and market the ore. Contractors are already working with the Cree communities to ensure that these services and supplies are available.
Despite the obvious economic benefits of increased mining activity, the CMEB also acknowledges the potential disadvantages for the Aboriginal lifestyle, in human and natural environmental terms. Trapping and hunting may be affected, the traditional Cree lifestyle may be threatened, and the region’s budding tourist industry may suffer. And of course, there is always a risk to the environment.
The CMEB works closely with the mining companies and oversees their activities. CMEB representatives intervene with young people in schools, as well as with trappers, hunters and elders, making sure they are aware of and understand the mining culture. They listen to their audience and are sensitive to the concerns about exploration activities expressed by the communities and their residents.
The Crees are familiar with mining activity and what may be done, both positively and negatively. They know of other Northern regions in which the mining companies have simply terminated their activities and left, without restoring the environment. And they know of and acknowledge those that have taken the time and made the effort to restore the environment properly.
The CMEB and the Cree communities have joined forces to ensure that mineral exploration activities in James Bay are carried out responsibly and generate direct benefits for the Cree population. Today, there are between 400 and 420 active mining projects in the Eeyou Istchee territory. More than 90% of these projects are run by companies that have undertaken to comply with the high standards we have set for them. Four of them are Cree enterprises:
Our challenge is to generate more interest in the mineral sector among members of the Cree population, while ensuring a good and mutually beneficial relationship between the local Aboriginal population and representatives of mineral exploration companies wishing to use the resources available in Eeyou Istchee.
Louis Bienvenu, Mining Engineer
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelle
In the steel production process, there are two main steps: the extraction of iron ore and its transformation into steel. But what about pelletizing? Is it a mining or a metallurgical activity?
Iron ore is the rock that is extracted from the mine and contains iron minerals in sufficiently high proportions to justify its extraction. It also contains other unwanted minerals, known as gangue.
Iron mineral pelletizing is part of the work done at specialized mine plants to generate a product that can be used as feed in blast furnaces or at direct reduction plants. Iron mineral pelletizing results in better performance in blast furnaces by facilitating the circulation of air and gases between the different components of the blast furnace charge.
Historically, the raw material for blast furnaces was fragments of iron ore from high-grade deposits. The extraction of these fragments generated large quantities of fine-grained ore that had to be discarded because it could not be used in blast furnaces.
The decline in the availability of high-grade iron ore has driven the development of fine particle agglomeration processes to meet the demands of blast furnaces. The diminishing number of high-grade ore deposits also led to the mining of lower-grade deposits, including taconite deposits that had previously been ignored. However, this lower-grade ore required fine grinding to liberate and concentrate the grains. Finally, this concentrate must be agglomerated for use in blast furnaces, which led to the development of the pelletizing process.
The first step in making pellets is to finely crush the mineral concentrate to remove as much barren gangue as possible. The resulting product is then mixed with additives to obtain the desired chemical composition and to ensure grain cohesion during the pelletizing step. The mixture is pelletized by the rotating action of a disc or drum. Finally, the pellets are heated in furnaces to make them hard enough to be handled and then sent to blast furnaces. Heating does not modify the internal structure of the iron oxide grains. Strictly speaking, processing is not involved.
Other organizations or regulations that address the issue of iron mineral pelletizing include:
Considering the nature of iron mineral pelletizing activities and the manner in which pelletizing is classified by NAICS codes, the Comité sectoriel de main-d’œuvre de l’industrie des mines, the Mining Act, the Regulation respecting a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emission allowances, and the Regulation respecting occupational health and safety in mines, it is recommended that pelletizing be considered and presented as part of iron ore mining activities and not iron mineral transformation activities (ironworking).
Sophie Proulx, ing.
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelle
Québec has throughout its territory 499 abandoned mine sites; that is, that those responsible are unknown or insolvent. Of these 499 sites, 263 are mineral exploration sites requiring only clean-up work, 6 are quarries or sand pits, and 230 are mining sites. Of the latter, 127 require only monitoring and maintenance because they have already been reclaimed or that all mine openings have been secured. Work is underway at 18 sites, with a total estimated cost of over $415 million. Thirty-nine sites still require reclamation and 46 sites need to be secured.
As of March 31, 2016, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN) has recorded $1.22 billion in mining-related environmental liabilities, including $803.4 million for currently abandoned mine sites and $418.3 million for mine sites where the MERN may have to intervene given the precarious financial status of those responsible. Since 2006, the MERN has invested $134 million in the reclamation, safety, maintenance and monitoring of abandoned mine sites.
Past operations at abandoned mine sites typically generated mine tailings deposited without containment structures as well as dating back several decades. As a result, the majority of these sites have an impact on the environment and public health. Their reclamation presents a considerable challenge given the areas affected, the context in which the work must be carried out as well as the environmental issues involved (acid mine drainage, contaminated neutral mine drainage and any other contamination related to industrial activities associated with mining and milling, including the maintenance of equipment or machinery).
In its 2016-2017 budget, the Government of Québec committed to reducing its mining-related environmental liabilities by 80% by the year 2022. The planning of abandoned mine sites reclamation involves a prioritization process based on actual and anticipated impacts assessment a site may have on the environment or human health. In order to restore abandoned mine sites efficiently, the MERN’s global approach to planning reclamation activities takes advantage of the synergy that may result from the simultaneous reclamation of several sites. In this way, site reclamation planning aims to reduce the overall environmental footprint of mining-related environmental liabilities, in turns providing economic and logistical benefits, while creating opportunities to recover tailings or waste rock as value-added materials.
The MERN's approach to abandoned mine sites reclamation consists of six main steps:
In order to better define the environmental impacts of Québec’s abandoned mine sites, some 20 sites will be assessed over the next three years.
In addition, reclamation work is underway at 18 abandoned mine sites, meaning that preliminary site assessment is in progress or completed, and another 39 sites remain to be reclaimed.
Aerial view of Barvue site
The rehabilitation projects underway and those planned for the coming years are as follows:
Reclamation work on New Calumet site.
In 2015, 192 abandoned mine sites were visited by MERN inspectors to verify, among other things, that all mine openings have been secured. Maintenance and safety work was carried at seven of those sites: Duhamel-Ouest, Normétal and Wood-Cadillac in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Opémiska in Nord-du-Québec, Back & Smith and Derry in Outaouais, and Montréal in Chaudières-Appalaches.
In addition, water quality monitoring was performed in 2015 at 18 mine sites that have been reclaimed or where reclamation work is in progress.
It should be noted that the MERN conducts annual inspections of abandoned mine sites in order to determine the potential risks to the environment and human safety, and to plan maintenance and security work. Security work mainly consists of restricting access to old mine openings by backfilling them or by installing fences or concrete slabs.
The elaboration of a reclamation scenario involves multiple steps: selection of the scenario, validation or optimization, permitting, and the preparation of plans and specifications.
Come and SHARE with all mining development stakeholders and take advantage of the opportunity to INNOVATE by constantly broadening your knowledge. What better way in 2017 to EXCEL even more?
Once again this year, the congress will offer a full, varied program on topics related to key themes such as exploration, exploitation, the environment, the economy and communities. Join us and take advantage of more than 100 speeches, 10 training sessions and several networking activities featuring key figures from the mining sector.
The Québec Mines exhibition room is the ideal place to participate in networking events and broaden your relations in the mining sector. Moreover, it is an excellent place to do business. Reserve your space today.
Don’t miss the Québec mining industry’s leading congress, from November 20 to 23, 2017.
James Moorhead and Patrice Roy
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN)
The mission of the MERN’s Bureau de la connaissance géoscientifique du Québec (BCGQ) is to acquire and process geoscientific information in Québec thus ensuring that our mineral resources are developed responsibly. In 2017-2018, the BCGQ plans to carry out 23 projects in Québec, 20 of which will take place in the area covered by the Plan Nord. The projects include:
These projects have been made possible thanks to support from the Mining Heritage component of the Natural Resource Fund, which is financed out of mining taxes. Once again this year, the planned $12 million available for geoscientific work will be increased by an amount of $3 million, to speed up characterization of the Plan Nord area.