The Ungava Trough
Exceptional Potential for the Platinum Group Elements
After investing nearly 500M$ since 1997,
Raglan Mining, a 100% subsidiary of Falconbridge Ltd., now
produces nearly 26,000 tonnes of nickel concentrate annually
at its Raglan mine. Initially, the company forecasted an operational
life of 25 years, annually producing 21,000 tonnes
of nickel concentrate, 5,000 tonnes of copper concentrate,
and 200 tonnes of cobalt concentrate.
Raglan Mining facilities.
The Ungava Trough has a long history of exploration
for nickel and copper, with the first mention dating back to the
end of the 19th century. It wasn't until 1937, however,
that the first indications of copper and nickel in the Cape Smith
- Wakeham Bay area were discovered by Murray Watts. They were then
developed in over subsequent decades by different companies.
The Ungava Trough: An Exceptional
but Barely Developed Potential.
During the 1950's, a number of companies
became interested in the Ungava Trough at the same time that
geological mapping work was being carried out by the gouvernement du Québec. Many showings and deposits were discovered at that
time, including the Delta and Expo-Ungava deposits as well
as a number of deposits in the Raglan mining camp (Figure 1).
Around mid 1980's, the Ungava Trough became a target area
for platinum exploration.
In 1997, High North Resources, under
Ungava Minerals Corporation's option, carried out a drilling program
(1,038 m), mapping, and airborne / land-based geophysical surveys
of the Expo-Ungava property. The program revealed that the Expo-Ungava
deposit was formed of massive sulfide lenses at the base of ultramafic
sills injected into the Povungnituk Group. The geochemical signature
of these ultramafic sills is similar to ultramafic suites of sills
and cogenetic flows forming the Chukotat Group (Picard et al. 1995,
MB 94-30). The geological model suggests that sulfides accumulated
in troughs at the base of a continuous ultramafic lava flow or sill
that opens towards the west. The trough is truncated to the west
by a thrust fault that juxtaposes sedimentary and volcanic rocks.
A number of remobilized massive sulfide lenses occur within the
sediment in the fault walls.
In 2001, Canadian Royalties Inc., under Ungava
Minerals Corporation's option (Figure 1)
uncovered significant amounts of platinum and palladium as the result
of a new analysis of cores taken during the 1997 drilling program.
During the initial program, drill cores were assayed for nickel,
copper, and cobalt, but not for the platinum group elements (platinum,
palladium, and rhodium).
Furthermore, works carried out by the company in
summer 2001 revealed mineralization along a length of 732 m
in the east-west axis, averaging 107 m along the north-south
During the same period, Canadian Royalties Inc.
discovered significant amounts of platinum, palladium, nickel, and
copper as the result of works done on a new showing (Phoenix), located
on the TK property, 20 km south of the Raglan mining camp and
7 km northeast of Expo-Ungava. The mineralization comprises
massive sulfides near the base of an ultramafic sill (TK sill) similar
The work carried out by Canadian Royalties reveals an outstanding
potential for PGE's associated to ultramafic sills cogenetic to
the Chukotat Group injected into the Povungnituk Group. Indeed,
the Povungnituk is currently one of the most promising sectors for
mineral exploration in Québec due to its significant amounts of
lava and mafic and ultramafic sills. All that remains now is to
find sufficient volume to make mining of these elements economically
feasible, which looks exceptionally promising.