Exploration and deposit appraisal activities
The 2004 year was the most active for mining exploration
in Québec since the end of the 1980’s. According to
preliminary data, exploration and development expenditures reached
204 million dollars, representing an increase of 70 million (52%)
compared to 2003 and the fourth consecutive annual increase. The
204 million dollar amount equals 4.1% of the worldwide exploration
budget, which totaled 3.8 billion dollars US in 2004 according to
the Metals Economics Group. This puts Québec in 6th place
when compared to a list of the most explored countries in the world
Intense exploration for the following commodities
was the reason behind Québec’s strong upswing in expenditures:
- precious metals – an increase of 41 million (61%), reaching
110 million dollars;
- base metals – an increase of 9 million (46%), reaching
61 million dollars;
- diamonds – an increase of 9 million (48%), reaching 27
||MRNF, Secteur des mines, Direction du développement
minéral, Service de l’imposition et des données
minières (for data related to Québec);
Metals Economics Group (for worldwide data).
||2004P refers to preliminary data.
2005CI means companies’ intentions for 2005.
A detailed description of many of Québec’s exploration
and development projects can be found in the MRNF Report
on mineral exploration activities, or by accessing the 2004
link from the Hot
Spots web page. A number of projects worth mentioning are summarized
Gold in Northwestern Québec
- Alexis Minerals Corporation and Noranda intersected auriferous
veins that assayed 3.19 g/t over 15 metres while drilling their
Noralex property. The property lies 10 km northwest of the Doyon
and Mouska mines.
- Agnico-Eagle Mines began rehabilitation work on the mining
infrastructure at its Goldex property near Val-d’Or. Approximately
10 million dollars will be invested to improve the degree of confidence
in its probable reserve estimate of 21.77 million tonnes at 2.4
- At its Croinor property, South Malartic Exploration recovered
1,981 ounces of gold during a bulk sampling of 20,000 tonnes that
was completed in February. The company also announced that it
had reached an agreement with the Camflo mill to process 65,000
tonnes of ore from July to December 2004.
- To the east of Val-d’Or, drilling by Alexis Minerals Corporation
on the Hogg showing – part of the company’s Cadillac
Group project – intersected a skarn-type mineralized zone
yielding values of 21.2 g/t gold and 0.56% copper over 3.8 metres.
- North of the Selbaie mine, International Taurus Resources and
Fairstar Explorations recovered 3,428 ounces of gold from an 8,300
tonne bulk sample at the Fenelon deposit. An estimate of measured
(4,002 tonnes at 18.36 g/t) and indicated resources (52,255 tonnes
at 19.71 g/t) was announced for the central zone.
- In the central part of the Urban-Barry belt, 120 km east of
Lebel-sur-Quévillon, Noront Resources conducted a drilling
program on its Windfall property. Several holes intersected pyritic
zones containing significant gold grades, including 8.55 g/t gold
over 13.4 metres.
Copper, zinc and gold in Northwestern Québec
- On October 1st, Campbell Resources completed almost 9,000 m
of definition drilling at the Copper Rand mine in Chibougamau.
Extraction of the copper-gold ore began in November and commercial
production should begin in January 2005.
- In the Matagami region, drilling by Noranda intersected massive
and semi-massive sulfides over 6.9 metres at a depth of 465 metres.
The new showing, named “Renaissance”, is located seven
kilometres southeast of the company’s concentration mill.
- West of Rouyn-Noranda, partners Noranda and Alexis Minerals
Corporation revealed an impressive intersection on the Lac Montbray
property: 5.16 metres at 5.61% copper, 1.70% zinc, 0.34 g/t gold
and 17.6 g/t silver. The zone was reached at a vertical depth
of 110 m.
Gold, zinc and diamonds in the James Bay territory
- In the Near North, close to the Opinaca reservoir, Virginia
Gold Mines defined a rich gold-bearing system using surface fieldwork
and drilling. The zone extends over a lateral distance of approximately
300 metres and a depth of more than 225 m. The project, known
as “Eléonore”, consists of two main zones:
Roberto (18.85 g/t gold over 16 m) and Roberto Est (4.05 g/t gold
over 17 m). This new, strongly auriferous gold environment has
generated enormous interest, leading to the acquisition of a large
number of claims in the area.
- In the La Grande greenstone belt, Virginia Gold Mines and its
partner Noranda announced the discovery of volcanogenic massive
sulfide horizons on the Coulon property:
- the DOM zone (9.94% zinc, 2.12% lead, 0.73% copper and 96.38
g/t silver over 19.5 m);
- and the DOM NORD zone (12.65% zinc, 1.54% lead, 1.36% copper,
125.31 g/t silver and 0.3 g/t gold over 4.7 m).
- Ashton Mining of Canada and SOQUEM invested approximately 18
million dollars north of the Otish Mountains to conduct a bulk
sampling program comprising 635 tonnes of kimberlitic rocks collected
from the Renard cluster. The planned target is 300 to 400 carats
in order to properly evaluate the diamond value. A 415-tonne bulk
sample collected in 2004 from drill core and reverse circulation
drilling yielded 282 carats of diamonds, including 12 stones
weighing more than one carat. The processing of a 3.87-tonne sample
of float from the Lynx property also yielded an estimated diamond
content of 120 carats per 100 tonnes.
- Majescor Resources confirmed the discovery of several kimberlite
blocks up to 50 cm wide on its Portage property. Thirty-two diamonds
larger than 0.075 mm were recovered from a 138-kg sample collected
from the float material.
Nickel in the Far North
- Canadian Royalties continued exploration work at their Expo-Ungava
property, 15 km south of the Raglan mine, which has been in operation
since 1998. The company announced revised estimates of indicated
resources at its Mesamax deposit (1.84 million tonnes at 1.9%
nickel, 2.3% copper, 5.2 g/t platinum and palladium), and a preliminary
estimate for inferred resources at its Mequillon deposit (1.4
million tonnes at 0.7% nickel, 0.9% copper, 2.7 g/t platinum and
palladium). In addition, Canadian Royalties discovered another
high grade surface showing near Mesamax that grades 2.25% nickel,
5.70% copper, and 10.01 g/t platinum and palladium over 56.6 m.
- Goldbrook Ventures also reported the discovery of high grade
Ni-Cu-Pt-Pd showings on its Bélanger property in the western
part of the Cape Smith Belt. A drill hole returned average grades
of 1.35% nickel, 0.61% copper and 2.88 g/t platinum and palladium
over an interval of 49.35 metres. Further west, Knight Resources
and Anglo American Exploration (Canada) announced several interesting
intersections, including 24.5 metres at 1.71% nickel, 0.8% copper
and 1.33 g/t platinum and palladium.
- Further south and between the 55th and 56th parallels, Virginia
Gold Mines and BHP-Billiton completed a drilling program of almost
1 million dollars at the Gayot project.
- The 2004 year also witnessed renewed interest for exploration
in other regions or for new substances, including:
- uranium, notably in the Caniapiscau reservoir region;
- copper and nickel in the Grenville Province, on the Côte-Nord
(North Shore) and in Lac-Saint-Jean;
- titanium dioxide in the Grenville Province north of Forestville
on the Côte-Nord (North Shore);
- copper associated with iron oxide-copper-gold mineralizations
in the Gaspé region.
Stone and industrial minerals
- NAMCA successfully continued their development work at two architectural
stone deposits. Located at Maria and Saint-Armand, the deposits
consist of rosy violet limestone breccia and whitish grey calcilutite
- Junex began drilling two new brine wells at Bécancour.
Once in production, these wells will allow the company to increase
its daily production capacity of natural brine.
- Finally, exploration for graphite continues in some areas of
the Côte-Nord region, and limestone that may be of interest
for cement manufacturing has been identified in the Percé
area of the Gaspé region.