Midland Exploration’s Wilbob gold project in the Labrador Trough, in northern Quebec. CREDIT: MIDLAND EXPLORATION
With its prolific gold mining history and mining-friendly policies, Quebec has earned its reputation as a great place to find gold.
The province has seen exploration spending climb from $2.6 billion in 2016 to $3.6 billion in 2018. While the numbers for 2019 are expected to fall slightly, with the price of gold on the rise, the province could be in for another uptick in 2020. Much of the exploration work is taking place in the famous gold camps of the Abitibi, but the James Bay region of Quebec, where Newmont Goldcorp’s Éléonore mine, Nemaska Lithium’s Whabouchi mine and Stornoway Diamond’s Renard mine are located, is also seeing a flurry of activity.
Here’s a look at some of the juniors that are working to find the province’s next mines.
ABITIBI GOLD BELT
+ Bonterra Resources
Bonterra Resources is advancing three high-grade gold projects 200 km northeast of Val d’Or, in the Abitibi greenstone belt: Gladiator, Barry and Maroy.
In May, the company released an updated resource for the three deposits in the Urban Barry camp. Together, the deposits host 3.2 million indicated tonnes averaging 6.33 g/t gold for 643,000 oz. of gold and 6.2 million inferred tonnes averaging 7.04 g/t gold for 1.4 million oz.
Gladiator, the biggest of the three deposits, hosts 743,000 indicated tonnes at 8.46 g/t gold for 202,000 contained oz. gold and 2.7 million inferred tonnes at 9.1 g/t gold for 897,000 oz. Drilling at Gladiator has outlined the deposit along 1,600 metres of strike length, and to a depth of 1,100 metres.
The Barry deposit, which was mined as an open pit between 2008 and 2010, hosts 2.1 million tonnes grading 5.84 g/t gold for 385,000 indicated oz. and 2.7 million tonnes grading 5.14 g/t gold for 453,000 inferred oz.
The smaller Moroy deposit is located on the property of the former Bachelor gold mine, where the Urban-Barry mill also sits. The mill is the only permitted gold processing plant in the region. Bonterra is in the process of expanding its capacity to 2,400 t/d from 800 t/d.
Bonterra raised $32 million in a private placement in August.
+ Monarch Gold
Monarch Gold has several projects in the Abitibi camp, as well as the fully permitted Camflo and Beacon mills.
Its six advanced projects, including its flagship Wasamac project, hold a combined measured and indicated resource of 3.3 million oz. gold and an inferred resource totalling 1.1 million oz. Monarch’s other projects include the Beaufor mine, which was placed on care and maintenance in June, Croinor, Fayolle, McKenzie Break and Swanson. Monarch is planning a drill program at Beaufor to boost the mine’s high-grade resource.
In June, the company also acquired the Fayolle project from Hecla Mining and Typhoon Exploration. Recent drill results from a 586-metre exploration program at Fayolle include 4.9 metres of 40.5 g/t gold from 2.6 metres depth (including 1 metre of 132.01 g/t gold).
The company released a feasibility study on Wasamac in late 2018 that outlined an 11-year mine life and production of 142,000 oz. of gold per year. The projected capex is $464 million, and at US$1,300 per oz. gold, the project carries a post-tax internal rate of return of 18.5% and an NPV of $311.1 million.
+ Probe Metals
In early September, Probe Metals announced a doubling of resources at its Val-d’Or area projects.
Open pit resources in the measured and indicated category at Probe’s Vald’Or East property now total 13.5 million tonnes grading 1.69 g/t gold for 733,100 oz. gold. Underground measured and indicated resources add 1.1 million tonnes grading 3.91 g/t gold for 133,200 oz. Inferred open pit resources total 22.7 million tonnes grading 1.44 g/t gold for 1.1 million oz., while inferred underground resources come to 6.1 million tonnes grading 3.49 g/t gold for 679,600 oz. gold.
The resources are hosted in multiple deposits at Probe’s Val-d’Or East project.
Probe is examining different development option scenarios for Val-d’Or East, including developing the projects as satellite deposits feeding a central mill.
The company also has two projects in the area it is optioning from other companies: Monarch Gold’s Monique project and O3 Mining’s Cadillac Break East.
Probe recently updated the resource at Monique to 9.1 million inferred tonnes (open pit and underground) averaging 2.25 g/t gold for 661,400 oz.
+ Radisson Mining Resources
Drilling at Radisson Mining Resources’ past-producing O’Brien project. CREDIT: RADISSON MINING RESOURCES
In July, Radisson Mining Resources released a new resource estimate for its O’Brien gold project in the Bousquet- Cadillac mining camp between Rouyn- Noranda and Val-d’Or that boosted both its tonnage and grade.
Indicated resources at O’Brien now stand at 949,700 tonnes grading 9.48 g/t gold for 289,400 oz., while inferred resources stand at 617,400 tonnes grading 7.31 g/t gold for 145,000 oz.
As part of the resource update, a new structural model of O’Brien’s geology was completed based on historic and recent drill holes. The new model improves the company’s understanding of the project and has identified the main ore controlling structures.
Radisson is currently conducting a two-rig, 20,000-metre drill program at O’Brien and plans to begin underground exploration next year.
The past-producing O’Brien mine boasted a grade of 15.25 g/t gold during production from 1926 to 1957.
+ O3 Mining
Formed in August, through a transaction between Osisko Mining, Chantrell Ventures and Alexandria Minerals, O3 Mining is focused on exploration in established gold camps in Ontario and Quebec. The resulting company’s Quebec properties include Cadillac Break and Marban.
In September, the junior began a three-rig, 50,000-metre drill program on its Val-d’Or properties with the goal of confirming, upgrading and expanding existing resources in four properties across the Cadillac Break. Drilling started in the Bulldog zone, which returned 4.5 metres of 10.87 g/t gold (at 263 metres depth) in December 2018.
Existing resources at O3’s Val-d’Or projects total 2.1 million oz. gold in the measured and indicated category at 1.40 g/t gold and 1.1 million oz. gold in the inferred category at 2.95 g/t gold.
+ Amex Exploration
Amex Exploration has made several discoveries at its flagship Perron gold project, 110 km north of Rouyn-Noranda.
Perron has seen more than 27,000 metres of drilling this year, with another 15,000 planned before the year is through.
Amex has intersected gold in three different zones that stretch for 2.4 km of lateral strike along the Perron fault zone: the Eastern Gold Zone, the Gratien gold zone and Grey Cat zone.
Recent results from Grey Cat include 26.9 metres of 3.42 g/t gold from 243 metres depth (including 0.5 metre of 134.16 g/t gold) and 28 metres of 1.26 g/t gold from 20 metres depth (including 1.1 metres of 17.91 g/t gold).
From the Gratien zone, recent results include up to 14.6 metres of 16.48 g/t gold (including 5 metres of 47.69 g/t) from a depth of 145 metres.
This year’s drilling is focused on expanding known gold zones, stepout drilling from mineralized showings, and establishing a maiden resource for the EGZ, which was discovered in late 2017.
Amex also has several other gold projects in Quebec.
After a recent investment in Amex, Eric Sprott holds about 8.5% of the company’s shares.
+ Yorbeau Resources
Yorbeau Resources has several base metal projects with delineated resources across the Abitibi region, as well as the Rouyn gold deposit, which is under option to Iamgold.
Together, the Augmitto and Astoria deposits at Rouyn host 2.6 million tonnes grading 5.92 g/t gold for 497,820 oz. gold. The estimate was completed in 2011, but 24,000 metres of drilling completed in 2016-17 (by Kinross Gold) was never incorporated into the resource.
In January, Iamgold began a minimum 15,000-metre drill program at the Gamble zone and Astoria deposit. Recent results from the Gamble zone include 29.7 metres grading 9 g/t gold from 172.3 metres depth.
+ Troilus Gold
Northeast of Val-d’Or in the historic Chibougamau gold camp in the eastern end of the Abitibi gold belt, Troilus Gold is advancing its past-producing project of the same name.
The company is conducting a 40,000- metre drilling campaign this year to expand and upgrade resources at its Troilus gold project. A preliminary economic assessment will follow.
Last year, Troilus released a resource estimate that outlined indicated resources (open pit and underground) of 121.7 million tonnes grading 0.87 g/t gold and 0.086% copper for 3.4 million oz. gold and 231.8 million lb. of copper. Inferred resources add 36.1 million tonnes at 0.88 g/t gold and 0.083% copper for 1 million oz. gold and 66.2 million lb. of copper.
The former Troilus mine produced 2 million oz. gold and 70,000 tonnes of copper under Inmet Mining.
+ Northern Superior Resources
In September, Northern Superior Resources began a 10-hole 3,000-metre drill program on its Lac Surprise property, 65 km south of Chibougamau.
The project adjoins the Nelligan project, held by Iamgold and Vanstar Mining Resources, and the drill campaign aims to confirm the extension of the Renard gold deposit from Nelligan onto Lac Surprise.
Iamgold is aiming to put together an initial resource for Nelligan this year. The company has reported recent drill results including 11 metres of 2.56 g/t gold (from 78.4 metres) and 73 metres of 1.09 g/t gold (from 120.5 metres).
Northern Superior also holds the Croteau Est and Wapistan projects in Quebec.
Iamgold is also earning up to 75% of the Monster Lake project, 50 km southwest of Chibougamau, from TomaGold. Iamgold released an inferred resource for Monster Lake last March of 1.1 million tonnes grading 12.14 g/t gold for 433,300 oz. contained gold.
TomaGold, which also holds five other gold projects in Quebec, intends to spin out its Monster Lake interest into a new company.
JAMES BAY REGION
+ Eastmain Resources
Farther north in Quebec in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region, sits Eastmain Resources’ Clearwater property.
Clearwater hosts the high-grade Eau Claire gold project, for which the company released a preliminary economic assessment in May 2018. The study projected a preproduction capex of $175 million for an operation with a 12-year mine life and average annual production of 79,200 oz. gold. At US$1,250 per oz.
gold, the after-tax IRR was pegged at 27%, the NPV at $260 million and average AISC at $746 (US$574) per oz.
Combining both open pit and underground resources, Eau Claire hosts 4.3 million measured and indicated tonnes grading 6.18 g/t gold for 853,000 oz. Inferred resources add 2.4 million tonnes averaging 6.53 g/t gold for 500,000 oz.
As it advances Eau Claire, Eastmain is continuing exploration nearby. In September, a 20-hole, 4,000-metre drill program was in progress at Clearwater, following up on promising trenching and channel sampling results within 14 km of Eau Claire.
Eastmain also holds 36.7% of the Éléonore South joint venture with Newmont Goldcorp and Azimut Exploration.
+ Benz Mining
In August, Benz Mining optioned Eastmain Resources’ Eastmain gold project, in the James Bay region. Eastmain has indicated resources of 899,000 tonnes grading 8.19 g/t gold, 0.13% copper and 8 g/t silver for 236,000 contained oz. gold, 232,000 contained oz. silver and 2.6 million lb copper. Inferred resources add 579,000 tonnes grading 7.48 g/t gold, 0.16% copper and 8.2 g/t silver for 139,300 oz. gold, 152,000 oz. silver and 2 million lb. copper.
Benz plans to start exploration work, including drilling to update the resource and complete an economic assessment for the project, this fall.
The Eastmain project produced around 40,000 oz. gold at a grade of 10.58 g/t gold in the 1990s.
+ Sirios Resources
Sirios Resources is expecting a maiden resource estimate for its Cheechoo gold project, about 8 km south of the Éléonore gold mine, before the end of the year.
The high grade gold project has seen more than 62,000 metres of drilling.
Drilling earlier this year returned up to 6.8 metres of 25.5 g/t gold starting at 336 metres depth (including 0.8 metre of 187 g/t gold).
Initial metallurgical testing of Cheechoo ore has shown up to 97% gold recoveries through a combination of gravity and cyanidation.
Sirios also has several other precious metals projects, including three in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region: Amikap, Goldorak and Property 39.
+ Midland Exploration
Prospect generator Midland Exploration has a couple dozen gold and base metal projects throughout Quebec, including active joint ventures with SOQUEM, Agnico Eagle Mines and Osisko Mining.
In April, BHP Billiton invested $5.9 million for a 5% stake in the company. The proceeds were earmarked for copper exploration, including at Midland’s Mythril copper-gold-molybdenum-silver project in the James Bay region.
The project will see close to 10,000 metres of drilling this year. Drill highlights have included 9 metres of 1.34% copper, 0.69 g/t gold, 0.04% molybdenum and 9.54 g/t silver from 147 metres downhole, including a 3.7-metre interval of 3% copper, 1.59 g/t gold, 0.09% moly and 21.3 g/t silver.
In August, Midland began a 1,000- metre drilling program on its 100% owned Wilbob gold project, in the Labrador Trough, about 65 km west of Kuujjuaq, Que. Channel sampling at the Ants showing at Wilbob has returned up to 23.3 metres of 1.78 g/t gold and 10 metres of 3.19 g/t gold.
Midland is also advancing several projects in the Abitibi gold belt.
+ Azimut Exploration
Azimut Exploration has a strategic alliance with SOQUEM, a subsidiary of Ressources Québec, for exploration at six gold properties in the Eeeyou Istchee James Bay region and three copper-gold properties in the Nunavik region.
Azimut generates exploration targets based on the advanced processing of large geoscientific databases.
This summer Azimut and SOQUEM completed early stage exploration programs, including prospecting and sampling, at four gold projects under the alliance: Pikwa, Pontois, Galinée and Dalmas. Channel sampling at Patwon returned highlights of 7.1 metres of 9.52 g/t gold and 2 metres of 36.3 g/t gold.
The partners also conducted a $4-million exploration program on the copper- gold properties in Nunavik, with the objective of advancing the Rex-Duquet, Rex South and Nantais properties to the drilling stage.