By Ellsworth Dickson
The Province of Quebec produces about 33% of Canada’s gold production with much of it mined along the Abitibi Gold Belt. The belt is a massive geological structure that stretches from east of the gold-rich town of Val d’Or, Quebec (literally ‘Valley of Gold’) west across the Ontario border to Timmins and Kirkland Lake, Ontario and beyond. The first gold mines in the belt opened in the early 1900s and, to date, have produced over 190 million ounces of the yellow metal.
Despite over a century of intense mining, the Abitibi Gold Belt is still home to dozens of gold exploration and development projects. Geologists estimate that the belt hosts over 300 million ounces of gold – and that’s just known production, reserves and resources. There is certainly much more as demonstrated by recent exploration results from the numerous exploration programs now underway.
The Abitibi Gold Belt, which is about 500 km east-west and over 300 km north-south, comprises sedimentary, volcanic and intrusive rocks emplaced over some 140 million years between 2.79 and 2.64 billion years ago. The belt features two lineaments on both sides of the Quebec-Ontario border known as the Larder Lake-Cadillac and the Destor-Porcupine fault zones; also known as “breaks”.
There are four main types of gold mineralization along the belt: quartz-carbonate veins; disseminated stockworks, vein and replacement zones; synvolcanic gold sulphides; and suphide-rich copper-gold-silver veins.
Today, there are close to a dozen producing gold mines along the belt – some of them differing from the older mines in that they are large, lower-grade, open pit mines such as Eldorado Gold’s Lamaque Mine and the Yamana Gold/Agnico Eagle Canadian Malartic Mine, the largest open pit gold mine in Canada.
However, underground mining remains important, including Newmont’s Éléonore Mine and Agnico Eagle’s LaRonde Mine at over 3,000 metres deep, making it the deepest mine in the Americas.
As noted above, the Abitibi Gold Belt has played a major role in developing Quebec’s gold mining sector. Quebec explorers have different ideas to find more gold. Some are going deeper. Doug Andrews, geologist, said that “as we go deeper in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt, the gold grades get higher as we get closer to the igneous intrusion and the favourable fault structures. This can be seen at the Amex Exploration’s Perron deposit.”
Andrews added that “there are also opportunities for developing low-grade disseminated, open pit gold mines such as the Canadian Malartic mine.”
He noted that there are several gold belts that are particularly prospective within the Abitibi Greenstone Belt such as the Kirkland Lake to Val d’Or Cadillac Break, the Casa Berardi Greenstone Belt, as well as what he calls the Nelligan Deformation Corridor where the IAMGOLD/Vanstar Resources Nelligan deposit is located 280 km northeast of Val d’Or and the 100-km Normetal Deformation Corridor where Amex Exploration is drilling the Perron deposit 110 km north of Rouyn Noranda. Adjacent to the Nelligan deposit is Northern Superior Resources which is exploring its Lac Surprise gold project.
“Another area in Quebec that is getting a lot of activity is the James Bay region which is not in the Abitibi Greenstone Belt but in another greenstone belt further north where Newmont’s big Éléonore Gold Mine is in production,” said Andrews. “The hydroelectric projects are opening up the region.”
Midland Exploration is exploring its Mythril and Mythril regional projects in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region of northern Quebec.
Explorers favour Quebec for several reasons: a very pro-mining government, the government’s Plan Nord to develop the north, great prospectivity, and rebates on exploration expenses.
While Quebec mines at least 15 different mineral commodities, gold is the star of the show and based on the ongoing exploration results of numerous explorers, will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.
Midland Exploration Inc. [MD-TSXV], a prospect generator style of exploration company that has several gold prospects along the major gold-bearing faults of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt in Quebec, including the Larder Lake Cadillac and the Porcupine Destor Faults to the south and the Casa-Berardi and the Detour Trend further north.
All of Midland’s projects are in Quebec and over a dozen are north of the belt in a region noted for many significant gold deposits. The company’s other projects are located in the James Bay region of far northern Quebec and the Labrador Trough (Nunavik) which are mainly gold and base metal projects.
In addition to its 100%-owned properties, Midland favours the joint venture model to advance mineral prospects and has agreements with BHP Canada, Agnico Eagle Mines, Wallbridge Mining Company, Probe Metals, Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd., Abcourt Mines, SOQUEM and NMEF (Nunavik Mineral Exploration Fund). Midland is also one of the biggest claims holders in the Detour Trend near the Wallbridge-Balmoral discovery.
Midland has a strategic alliance with BHP Canada for funding nickel exploration up to $4.2 M over two years in Nunavik, Québec. The objective of the alliance is to identify, test and develop high-quality exploration target towards the discovery of new significant nickel deposits. Exploration has resumed on Midland’s 100%-owned Mythril and Mythril regional projects in the Eeyou Istchee James Bay region of northern Quebec. The summer program includes a lake sediment survey, prospecting and reconnaissance campaign. Prospecting is targeting newly defined lake sediment anomalies as well as copper-gold-molybdenum and gold occurrences and boulder fields discovered in 2019.Midland has a joint venture agreement with Probe Metals encompassing 125 km2 that includes Midland’s Gaudet and Samson NW properties and Probe’s Fenelon-Nantel property. The 50:50 Joint Venture Gaudet-Fenelon property encompasses 125 km2 covering 35 km of the Lower Detour Gold Trend (LDGT) and is adjacent to Walbridge Mining’s property hosting the Fenelon, Tabasco and Reaper gold zones. Exploration this past summer comprised a new 42.5-km IP survey covering a structural domain similar to the Fenelon Gold Zone. Results from the recently completed IP survey identified three high-priority areas less than four km south of the Fenelon deposit and the Tabasco, Area 51 and Reaper zones held by Wallbridge Mining. A property-wide geochemical sampling program is underway that is designed to prioritize IP anomalies and targets for drill program planned for the winter of 2021.
Midland is drilling its 100%-owned Samson gold project 15 km southeast of the Fenelon and Tabasco deposits held by Wallbridge. On Samson, drilling had returned a high-grade gold intersection of 99.1 g/t Au and 71.3 g/t Ag over 0.4 metres on the new Golden Delilah discovery.
In mid-October Midland discovered new gold showings on surface on its 100%-owned Lewis Project, located approximately 60 km southwest of Chapais in Abitibi, Quebec, that returned several anomalous gold values in grab samples with grades ranging from 0.2 g/t to 2.1 g/t gold. Follow-up work, including mechanical stripping, channel sampling, prospecting and soil sampling are underway in an effort to assess the extent of these new mineralized zones.
Midland recently staked 80 new claims adjacent to the east of its 100%-owned Jouvex gold property, 10 km northwest of the Douay deposit held by Maple Gold Mines, bringing the total to 345 claims covering 193 km2. Two main areas are now targeted for upcoming exploration campaigns. The first target area consists of a NW-SE-trending structure called the Casa Berardi North Fault, which can be traced over more than 10 km on Jouvex and the second target area corresponds to a regional structural lineament trending E-W, extending from the Casa Berardi mine over a distance of more than 65 km.
Midland Exploration has no debt and is well funded with $13.5 million cash. A large part of exploration costs are being paid by joint venture partners. The company is planning to drill 15,000 metres this year with a 2020 budget of $6 million.
By favouring a joint venture prospect generator style of business strategy, Midland has significantly de-risked several of its exploration prospects and is providing investors with a number of opportunities for discoveries.
The company has 72.3 million shares outstanding with institutions holding 60%.
Amex Exploration Inc. [TSXV-AMX; OTCQX-AMXEF; FRA-MX0] is concentrating its efforts on the 100%-owned Perron gold project located 110 kilometres north of Rouyn Noranda, Quebec. Several high-grade gold discoveries have been made on the 4,518-hectare Perron property, including the Eastern Gold Zone, the Gratien Gold Zone, the Grey Cat Zone, and the Central Polymetallic Zone. The Perron Project has become the bright star of the Chicobi Deformation Zone which until Amex got involved was thought to be a base metals belt. Perron has proven the belt has the potential to host very high grade gold typically seen elsewhere in the Abitibi.
These discreet gold deposits open up the potential for the Perron property to host several gold mines or drilling may prove that some of the gold zones actually link up to form larger gold deposits.
Following an $11.7 million financing in September, Amex is increasing its fully-funded drill program from 200,000 metres to 300,000 metres. The objective of exploration along strike of the 3+ km Perron Gold Corridor is to possibly link up the gold zones and generate a bulk tonnage target as well as high-grade underground targets such as the Eastern Gold Zone and the Grey Cat Zone.
The Eastern Gold Zone has several parallel mineralized zones, including the Denise Zone and the High Grade Zone which are open along strike and to depth. Drilling at the High Grade Zone has intersected more than 1.1 kilometres of high-grade gold mineralization starting from surface. Over 60 drill holes have intersected gold mineralization grading over 10 g/t gold over variable widths. Infill as well as step-out drilling is underway.
At the Denise Zone, which is a broad gold-bearing system approximately 50 to 100 metres south of the High Grade Zone, drill hole PE-20-192 intersected 39.55 metres of 9.36 g/t gold, including 21.90 metres of 16.55 g/t gold which includes 0.50 metres of 428.42 g/t gold, 0.50 metres of 135.87 g/t gold, and 0.50 metres of 131.85 g/t gold at a vertical depth of approximately 225 metres.
There are too many high-grade gold intersections to list; however, for example, drilling in the Eastern Gold Zone returned 56.75 g/t gold over 8.50 metres with higher grade sections. Gratien Gold Zone highlights include 16.48 g/t gold over 14.60 metres with higher grade sections. Grey Cat drilling returned 23.95 g/t gold over 2.70 metres. Near-surface mineralization at Grey Cat of over a 20-metre width has the potential for open pitting. Trenching, mapping and sampling is ongoing.
The objective of the current drilling program is to provide a basis for preparing a maiden NI 43-101 compliant mineral resource estimate. A significant portion of the property remains underexplored.
In addition to the extensive drilling program, Amex has also conducted metallurgical studies at the High Grade Zone. The Phase 2 metallurgy program determined that very high gold and silver recoveries are attainable using a simplified two-stage process that eliminates flotation, thereby lowering projected processing costs as well as capital costs.
Amex also holds a portfolio of two other properties focused on gold and base metals in the Abitibi region elsewhere in Quebec.
Amex Exploration is headed by Victor Cantore, President and CEO. His management team has extensive experience in exploration and capital markets. The company has 82,890,514 shares outstanding and approximately $39 million in cash. Amex has a number of major shareholders including mining financier Eric Sprott and various Quebec, European, Canadian and US institutions.
The Perron Gold Project has already proven that it represents an outstanding exploration opportunity in one of the world’s most prospective and mining-friendly regions.
Northern Superior Resources Inc. [SUP-TSXV] is a junior explorer chasing district-scale opportunities with one project in Ontario –TPK – and two in Québec – Lac Surprise and Croteau Est.
Recent drilling on the 100%-owned, year-round accessible, 20 km x 20 km Lac Surprise gold project, located within the Chapais-Chibougamau gold-copper mining camp, was designed to test for the extension of mineralization from the adjoining IAMGOLD/Vanstar Nelligan deposit (3.2 million inferred ounces of gold grading 1.02 g/t gold) onto the Northern Superior ground.
In its first hole, the drilling intersected a new gold discovery that returned 1.07 g/t gold equivalent (AuEq) over 35.5 metres, including a high-grade interval of 8.22 g/t AuEq over 2.6 metres on strike and only 1.4 km from the westernmost step-out drill hole at Nelligan. The company is awaiting assay results from an additional 11 holes.
Northern Superior’s 100%-owned, 30 km x 15 km, Croteau Est gold project in the same camp has a NI 43-101 compliant inferred gold resource of 11.6 million tonnes, grading 1.7 g/t gold, for 640,000 ounces of gold. Intersections associated with this deposit include 11.06 g/t gold over 9.10 metres, including 43.75 g/t gold over 2.00 metres as well as 61.24 g/t gold over 5.95 metres, including 705 g/t gold over 0.5 metres. The system is open along strike in both directions and at depth. Several additional gold showings occur on the property.
Northern Superior’s 100%-owned TPK property in Ontario hosts two district-scale mineral systems. The prospectivity of these systems are highlighted by their size (35km and 3.5km wide, respectively), the presence of highly anomalous (up to 1,260 gold grains per 10kg till sample) gold grain-in-till dispersal aprons (6kms wide) and trains (3.5kms) respectively, discovery holes (such as TPK-10-004: 25.87g/t Au over 13.45m) and discovery of many high-grade gold-bearing boulders assaying up to 727 g/t Au, 111g/t Ag and 4.05% Cu.
A $4.25 million private placement funding is nearing completion. When completed, the company will have a cash position of approximately $10 million. There are 58,412,042 shares outstanding with New Gold Inc. carrying a 9.99% interest. Insiders own 21%.
Vanstar Mining Resources Inc. [VSR-TSXV] is totally focused on mineral-rich Quebec with five gold projects in La Belle Province: Nelligan, Felix, Amanda, Frida and Eva.
The Nelligan Gold Project, located 45 km south of Chapais and 280 km northeast of Val d’Or, is held under an earn-in option/joint venture agreement as to Vanstar 25% and IAMGOLD 75%. IAMGOLD can acquire an additional 5% interest by completing and delivering a Feasibility Study. Vanstar would then retain a 20% undivided non-contributory carried interest until start of commercial production, after which time the 20% undivided interest becomes participating; and Vanstar will pay its attributable portion of the total development and construction costs to the commencement of commercial production. Vanstar will also retain a 1% NSR royalty on selected claims of the project.
This past summer, almost 2,600 metres of drilling were completed at Nelligan to test the Renard and Renard Ouest zones as well as infill drilling to improve resource classification. Exploration drilling also tested potential extensions at depth and along strike of the deposit.
The 5,806.6-hectare Nelligan property hosts four major gold zones: the Renard, Liam, Dan and 36. Initial Inferred Resources stand at 3.2 million ounces, 96.9 million tonnes grading 1.02 g/t gold with the deposit still open for expansion. Visible gold is evident in the Renard Zone where drilling has returned 5.04 g/t gold over 12.12 metres.
The latest drill results from the Renard Zone at Nelligan include Hole NE-20-159 that returned 33.0 metres grading 0.99 g/t gold and 18.0 metres grading 1.55 g/t gold. Drill hole NE-20-162 returned 17.3 metres grading 7.62 g/t gold (4.49 g/t when capped at 30 g/t) including 1.5 metres grading 66.1 g/t gold and 42.0 metres grading 1.15 g/t gold and 15.6 metres grading 1.39 g/t gold. At the Liam Zone, drill hole NE-20-160 returned 8.5 metres grading 4.16 g/t gold, including 1.3 metres grading 19.8 g/t gold. At the Renard West Zone, hole NE-20-161 returned 27.0 metres grading 1.11 g/t gold and 36.1 metres grading 1.13 g/t gold and 22.1 metres grading 1.07 g/t gold.
For Q1 2021, a winter drill program is planned as well as geochemical and geological surveys and metallurgical studies. Over $15 million has been spent at Nelligan since 2013.
Vanstar’s 100%-owned Felix Project, located 86 km northeast of Rouyn-Noranda, has been explored intermittently since the 1940s. Past exploration included a gold discovery by Amax in the 1980s. Various geophysical surveys were also completed.
Current work includes a high-resolution Mag survey and compilation of previous exploration results. For winter 20201, a 2,500-metre drill program is planned. Vanstar recently acquired 31 mining claims from Osisko Metals to expand the Felix property by more than 99%. The claims cover the Chicobi Group formation along the Abitibi Gold Belt.
At the 100%-owned Amanda Project, located 275 km northeast of Chibougamau, this past summer’s sampling program has discovered a number of gold showings. A total of 576 samples were taken from the 7,677-hectare property. Four new showings with sample assays up to 1.8 g/t gold were discovered in mineralized sediments during this first-pass geological survey.
Vanstar plans to conduct a high-resolution aerial Mag survey in the near future to map the property and uncover structural discontinuities in iron formations that may prove to be the site of gold deposits. The company also plans to carry out stripping and sampling work next summer followed by a drill program in fall 2021.
At the 100%-owned Frida and Eva properties in the James Bay area of Northern Quebec, the company is planning exploration to follow up on earlier encouraging gold values.
Vanstar Mining Resources is headed by Jonathan Hamel, Interim President and CEO. Most of the management team has decades of exploration and development experience. The company has 55,416,318 shares outstanding and approximately $3,608,000 in the treasury.
Vanstar`s projects are located in one of the world`s most prospective and pro-mining jurisdictions and the company is well on its way to grow existing gold resources and expand its discoveries.