Mining Boom in Quebec: Alain-Jean Beauregard
Source: Brian Sylvester of The Gold Report (12/23/11)
While many jurisdictions are working hard to prevent mining or
mineral exploration, the province of Quebec is encouraging it. In
this exclusive interview with The Gold Report, Alain-Jean
Beauregard, founder of Geologica Inc., a geological consulting firm
based in Val-d'Or, talks about the shining future of gold mining in
Companies Mentioned: Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. - Alexandria Minerals
Corp. - Alexis Minerals - Aurizon Mines Ltd. - Canada Lithium Corp.
- Eloro Resources Ltd. - Golden Valley Mines Ltd. - Integra Gold
Corp. - Kinross Gold Corp. - Lithium One Inc. - Malaga Inc. -
Matamec Explorations Inc. - Nemaska Exploration Inc. - Osisko
Mining Corp. - Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. - Royal Nickel Corp. -
Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd. - White Tiger Gold Ltd.
The Gold Report: The province of Quebec where Geologica is based
offers some of the best infrastructure and mineral exploration
incentives of any state or province in North America. Why has
Quebec embraced mining when so many other jurisdictions are working
hard to prevent mining or mineral exploration at all?
Alain-Jean Beauregard: Like forestry, mining has traditionally been
a region developer in the province of Quebec. Native land issues
have already been settled for large parts of the province. Mining
is an important job creator—one of the most important in the
province. It's good income for the province because of revenues
from taxes. Quebec is happy to have mining companies in the
province. The highest salaries are now in mining. Mining regions
have the lowest unemployment in the province and a lot of young
graduates are back from the larger cities to their families, to the
great satisfaction of their parents. Also, a large world-class,
web-accessible Quebec Ministry of Natural Resources geoscientific
database, SIGEOM, has been in place for several years.
TGR: There are a couple specific incentives Quebec offers that
other provinces don't. You can get up to 50% of the money back that
you spend on exploration from mineral deposits. You also have
government-sponsored investment funds and, perhaps most notably, a
large web-accessible database. Tell us a little bit about those
A-JB: The stimulations ultimately encourage companies to reinvest
in more exploration, which will bring about more discoveries, more
jobs and more wealth to the province. Companies can have a tax
credit varying between 30% and 50%, depending on the remoteness of
The database that the province has put together is an important
one. All companies are obliged to file their statutory work reports
and make that information available for the other players in the
province so that they can benefit from strategic acquisitions and
understand the geology better. Moreover, they don't have to repeat
the same exploration surveys or drill the same targets because the
information is available. It increases the efficiency of the
exploration companies quite significantly. In Quebec, flow-through
funds for surface exploration work after tax cost less than 50% of
the original investments. This type of financing is the most
generous for investors in all of Canada. Several discoveries were
stimulated by these programs in the past 30 years.
TGR: Have you ever used that geoscientific database?
A-JB: We constantly use SIGEOM when reviewing statutory work
reports to complete our compilations. Also, when relogging and
resampling old core, it is always enlightening to help recognize
typical rock alterations and associated typical mineralizations.
The geologists then understand and look for the right metallogenic
environments favorable for future potential discoveries.
TGR: That database helped Osisko Mining Corp. (OSK:TSX), which at
the time was Osisko Exploration, find the Canadian Malartic
A-JB: When relogging the available in situ core, low gold values
were found disseminated all over the porphyritic host rock. The
potential for a large-volume, low-grade deposit then became
obvious. After seeing how well Kinross Gold Corp. (K:TSX; KGC:NYSE)
was doing from its Fort Knox deposit in Alaska, which is a
low-grade deposit in northern climatic conditions, people here were
inspired, particularly Bob Wares and his Osisko team. The more
persevering and persistent they were, the more the price of gold
was going up, making their dream possible.
TGR: Quebec has a government-funded mining company called SOQUEM
Inc. Have you ever worked with SOQUEM on any projects?
A-JB: Yes. SOQUEM's mission is to help the provincial mining
exploration industry particularly during low periods and bad
cycles, as well as to keep opening up potential areas to stimulate
mining and joint venture partnerships with their geoscientific
research and compilations. It was good to have SOQUEM around and
several of their joint venture partners feel very fortunate to have
TGR: With gold around $1,600/ounce (oz), what is business like for
Geologica these days?
A-JB: The price of gold permits us to collaborate on projects we
really like. Gold is our main field of activity. However, rare
earth minerals, lithium and other industrial minerals, as well as
base metals projects, are challenging mandates for us as well. We
have been around for 30 years and we are well advised and prepared
to serve our clients in Quebec and on at least three
TGR: Val-d'Or and the Cadillac Break have produced about 45 million
ounces (Moz) gold over the previous 80 years. Many people thought
the camp was finished, but with gold around $1,600/oz and new
technology being developed, there is something of a renaissance
happening in Val-d'Or. Can you tell our readers about some of the
recent success stories?
A-JB: Besides Osisko and Agnico-Eagle Mines Ltd. (AEM:TSX;
AEM:NYSE), companies like Alexandria Minerals Corp. (AZX:TSX.V),
Aurizon Mines Ltd. (ARZ:TSX; AZK:NYSE.A), Integra Gold Corp.
(ICG:TSX.V), White Tiger Gold Ltd. (WTG:TSX.V), Wesdome Gold Mines
Ltd. (WDO:TSX), Alexis Minerals Corp. (AMC:TSX; AXSMF
TCQX), Eloro Resources Ltd. (ELO:TSX.V) and Golden Valley
Mines Ltd. (GZZ:TSX.V) all have very interesting gold properties
and mines near Val-d'Or.
White Tiger Gold (previously Century Mining) was able to gather
some 2 Moz gold at the old Sigma-Lamaque mine. It's another example
of a project that can do well with good prices of gold.
There are also Wesdome Gold Mines' Kiena and Wesdome mines, which
have approximately 300 thousand ounces (Koz). It is underground
mining, which is a bit more difficult, but it has developed the
expertise and holds a large property sitting on important favorable
metallotects of the Val-d'Or camp. Moreover, Wesdome has recently
made a new gold discovery on its property, which will certainly
ensure mill feed for the next few years at its Kiena mine.
Agnico-Eagle, with its Goldex mine, also has had good success
mining its large-volume, lower-grade deposit underground using a
shaft and its approximately 10,000-tons-per-day mining
TGR: But it has shut down that operation recently because of
underground instability and some water-related issues.
A-JB: That is right. Goldex did have some problems with rock
stability and water infiltrations. Agnico-Eagle is presently
reviewing all of this with several engineering firms. I'm sure the
solution will soon be found and the mine should resume this coming
year. It's a project near the Cadillac Break, where rock mechanics
change when moving outside the competent host mineralized rock,
such as massive granitic and dioritic intrusions. The mine is also
in close proximity with sheared volcanic rock. Studies are being
done now to find solutions that will lead to start the mine next
Since 2003, about 25 Moz gold was discovered in the Val-d'Or and
Malartic gold camps. There is still a lot of potential. The
Val-d'Or, Malartic and Cadillac camps have been at work for the
past 80 years, and I think they will be successful for another 80
years if the price of gold keeps up.
TGR: Earlier this year, you prepared an NI 43-101 technical report
for Integra Gold Corp.'s Lamaque property, which is near the
past-producing Lamaque mine. That mine produced more than 4.75 Moz,
but it hasn't been in production since the 1980s. The Sigma gold
mine is northeast of Integra's Lamaque property. It remains in
production and has around, I believe, 5 Moz in resources and
A-JB: Concerning the old Lamaque property, that was operated by
Teck Hughes Gold Mines Ltd. at the time. Teck Hughes closed that
operation in the 1980s. It had been at work since 1927. It produced
close to 5 Moz.
Together, Sigma and Lamaque produced 9–10 Moz in a period of about
60 years. Integra Gold's Lamaque property is very well located in
respect to the old Lamaque mine. When we took that project about
two and a half years ago, we had about 400 Koz of gold. With about
two and a half years of drilling with one drill, sometimes two
drills, and about 35,000–40,000 meters, we were able to bring that
resource up close to 700 Koz of gold. We're pretty proud of having
had the honor to work on that project for which we have a very
special interest since I was mine geologist at the nearby Sigma
mine between 1981 and 1985 for Placer Dome.
TGR: You probably need to triple that resource to get a mine into
production. Do you think there's that much gold there?
A-JB: If we keep on working the lateral and depth extensions of the
already known mineralized zones, we should be able to improve the
resources to the 1 Moz level. The strategy is to find altered
fractured intrusions, just like in all the zones that brought the
mineralization up to date. The Forestel zone, the Parallel zone,
the Triangle zone, the Sixteen zone all have similar patterns of
mineralization, typical of mesothermal vein-type deposits. Some
make sizeable ellipsoidal vein clusters, and we'll be able to bulk
mine some of them. We could perhaps start an operation even before
we reach the 1.5 Moz number that you were talking about because we
have high-grade zones such as at the Triangle zone and the No. 4
Plug as well. Several unexplored targets remain to be tested
TGR: What are you looking at in terms of head grade? What's the
average head grade?
A-JB: It varies. We have zones with an average of 18 grams (g). We
have others that make 4–5 g. No two zones are the same, and some
are obviously richer than others. We'll have to take into account
all these variations and see how the mining of these zones
independently or together will be done. Will the ore be blended or
will the deposits be mined individually? This is all part of our
TGR: Is it more likely to follow the model of a Goldex and an
underground bulk-tonnage operation, or is it more likely to be a
A-JB: Some zones will be open-pittable because they're close to
surface and the overburden is not thick. Other zones will need to
be mined by underground bulk tonnage methods, preferably ramps,
which are cheaper than shafts. We already have some infrastructure
on the property. There are four or five old shafts, which could
permit access to deeply located zones such as the No. 4 plug, for
example, which is of higher grade. All options have to be
TGR: Last question on Integra. In terms of gold recovery, have
tests been done to date on recovering the gold? Is it easy to
A-JB: The past historical mining by Teck and Placer Dome has proven
to give good recovery. When the Lamaque and Sigma mines operated,
they went well above 90% recovery by using simple, conventional
gravimetric and cyanidation methods. Recovery is not a problem here
because we're dealing with quartz-tourmaline veins with low pyrite
(1—2%) content or any other types of sulfides. There are very
little sulfides associated with the veins.
It's very simple at Lamaque. The history speaks for itself. Both
Sigma and Lamaque have operated for 60 years with very nice gold
recovery (94%) success with substantial economic benefits. I'm not
worried at all for Integra thanks to Integra's management team,
shareholders' continuous support, perseverance and successful
TGR: Geologica has done some work on a rare earth elements (REE)
project in the area. What do you know about Matamec Explorations
Inc.'s (MAT:TSX.V; MRHEF
TCQX) Kipawa REE project?
A-JB: We haven't worked on that project. With a solid partner such
as Toyota, Matamec should be promised a successful future. Our
involvement with rare earth minerals was and is with Quest Rare
Minerals Ltd. (QRM:TSX.V; QRM:NYSE.A) on the Strange Lake
TGR: Where is this?
A-JB: The project is located at the Labrador border between
Newfoundland and Quebec, approximately 150 km NNW of the town of
Schefferville. It was discovered by Iron Ore Company of Canada in
the 1970s. Quest Rare Minerals was able to drill anomalous till and
soil geochemistry anomalies, which correspond with TREO-rich
TGR: Are people talking about REEs in the camp now that Matamec has
a REE deposit and a solid partner in Toyota? Aurizon Mines has a
property that's contiguous to Matamec's Kipawa deposit; are people
talking about that?
A-JB: Matamec, although in Quebec, is in the Témiscamingue area.
It's closer to the Ontario border, and the geology there is
favorable for rare earth minerals discoveries. There is a big
interest and a lot of activity around rare earth and lithium. The
Quebec Lithium deposit of Canada Lithium Corp. (CLQ:TSX;
TCQX), located near Val-d'Or (approx. 35km), will be into
production next year. In the James Bay area, Lithium One Inc.
(LI:TSX.V) and Nemaska Exploration Inc. (NMX:TSX.V; NMKEF
TCQX) are also advancing their projects at a fast pace toward
TGR: Do you believe there will be more of these kinds of deposits
discovered in western Quebec?
A-JB: I think so. It's just a matter of being able to constantly
fund the research and exploration programs. The province of Quebec
is huge. It's five times the size of France, and there are still a
lot of places to explore. Iron ore is attracting large companies as
well on the Labrador Trough. As for base metals, Royal Nickel Corp.
(RNX:TSX), in the Amos area, is planning to open up a huge nickel
open-pit deposit. Royal Nickel is talking about 80–100 thousand
tons of ore extraction per day, which is twice what is being mined
presently at Osisko. There is a lot of action in mining. We don't
have much time to take a break but we like it better that way.
TGR: I guess that's good.
A-JB: If you have the passion for what you do, you will have fun
doing it. We don't see a significant slowdown in the short- to
TGR: You did some technical work for a Montreal-based company
called Malaga Inc. (MLG:TSX). What did that involve?
A-JB: Malaga has the unique Pasto Bueno tungsten deposit in Peru,
which is the only one in South America. We had the pleasure to work
on this epithermal vein type deposit. The Pasto Bueno deposit is
busy with 350 employees. We prepared an evaluation report and gave
some advice on the exploration approach to bring a better
understanding of the veins and help find more mineralization. It is
a very interesting deposit, which is associated or hosted within a
"greisen," a type of mineralization associated with altered
fractured quartz monzonite stock intrusions, a bit like the tin
occurrences in Bolivia. The mineralization consists of quartz veins
with scheelite, hubnerite and ferberite minerals. There are several
minerals and crystals that contain tungsten, but in the case of
Pasto Bueno, it's mainly hubnerite, ferberite, some scheelite and
wolframite. More than 75 epithermal veins were found at surface and
the mine is presently developing and mining a dozen veins using
only adits and underground mining methods such as cut and fill and
TGR: The management of Malaga is on record as saying it would like
another tungsten mine in addition to Pasto Bueno. Do you think
there is sufficient tungsten in the area to support a second
A-JB: Definitely. What the management is talking about is on the
same property but across the valley. That tungsten-rich zone such
as the Consuzo Manto in the southern part of the Pasto Bueno
property was found at the contact between the sedimentary rocks and
the intrusion. The zones are very wide and rich, but haven't been
fully evaluated. Malaga has to do some diamond drilling and more
exploration, but the resource potential growth is significant for
the future of the company.
TGR: Do you expect this run that started 9–10 years ago to continue
for a while?
A-JB: As long as the world markets' metal demand is there, as long
as China has internal demand and emerging countries such as Brazil,
India and Russia need metals.
TGR: How would you sum up the Val-d'Or camp?
A-JB: The whole Cadillac Break between Val-d'Or and Timmins at one
time was the second or third largest producer of gold after South
Africa. There are still lots of discoveries to be made. At present
prices of gold, there are a lot of interesting, favorable host
structures with projects that are going to be revived again. I'm
confident of that. Some say the best place to look for a mine is
near another mine.
TGR: Thanks for your insights.
Alain-Jean Beauregard is founder, shareholder, director and
administrator of Geologica Groupe-Conseil Inc., Val d'Or, Quebec, a
geological consulting firm that includes management, project
supervision, property evaluations and geoscientific compilations at
the national and international levels. He holds a Bachelor of
Science in geological and mining sciences from Concordia University
and a Certificate in Business Administration from Université du
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1) Brian Sylvester of The Gold Report conducted this interview. He
personally and/or his family own shares of the following companies
mentioned in this interview: None.
2) The following companies mentioned in the interview are sponsors
of The Gold Report: Aurizon Mines Ltd., Integra Gold Corp., Matamec
Explorations Inc., Quest Rare Minerals Ltd. The Energy Report
sponsors: Nemaska Exploration Inc., Lithium One Inc. Streetwise
Reports does not accept stock in exchange for services.
3) Alain-Jean Beauregard: I personally and/or my family own shares
of the following companies mentioned in this interview: None. I
personally and/or my family am paid by the following companies
mentioned in this interview: None. I was not paid by Streetwise for
participating in this story.