Boasting a large, prospective territory and a deep mining culture, Quebec arguably has the most vibrant junior mining scene in Canada, with activity across the province in a multitude of commodities, from traditional gold and copper to more modern graphite and rare earth elements. The following is a sampling of eight juniors with ongoing programs.
Jean Lafleur-led Aurvista Gold (TSXV: AVA; US-OTC: ARVSF) is on a bit of a roll these days, with its stock trading at 20¢ after changing hands for as little as 3¢ a few months ago, and peaking at 37¢ in August.
Aurvista’s focus is its Douay gold project, 80 km east of the Casa Berardi mine along the Casa Berardi fault in northern Quebec, where at last count in 2012, resources stood at 2.7 million indicated tonnes grading 2.76 grams gold per tonne, plus 115 million inferred tonnes at 0.75 gram gold for a combined 3 million contained oz. gold.
Aurvista is advancing one of the smaller, higher-grade deposits at Douay named Douay West towards feasibility, as it contemplates a super pit that would encompass the wider multimillion-ounce resource.
Veteran miner Keith Minty has just come on board as Aurvista’s chief operating officer, based in the company’s Toronto headquarters.
Toronto-based Bold Ventures (TSXV: BOL) is headed up by president and CEO Richard Nemis, best known for his role in Noront Resources’ chromite discoveries in Ontario’s Ring of Fire camp.
In northern Quebec, Bold has two active projects: the Lac Grasset copper-gold-silver-zinc project, 40 km northwest of Mattagami and 2 km south of Balmoral Resources’ Grasset polymetallic property; and the Lac Surprise gold project, 70 km southwest of Chibougamau — a joint venture with Northern Superior Resources (TSXV: SUP).
Results from a recent 12-hole, 1,700-metre drilling program at the newly discovered Amber area of the Lac Surprise property has prompted planning for follow-up drilling. Meanwhile Vanstar Mining Resources (TSXV: VSR) reported an intersection of 10.3 metres of 4.43 grams gold at the adjacent Nelligan property joint ventured with Iamgold (TSX: IMG; NYSE: IAG).
Vancouver-based BonTerra Resources (TSXV: BTR) (not to be confused with oil and gas company BonTerra Energy) has its wholly owned Gladiator gold project in the Urban-Berry greenstone belt, 170 km northeast of Val-d’Or, which is comprised of two adjacent properties named Arena and Coliseum. The Gladiator gold deposit has an inferred resource of 905,000 tonnes grading 9.36 grams gold per tonne for 273,000 contained oz. gold, according to a 2012 study.
BonTerra’s drilling in 2015 and 2016 included 8,300 metres in 19 holes on a western extension of the Gladiator, with visible gold found in 16 of the holes, and results such as 5.7 metres of 24.3 grams gold in hole 16-9.
The company recently added to its till with a $310,000 financing, with funds directed to Gladiator and its Larder Lake gold project just across the border in Ontario.
BonTerra’s major shareholders include Osisko Mining (TSX: OSK); US Global Investors; CMP 2015 Resource Ltd. Partnership; Delbrook Resource Opportunities Fund; and Kerr Mines (TSX: KER).
Eastmain Resources (TSX: ER; US-OTC: EANRF) has been working away at its wholly owned Eau Claire or Clearwater gold project for many years, with little activity in 2014–2015. Since April 2016, the company has been led by president and CEO Claude Lemasson, as part of wider management turnover that included an investment and director additions from Quebec-focused Integra Gold (TSXV: ICG; US-OTC: ICGQF).
Measured and indicated resources at Eau Claire total 7.2 million tonnes at 4.09 grams gold for 951,000 contained oz. gold, plus there are 5.1 million inferred tonnes at 3.88 grams gold for 633,000 contained oz. gold.
But keep an eye on the next resource update planned for the first quarter of 2017, which will include 77% more drilling data than the previous resource estimate, including 13,000 metres drilled in late 2015 and 63,300 metres scheduled for 2016, as part of an $8.8-million exploration budget for this year.
Eastmain hopes to have a preliminary economic assessment in hand by the second half of 2017 for an open-pit gold mine.
Nemaska Lithium (TSXV: NMX; US-OTC: NMKEF) says it intends to become a lithium hydroxide supplier and lithium carbonate supplier to the emerging lithium battery market that is driven by electric vehicles, cell phones, tablets and other electric consumer products.
In recent months Nemaska has been prepping for a 60,000-tonne bulk sampling program and modular mill installation at its Whabouchi hard-rock lithium mine project in Quebec’s Eeyou Istchee-James Bay region. The bulk sample will be milled to obtain a 6% Li2O concentrate that will be processed into lithium hydroxide at Nemaska’s phase-one plant under construction in Shawinigan, Quebec.
More good news came in early September, with Nemaska reporting that its latest drill program has expanded to 50 holes over 17,000 metres from 44 drill holes over 13,700 metres after it found a lithium-bearing zone named Doris in the southwestern end of the planned pit area. Twelve drill holes have encountered Doris over substantial widths.
SAINT JEAN CARBON
From its base in Oakville, Ont., Saint Jean Carbon (TSXV: SJL) is deep into Quebec’s graphite scene, with various projects in southwestern Quebec, where it is in the midst of a four-phase work program that includes digitizing old diamond drill records, electromagnetic aerial surveying, and follow-up groundwork that could give the company what it calls “a good idea of where 90 possible mini graphite pits” would be located, which would be mined in groups to create a blended graphite product.
Saint Jean’s graphite properties have expanded this year to a portfolio totalling 81.1 sq. km, plus 81 lithium claims.
In September, Saint Jean reported that its work with the University of Western Ontario in London has helped create the first graphene that has magnetic field referred to as magnetoresistance (MR). The company comments that “creating this effect at an atomic scale is a tremendous step forward in the research and development of the company’s future in graphene products.”
In May, Saint Jean started building “the first and only North American mill” to produce shaped and coated graphite for the lithium-ion battery market.
SOCIÉTÉ D’EXPLORATION MINIERE VIOR
Société d’Exploration Minière Vior (TSXV: VIO) has a connection to Aurvista Gold, as Vior sold it the Douay gold project in 2011 for $3 million in cash and 21.25 million Aurvista shares. This 2011 agreement gave Vior a right to participate in any Aurvista share issuances.
In July 2016, Vior noted that it had wanted in on Aurvista’s latest private placement, but “agreed not to participate at the request of Aurvista,” and that it would get $120,000 in return for waiving its right to participate.
On July 25, Vior held 20.98 million Aurvista shares that were worth almost $4 million in late September.
In July, Vior closed a $740,000 private placement and started mid-year exploration at its wholly owned Foothills rutile project in the St-Urbain area, 100 km east of Quebec City.
Gérald Riverin-led Yorbeau Resources (TSX: YRB.A) has just raised a gross $1.2 million in a private placement, and will direct the funds towards exploration at its various projects in Canada.
Its primary asset is its wholly controlled, 27 sq. km Rouyn gold property, which is located 4 km south of Rouyn-Noranda and covers a 27 sq. km, 12 km long stretch of the gold-rich Cadillac-Larder Lake break. The property is divided into seven major blocks: Augmitto, Cinderella, Durbar, Lake Gamble, Wright-Rouyn, Astoria and Lake Bouzan.
Yorbeau describes Astoria and Augmitto as having substantial underground infrastructure and modern technical reports that include resource estimates.
In June, Yorbeau and Kinross Gold (TSX: K; NYSE: K) signed a letter of intent to grant Kinross an option to acquire a 100% interest of the Rouyn property. Kinross would have to spend $12 million on exploration over four years before it could buy the property outright for US$25 million in cash, plus additional funds based on the gold price, and a 2% net smelter return royalty on some resources.
Yorbeau is still trying to nail down the definitive option agreement with Kinross.