What is mineral exploration?


Québec’s geology is particularly well suited to the discovery of mineral deposits. New areas are being opened up for exploration, and existing mining areas still have significant potential.

Our province is recognized for its enormous mineral potential, its support for mineral development and the availability of high-quality geo-scientific information. However, mineral exploration is a topic that also raises a number of questions.

Is mineral exploration subject to any laws?

A legal and regulatory framework governs all mineral exploration and extraction activities in Québec. In all, 6 laws and the regulations made under them govern mining in general, including:

  • Mining Act;
  • Act respecting the lands in the domain of the State;
  • Sustainable Forest Development Act;
  • Regulation respecting standards of forest management for forests in the domain of the State;
  • Act respecting the conservation and development of wildlife;
  • Environment Quality Act.

This legislative and regulatory framework is explained by Québec’s department of energy and natural resources, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, on its website.

What are the steps in the exploration process?

There are 4 steps in the exploration process to discover a mineral deposit: exploration planning, regional reconnaissance and surveys, prospecting and ground surveys, and the verification of anomalies. A table prepared by Québec’s department of energy and natural resources, the Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles, explains the steps in the mineral exploration process, which is part of the mineral development process.

Is mineral exploration expensive?

The exploration costs for a single project are around $1 to $2 million per year, and the exploration work generally lasts between 4 and 10 years.

How much mineral exploration work is currently taking place in Québec?

Over the last 10 years, the number of active mineral claims has continued to grow. In 2012, 242,460 mineral claims covered 6.7% of Québec’s landmass. The three regions where the most exploration takes place are Nord-du-Québec, Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Côte-Nord. The GESTIM website (for the management of mineral claims) contains a range of maps showing the land currently covered by claims and the constraints on mining activity.

What minerals are found in Québec?

Many different minerals are found in Québec, and 46 mineral substances have been or are currently being mined in Québec. They include metals such as gold, silver, copper, nickel, zinc, iron, titanium, niobium, rare earth elements, etc. Non-metallic minerals include apatite, feldspath, chrysotile, diamond, salt, mica, sand, gravel, granite, marble, slate, etc.

Barbara Estor, Abitibi Geophysics