Explore, Discover and Learn
We recently attended the 2013 Quebec Mining Exploration Convention in Quebec City. The four day convention (November 11th to 14th) was organized by the Quebec Mineral Exploration Association (QMEA). The theme of the convention was Explore, Discover and Learn. The convention was well attended and had more than 200 exhibitors.
There were a number of workshops held on the first day discussing various topics including, exploration extraction methods, project economic evaluation and company governance rules and best practices. The three days of technical meetings included a session on Quebec’s key exploration projects with presentations from Focus Graphite Inc. (TSXV:FMS, $0.33, NR), Adventure Gold, Inc. (TSXV:AGE, $0.11, NR) and Northern Superior Resources, Inc. (TSXV:SUP, $0.04, NR), among others.
There were also discussions on the challenges that junior exploration companies are currently facing; most speakers agreed that it is a bear market for commodities and that some exploration and junior mining companies may discontinue operations. Speakers offered survival tips for exploration companies which included preserving cash, strategic mergers, and targeting desirable metals and low capex projects. Resource Quebec presented mining investment statistics data for Quebec which showed that there has been a significant decline in mining investments in 2012 compared to 2011, for
projects at all stages of development.
Given our focus on strategic and less common metals/materials, the high tech metals session was of particular interest to us. The session started with a presentation from Prof. Iain Samson from the University of Windsor, who offered a general overview of the mineralogy and geological formation of a number of industrial metals deposits. The presentation
showed that many of these metals are widely spread on the earth’s crust and in some cases associated with tens of minerals. However, he concluded that these metals are often found at low concentrations requiring complex beneficiation and chemical processes; and it is therefore important to understand the mineralogy as well as the beneficiation complexities of these elements at early stages of project development.
There were a number of company presentations, including Canada Lithium Corp. (TSX:CLQ, $0.40, SPEC BUY, $0.55), which has the Quebec Lithium deposit near Val-d’Or; the project is in advanced commission stages and the company expects to start commercial production in 1Q 2014; IAMGOLD Corp. (TSX:IMG, $4.80, NR)/Niobec, one the world’s largest producers of niobium, presented the exploration results from its recently defined carbonatite REE deposit, Niobec does not seem to have near term plans to advance its REE project. There was also a presentation from MDN Inc. (TSX:MDN, $0.06, NR), which is developing the Crevier Niobium (Nb)-Tantalum (Ta) project and has developed a lixiviation based process to produce high value Nb and Ta products. Matamec Explorations, Inc. (TSXV:MAT, $0.11, SPEC BUY, $0.22) offered an update of its pilot-tests, the company recently completed and filled the first rare earth feasibility study. Matamec was also awarded the prestigious “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” by the Québec Mineral Exploration Association (AEMQ) for its work in developing the Kipawa Heavy Rare Earth Elements (HREE) Project. The convention received the collaboration of Resource Investment Quebec, with participation of Sodemex, Fonds de Solidarite FTQ and Sidex. Next year the conference will be in the city of Montreal.