The search for minerals in Québec has yielded bountiful discoveries since the time of the great explorers. This section highlights a number of milestones in the history of Québec’s mining industry.
Chevalier de Troyes discovers lead, zinc, and silver deposits in Abitibi-Témiscamingue along the shores of Lac Témiscamingue. The deposits sink into oblivion for 200 years, before being tapped in the 1890s.
The first discovery of gold nuggets is in the Chaudière-Appalaches region.
Eustis Mine, the first copper mine, starts production near Sherbrooke.
Joseph Fecteau, a farmer, discovers asbestos in the Thetford township.
William Jeffrey discovers an asbestos deposit in the Asbestos area. Asbestos mining begins at the Bell Mine in Thetford Mines. Mining of asbestos at the Jeffrey Mine begins in 1881.
Québec adopts its first mining legislation, the Mining Act. With this Act the government acquires ownership of the subsoil. It claims ownerships of all mines in its territory, which it thereafter grants to third parties.
The development of northwestern Québec dominates the mining landscape. Abitibi-Témiscamingue accounts for 90% of all mining claims registered in Québec. Mining companies extract copper, gold, iron, and asbestos.
Mining expands to several regions. In addition to deposits in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, others are found in Chibougamau (Nord-du-Québec), Côte-Nord, Labrador, the Gaspé Peninsula, and Estrie.
There is an upsurge in iron production in Côte-Nord, gold and copper in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, and asbestos in Estrie.
Construction of mining facilities (open pit, crusher, grinder and concentrator) at Mont-Wright and in the town of Fermont.
North of the municipality of Cadillac in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, the Thompson Bousquet Mine starts up operations in 1978, followed by the Doyon Mine in 1979. Later the LaRonde (Dumagami) and Bousquet 2 deposits are tapped in 1988 and 1990, respectively. The Bousquet-Cadillac mining camp is Québec’s main gold-producing area, encompassing the Doyon, Mouska, and LaRonde mines.
Diamonds are discovered east of Ungava Bay and near the Otish Mountains.
Between February and May of 2002, Québec sees a huge upsurge in mining claim acquisitions, with over 46,000 claims registered. Of these, 42,000 are in Québec’s near north region after the announcement of the December 2001 discovery.
Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. and SOQUEM Inc. discover nine diamondiferous kimberlite bodies, the Renard cluster, on the Foxtrot property. A bulk sample of 36.5 tons from several kimberlites in the central zone of the Renard cluster reveals a total of 24 carats of diamonds, yielding a diamond content of 0.66 carats per ton. Forty-nine of these diamonds weigh at least 0.10 carat. One of the precious stones sampled weighs in at more than 4 carats. It is, to date, the largest diamond ever found in Québec
Ashton Mining of Canada Inc. and SOQUEM Inc. invest about $18 million in the Foxtrot property, notably to extract a bulk 639-ton sample of kimberlite material from the Renard cluster so they can assess its diamond potential. The first 269 tons processed yield 97 carats. A cluster of kimberlite dykes called “Lynx” is identified and explored west of the Renard cluster.
Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles