MATAGAMI LAKE MINE
The Matagami Mine is located about 10 kilometres west of the town of Matagami, Quebec, and roughly 800 kilometres north of Montreal, on the 49th parallel. The Matagami mining camp has been in operation since 1963. It has been home to 12 mines over the years, most of which have focused on zinc production. The last one, Bracemac-McLeod, ceased operations in June 2022.
The Matagami Mine is proud to have contributed to the economic vitality of the region for more than a half-century. The property has been host to 12 mines over a period of 60 years. More than 60 million tonnes of ore has been extracted.
Property map showing geology and key site locations
Chronology of past producing mines
Key moments in history
The first mineral deposits in the Matagami region were discovered in 1957, and the first of these to be confirmed viable was the Matagami Lake deposit. Mine development and concentrator construction efforts got underway in 1959 and continued until 1963, when mining and concentrate operation began.
In the years that followed, a total of 12 sulphide deposits were discovered and two additional mines (Orchan and New Hosco) went into production. A second concentrator run by Orchan Mines Limited, a subsidiary of Noranda, was commissioned that same year. The tailings from both concentrators were pumped to the Matagami tailings site.
An open pit started at the Matagami Lake mine (MLM) facility in 1970.
1973 – 1974
In 1973–1974, the tailings site was divided up for the first time in order to increase capacity, with the new Garon Lake and Norita mines starting up in 1973 and 1976, respectively.
By 1979, the Orchan mine reserves were exhausted, but the Orchan concentrator continued to operate until 1982 to process ore from other active mines. Between the decommissioning of this concentrator and the closure of MLM in 1988, all processed ore came from the Matagami Lake and Norita sites. Once the MLM reserves had been exhausted, the concentrator continued to treat ore from other nearby mines as well as the tailings of the Abcourt mine between 1985 and 1990.
The Isle-Dieu mine started up in 1989 and remained in operation until 1997.
In 1995–1996, a new tailings dam was built to create an additional pond where tailings were deposited from 1995 onward.
The Isle-Dieu mine closed in late 1997, and concentrator operations were suspended until the Bell-Allard mine opened in June 1998.
Work on the tailings site in 2002 made it possible to increase its capacity. Tailings were routed into this section between 2003 and February 2015.
When the Bell-Allard mine was closed in November 2004, the concentrator was put on “inactive” status until the Perseverance mine started production in May 2008. During this three-and-a-half-year period, the concentrator was used solely to manage and treat surface runoff water from the MLM and Orchan sites.
Development work at the Perseverance mine began in fall 2006, with commercial production kicking off on July 1, 2008. Operation ended in May 2013. Underground backfill operations were ongoing until March 2014.
The Bracemac-McLeod deposit was discovered in 2007. Development work commenced in the first quarter of 2010, and commercial production was up and running by May 2013. The tailings site was divided up once again, this time to accommodate the waste generated by the Bracemac-McLeod mine.
In 2010, a new lens, known as the McLeod Deep lens, was discovered. Mining of this deposit began in 2018 and stopped in June 2022.
Nuvau Minerals Corp signed an agreement with Glencore to acquire the Matagami mining camp through and earn-in agreement. Exploration started in April 2022.
The Archean Abitibi subprovince of Québec and Ontario is the largest greenstone belt in the world with an area of 700 by 300 km. The Abitibi Greenstone Belt is an east-trending volcano-sedimentary sequence intruded by plutonic suites that display evidence of arc evolution, arc–arc collision and arc fragmentation dating from 2,735 to 2,670 Ma. In the Thurston et al. (2008) scheme for the Abitibi greenstone belt, the Matagami volcanic rocks belong to the 2734–2724 Ma Deloro assemblage.
The Matagami district is subdivided in 2 main structural domains, North and South, separated by an important shear zone. This deformation zone has resulted in the major regional D2 deformation associated with the Opatica/Abitibi sub-provinces collisions. The North Domain is characterized by a stratigraphy and a structural grain of orientation E-W to ENE. The majority of the known volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposits of the district are spatially associated with extensive bands of felsic rocks within the South Domain that are divided into the North Flank, the South Flank and the West Camp. Regional metamorphism generally reached greenschist facies but locally amphibolite facies on the North Flank. The general volcanic stratigraphy of the South Doman is divided into the Watson Lake Group at the base, the Wabassee Group, and the Daniel Group at the top.
The Daniel Group, found within the Central Plain, is composed of mafic rocks varying from transitional to calc-alkaline basalt, with local calc-alkaline felsic units. The Wabassee Group, up to 3,000 m thick, mostly comprises massive or pillowed mafic lavas of basaltic and andesitic composition. However, local felsic units have been identified and are often linked to mineral deposits. The base of the Wabassee Group marks the end of the main hiatus in locally derived lavas. The Watson Lake Group is composed of two felsic units, a poorly exposed lower dacite (500 m thick minimum) and an upper rhyolite (1,500 m thick), termed the Watson Rhyolite. Both show good evidence of submarine volcanic textures. Conformably overlying the Watson Lake Formation is the Key Tuffite, a distinct horizon composed of laminated chert/tuff containing localized disseminated sulphides (pyrite, sphalerite, and chalcopyrite). It is a marker horizon that occurs over an extensive area within the Matagami Camp that represent a hiatus in the deposition of volcanic rocks. The Key Tuffite and most of the major deposits are located at the interface of the Watson Lake and Wabassee Groups. Some deposits are located near the base of the Wabassee group.
The massive sulphide deposits of the Matagami Camp are composed of medium to coarse-grained pyrite, sphalerite, and chalcopyrite with lesser pyrrhotite and associated magnetite. They are noted for their high zinc and copper grades with silver and gold as auxiliary components. The deposits demonstrate a variety of geometries that indicate deposition as exhalites on the sea floor through precipitation in platter/mound-shaped deposits, with sulphide pinnacles, and as precipitation of sulphides beneath the sea floor as roots within Pipe facies. Sulphides exhibit a wide variety of textures. These range from massive to very well banded with locally developed breccia textures, replacement and cross cutting features as well as stringers. Mineralization developed within Pipe alteration as a root of a keel structure can exhibit banding that is perpendicular to stratigraphy.
The main Nuvau mineral holdings consists of 1,845 mineral claims which holds all past producing mines and all known undeveloped mineral deposits.
The historic mining areas are all located in the South Flank and North Flank of the Southern Domain. Historic mines Bell-Allard, Bell-Allard Sud, Matagami Lake, Orchan, Norita, Norita Est, Lac Garon, and Radiore 2 as well as the Orchan Ouest deposit can be accessed off the main highway 109. Historic mines Isle-Dieu, Perseverance, and New-Hosco can be accessed from the airport road that connects to the main 109 Highway near the Matagami Lake mine site.
The Caber, Caber Nord, and Phelps Dodge 1 deposits are located approximately 40 km west of the town of Matagami in the West Camp of the Southern Domain. The Phelps Dodge 1 deposit is accessible via a gravel access road that connects to the paved airport road near New-Hosco at the Nottaway Bridge. From the Phelps Dodge Road, a network of branched roads give access to the Caber, Caber Nord, Daniel and Phelps Dodge 2 – Cavelier deposits. The Caber and Caber North deposits are located approximately 4 km southwest from the Phelps Dodge Road access point. The Phelps Dodge 2 – Cavelier deposits, also within the West Camp, is located approximately 30 km southwest of the town of Matagami, west of the Allard River. The Daniel deposit, located in the Northern Domain, is located approximately 14 km north from the Nottaway Bridge.
The Lynx-Yellowknife deposits is located approximately 18 km southwest of the town of Matagami in the southern portion of the West Camp. The deposit is accessible via secondary roads that connect to Route 109.
The Matagami-Dome claim block is situated approximately 18 km southwest of the town of Matagami in the townships of Galinée and La Gauchetière. The claims block is accessible via provincial Route 109 connecting Amos to Matagami. Near kilometre 205, a western leading gravel road gives access to many roads covering the claim block.
The Caber claim block lies 40 km west of the town of Matagami, in the townships of Gauchetière and Desmazures. From Matagami, it is accessible by travelling paved Route 109 and the airport road for 20 km, then the gravelled Phelps Dodge Road for 18 km. From there, a 4 km road leads to a network of branched roads that gives access to the claim block.
Also gaining access from the airport road and to the South via the Caber claims area, the B6-20 McIvor claims block is accessible by a north-south trending forestry road branching off from the airport road.
The Samson claim block is situated approximately 55 km west of the town of Matagami. The western and central portions of the claim block are accessible via a decommissioned road connecting the village of Joutel to the historic Selbaie mine as well as a network of winter roads. The eastern portion of the claim block, east of the Subercase River is accessible from the Matagami – Airport – Phelps Dodge Road and from there through a network of forestry logging roads that provide direct access to the property.
The property boasts of multiple VMS exploration targets, which have been identified over the past number of years. Key targets include, but are not limited to, Renaissance (VTEM1), Caber North, Orchan West, McLeod East, and McLeod Deep. These targets can be seen on the map below.
In addition to base metals, the property’s strategic location in the Abitibi region presents a high potential for gold mineralization, which has been largely overlooked due to the historic focus on base metals. The map below illustrates the property relative to known regional gold bearing features.
Nuvau is currently validating the defined resources of three deposits on the property – Caber, Caber North, and PD1. The resources were previously published by Glencore in 2021 and will be updated in Nuvau’s maiden technical report, expected to be completed by Q2 2023. The Glencore resource is shown in the table below.
Additionally, the company is evaluating the potential for unmined resources in the past producing mines on the property. Given that some of the highest-grade deposits were mined at a time when Zinc prices were lower, it is probable that there would be remaining resources. These mines will also be evaluated for further exploration potential and the possibility of adding additional resources.