QMX Gold has been working in Québec’s famous Val d’Or Mining Camp since around 2003, when it acquired several land packages from Aur Resources and focused on developing the Lac Herbin deposit, which came into commercial production in 2008. Over the next decade or so, QMX utilised its 100% owned, fully permitted Aurbel mill and tailings site while running down the life of the Lac Herbin mine. After coming into some financial difficulties during the nadir of the commodity price cycle in 2015-16, the company decided to restructure with a sole focus on its current exploration property package in the heart of the Val d’Or Mining Camp.
The bustling mining camp – the name of which means ‘valley of gold’ in French – is a 20 million ounce production centre within the legendary Abitibi Greenstone Belt, which itself is the world’s third largest gold district and is yet still underexplored in large swathes, including in Val d’Or. This makes the region one of the most attractive settings in the world for exploration firms, and QMX has been advancing a systematic programme of evaluation, targeting and drilling across a massive 200km² land package over the last three years.
“From 2017 until now, we have been going through the historic data, picking high priority targets and getting into drilling,” says QMX CEO and president Brad Humphrey. “We’ve developed a resource at our most advanced project called Bonnefond and that continues to expand. We also have a number of really exciting targets we’ve been drilling this year including River and Poulmaque. This winter, we will have another large programme where we’ll get on to additional targets that we haven’t been able to drill yet, so it’s a really exciting time; we have four rigs turning at the moment and we’re going to add an additional three going into the winter programme.”
QMX’s post-2016 strategy was dependent on it being able to raise funds for exploration campaigns, which seemed like a tough ask at a time when investors were not warming to the junior segment of the market.
However, Humphrey has been thrilled to receive consistent support from capital raises and corporate investors over the last three years. Several neighbouring mining firms in Val d’Or jumped at the opportunity to build a stronger understanding of the regional geology by investing in QMX’s exploration work.
Neighbours lend a hand
Strategic investors in QMX include Eldorado Gold (18%), Osisko Gold Royalties (6.1%), Probe Metals (4%) and more recently O3 Mining and renowned Canadian gold bull Eric Sprott have come on board following the publication of several excellent drill results earlier this year.
“Even though this is one of the least expensive places on the planet to do drilling, we still needed to raise money. We got good support from individuals and these corporates. It’s been great to have that support, particularly at that time when the markets weren’t necessarily all that open to funding exploration companies,” says Humphrey.
Equipped with healthy doses of capital funding, QMX has been able to complete a remarkable 90,000 metres of drilling between 2017 and 2019, with an additional 45,000 metres planned in 2020. These metres have contributed to the development of a new geologic understanding of the region.
In a nutshell, the drilling has indicated the presence of gold across the entire property, with the Bonnefond Deposit acting as the centre piece. In the East Zone, the company has received high grade intercepts at Bevcon and to the West of Bonnefond, similar results have been achieved at River.
“Everywhere we put on a drill programme, we have come back with a lot of success. This is a spectacular land position and this year was really the first time we were funded enough to have multiple programmes going on, so its been a really exciting time.”
The July 2019 maiden resource for Bonnefond estimated that there were 258,000 ounces of gold in the indicated category and 145,000 ounces in the inferred, but QMX has since conducted further drilling at the deposit to move more of the inferred into the indicated while also attempting to expand inferred resources within the higher grade section of the shear zones.
“I think we’ve been successful in doing that and we do expect our next resource update at Bonnefond to be a fairly meaningful percentage increase across both categories.”
Humphrey ensures that the results will be released to the market in the near future but cannot put an exact timescale on when that will be as the company has been hit with delays stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, which have impacted all levels of the supply chain in the exploration sector.
“I’m super excited to see this resource, but perhaps underestimated the delays that were going to impact us from COVID. The increase in work in the local area has expanded turnaround times on assay labs and there are delays on access to engineering because there are so many projects going on.
“We are in constant communication with our third party working on the resource and they have assured us that it is progressing. We are as eager as everybody to see what the result will be and I do hope to see that shortly.”
Adding more rigs and crew members
In a period of unprecedented difficulty for people and organisations around the world and across the mining industry, QMX has been able to press on with its planned 45,000 metres drilling programme this year, and has even been lucky enough to attract additional staff to work on the campaign in a COVID-safe environment.
And for the upcoming 35,000 metres winter programme, QMX is adding three more rigs along with additional crews to work on follow up drilling at the New Louvre and Bevcon/Buffadison deposits.
“There are areas on our property which are easier to drill in the winter, particularly to the East of Bonnefond and there’s a number of really interesting targets in that 5 km trend that we’ll be drilling on this winter. We hope to continue our great success at the drill bit and further show the true underlying value of this property.”
QMX is also actively pursuing custom milling opportunities in and around a wider perimeter surrounding the Aurbel mill and tailings facility, although Humphrey emphasises that this is not a primary focus of the business.
“In the meantime, we’ve worked out an agreement with 03 Mining whereby they have the option to acquire that asset, but we maintain our access to 650 tonnes per day. They have the opportunity to use and expand it, but we would retain our right to process material through that milling facility, should we get a deposit into production in a short period of time. It’s a great agreement and a nice asset to have.”
The start of something big
With an enviable land package right in the centre of the highly prospective Val d’Or Mining Camp, QMX is in the right postcode to grow substantially via exploration alone in the coming years. In fact, a cursory glance at the valuations of some of its more advanced neighbours gives a sense of the value proposition inherent within the company.
“Probe is a couple years ahead of us and you can see what their valuation is, O3 put their property package together not too long ago and their valuation speaks for itself. I believe that is where we are going too.
“I believe we will be able to show that Bonnefond is much bigger in the coming years, starting with this upcoming interim update. Ever since we’ve been working on the resource, we’ve continued to drill. We’ve shown its growing to the East and West, we’ve had some assays pending from the North, we’ve shown it grows at depth and we’re drilling to the South as well.”
In particular, Humphrey mentions the 5 km trend between Bonnefond and Bevcon as being a top target for further drilling. “We can see that whole Eastern side growing to be quite significant in the future.”
Then there are the reconnaissance programmes taking place in the Bourlamaque Zone at the River and Poulmaque targets, which have the potential to grow into significant resources along with several other targets across the property.
“Although there have been delays across the entire industry, we have lots of drilling going on, lots of assays pending and our resource estimate is progressing, all of which would be positive catalysts for the story,” Humphrey concludes.