Being a perimeter of the prolific Abitibi Gold Belt has made Val d’Or, Quebec a hotbed of mining activity for about a century. After all, the Abitibi Gold Belt is part of the prolific Abitibi Greenstone Belt that has been the home to more than 100 mines producing in excess of 170 million ounces of gold. Greenstone belts are known to host economical deposits of gold (and other minerals) and Abitibi is one of the largest greenstone belts in the world.
The name Val d’Or itself, which is French for “Valley of Gold,” is about enough to send miners by the dozens to the region. It’s not just a playground for majors, several junior miners are showcasing the gold in their property, including Metanor Resources (TSX-Venture:MTO) announcing last week that it had a record gold pour of 1,079 ounces in the prior week from its Bachelor Mine in Val d’Or.
Monarques Resources Inc. (TSX-Venture:MQR) has aggressively built quite a large land position in Val d’Or. The list of acquisitions this year has been extensive, but most recently, in September, the Quebec City-based company acquired a 50% interest in the Simkar gold property from Eloro Resources. Subsequent to the acquisition, the two companies formed a joint venture to manage and explore the 4-km² property in the heart of the Abitibi Greenstone Belt.
There is no commercial production on the property currently, but Louvicourt Goldfield produced about 31,915 ounces of gold (avg. grade of 4.62 g/t) in the 1940’s and 20,000 ounces of gold (avg. grade of 8.42 g/t) between 1987 and 1993 from three main zones. Additional exploration by Megastar Resources identified three more gold-bearing zones and a new high-potential gold structure. As part of its acquisition, Monarques is conducting $750,000 in exploration work by June 2014.
That is just one of the properties in the Monarques portfolio in Val d’Or. Cumulatively, Monarques owns properties that cover more than 100 km² in Val-d’Or, comprising a total of 399 claims, two mining leases and over $1.76 million in credits from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
On Tuesday, the company said that it is expanding its footprint through the signing of a purchase agreement with Critical Elements Corp. to acquire an undivided 50% interest in the Croinor property in the Val d’Or area. Today’s move is part of a bigger plan to gain total control of the property. In October, Monarques signed an agreement to acquire X-Ore Resources Inc., which owns the other 50 percent of the Croinor property as part of a joint venture with Critical Elements. X-Ore is the operator at Croinor, a 55-km² property comprised of 212 mining claims that has accumulated over $7.5 million in work credits with the Ministry of Natural Resources.
As part of the acquisition from Critical Elements, Monarques is transferring ownership of 11 mining properties in the James Bay area and giving Critical Elements 500,000 common shares of MQR. The divesture of the James Bay assets concentrates Monarques’ properties exclusively in and around Val d’Or.
“It was time for innovation and I believe that this transaction was necessary in the current market. With this transfer of properties, we have shifted assets on which no work was planned in the mid-range term, to assets (Croinor) that consolidates and strengthens our position in Val d’Or,” said Jean-Marc Lacoste, President and Chief Executive Officer of Monarques, in a statement today.
Although more cash will certainly be needed, the company has also recently raised a gross amount of $252,000 for exploration efforts. Shares of MQR are lower by half a cent at 10.5 cents in early afternoon trading activity on Monday on negligible volume of 700 shares. Like so many other miners, shares are down sharply in 2013, losing about half their value, although shares are up about 50% from lows in July.