"From here, the plan is to drill, drill and drill, our objective being to get to a multimillion ounce deposit."
What made 2020 a transitional year for Québec Precious Metals (QPM)?
QPM was created to find the next gold mine in the James Bay region. In 2020, the big change that occurred was our discovery of a 3.5 km long extension of the existing La Pointe deposit. From here, the plan is to drill, drill and drill, our objective being to get to a multimillion ounce deposit that will be of a size that is sufficient to be sold to a company who can develop it. We are explorers, we know James Bay well, and we have a strong working relationship with the local Cree community, which provides a distinct advantage for our company.
In addition to the La Pointe Extension, QPM also discovered Lloyd at Elmer East. What is the significance of this discovery?
Elmer is interesting because this is an area where Azimut Explorations announced a significant discovery in early 2020. We had projects in the area where we had done some surface work. We did a comprehensive targeting study with the assistance of GoldSpot Discoveries, which is also a significant shareholder. Based on the results of that study, plus the results from a mag airborne survey, we went to the field and came up with the Lloyd prospect discovery. We did two rounds of sampling, and although it is early days, it looks very encouraging. We will go back into the field later this year to further assess and extend the asset with a view of eventually drilling.
How has QPM nurtured close ties with local communities in the James Bay region?
There are three nearby Cree communities nearby: Chisasibi, Wemindji and Radisson. These are well established communities with infrastructure services, and they are connected by road. Although considered remote, this area is accessible and you can work 12 months a year at a reasonable cost.
The area has historically had good community relations even before the development of the Éléonore mine. In the 1970's, when Hydro Québec came in to build power lines, the James Bay Agreement was signed, and there have been two other agreements since then to foster economic development. The Cree authority, which is a semi-autonomous government authority in the region, must see clearly quantifiable benefits from industrial development, but also has to see that it is done responsibly with their participation and consultation. QPM is a small exploration company, but we want to create partnerships at the earliest possible stage. We have also included Cree and indigenous people as part of our drilling and camp crew. The next step is to get them engaged, doing more drilling and surface work by creating a formal partnership.
How is AI transforming the way exploration is conducted?
If you do not have good data, you are not going to generate good targets. If you have no data, then there is no target. Spending time looking for qualitative data is the first step regardless of whether you are using AI or not. AI has tremendous advantages when you have a lot of data. In exploration, we are not there yet. At mine sites that have been in operation for decades, you have a lot of data. Several AI exercises at mine sites show that it can generate targets that otherwise would be very difficult to identify by a group of experienced geologists. In our case, it helps to focus on areas that may not be so obvious. I consider it a support tool, but it does not replace the judgment of experienced geologists and of the area that you are working in. Geology remains of paramount importance.
What is the strongest investment case for QPM?
We have continuous news flow, as we have been generating very positive drill results. We are advancing to the mineral resource estimate stage, which is the stage where you create the most value by identifying a significant resource and then having another company develop it, similar to how Virginia Gold sold Éléonore to Goldcorp in 2004 for approximately C$420 million. We have exploration rights on a lot of land to find more in this promising area of James Bay, and we believe James Bay is like the Abitibi was 100 years ago. We are still scratching the surface with a lot to be found. Our flagship Sakami project includes a favorable structure that is 23 kilometers long, and we have a strong shareholder base made up of Newmont and Québec institutions. We also have a great team that is well capitalized, and we have the ability to continue to raise capital when needed.