The History of the Abitibi Gold Belt
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The History of the Abitibi Gold Belt

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The following content is sponsored by the Clarity Gold

The Abitibi: Canada’s Golden Powerhouse

At the heart of Canada lies a greenstone belt that has provided the nation with more than 90% of its gold production. With more than 100 years of gold discovery in the Abitibi region located between Québec and Ontario, this area was the kiln that helped forge the Canadian mining industry.

Ever since the discovery of gold at Lac Fortune in 1906, the Abitibi has grown to become one of the world’s most prolific gold mining regions, and has produced over 190 million ounces of gold.

This graphic sponsored by Clarity Gold maps the history of gold discovery in the Abitibi and showcases the region’s overburden thickness. With a history of prolific discovery and production, there’s still plenty to explore under the Abitibi’s areas of thick overburden.

A Timeline of Gold Discovery in the Abitibi

Canada, known more for beaver pelts and timber, did not reveal its riches immediately. There were only a handful of gold discoveries in its early history. Gold was first discovered in 1823, on the shores of Rivière Chaudière in Québec, further east of the region known as the Abitibi today.

But as settlers spread west, gold surfaced in British Columbia and the Yukon in the late 1800s, kicking off the Cariboo and Klondike gold rushes. It wasn’t until the 1900s that gold was found in the Abitibi greenstone belt, marking the beginning of the modern era for the Canadian mining industry.

First Discovery and the Porcupine Gold Rush

Gold within the Abitibi was first discovered on the shores of Lac Fortune in 1906, by Alphonse Olier and Auguste Renault. This first discovery was notable, but didn’t result in an immediate gold rush and mine development in the region.

Instead, it was a gold discovery in 1909 further west that kicked off what would be known as the Porcupine Gold Rush in Northern Ontario. The dome-shaped rock where the gold vein was discovered was developed into the Dome mine, which grew to become one of the three historic mines in the Timmins area.

Along with the establishment of the Dome mine, this gold rush also saw the development of the Hollinger and McIntyre mines which were both producing gold by 1912. These three mines have served as powerhouses of Canadian gold production for decades, delivering more than 45 million ounces of gold collectively.

MineGold Produced
Dome Mine17M oz
Hollinger Mine19.5M oz
McIntyre Mine10.8M oz

Source: Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry

This first gold rush was just the beginning of the Abitibi region’s mining boom, with other discoveries on the Quebec side of the region also being developed around the same time.

The Mining Boom on the Cadillac Fault

As the Dome, Hollinger, and McIntyre mines were being developed and started producing gold, another key gold discovery occurred in the Malartic-Val d’Or region. This discovery by J.J. Sullivan and Hertel Authier wasn’t quite enough for mine development to begin right away, but further discoveries in the surrounding areas were highlighting the golden exploration potential of the Abitibi region.

In 1922, Edmund Horne discovered a gold deposit near Osisko Lake, not far from the first gold discovery by Lac Fortune with Tom Powel discovering a rich gold vein nearby the same year. A third gold discovery in 1923 in the Malartic area by the Gouldie brothers marked the beginning of a mining development boom all along the Cadillac fault where these discoveries were occurring.

Over the next two decades, the fault saw hundreds of mining claims every year, with the towns of Rouyn, Noranda, Cadillac, and Malartic all growing alongside mine development and production. By 1931, Rouyn and Noranda had become the second and third most cosmopolitan cities in Quebec after Montreal, with gold mines bringing waves of workers and explorers.

Leaps in Gold Exploration Technology

Over the following decades, technological advances in transportation and deposit detection have allowed gold discovery and development to flourish in the Abitibi region. Aerial detection methods helped identify new deposits, and the development of Canada’s sprawling railway systems allowed for easier access and transportation of materials and people.

These advances resulted in the discovery of the Detour Lake deposit along with discoveries that would go on to become the Ansil, Doyon, and Louvicourt mines. Today, historic mines born from decade-old discoveries like Detour Lake and the Malartic mine are still producing gold.

Across the many different mining camps, the Abitibi region has produced more than 190 million ounces of gold and counting today.

Mining CampGold Produced
Timmins76.6M oz
Kirkland Lake46.8M oz
Doyon-Bousquet-LaRonde25M oz
Rouyn-Noranda19.5M oz
Val D'Or18.4M oz
Malartic10.5M oz
Holloway-McDermott3.8M oz
Chibougamau3.2M oz
Detour Lake3M oz
Casa Berardi3M oz
Beattie and Donchester1.5M oz

Sources: MNDM Statistics, Kirkland Lake Gold, CBay Minerals, Agnico Eagle, Hecla Mining Company, Midland Exploration

The Abitibi’s Golden Geology and Undiscovered Future

The Abitibi’s storied history of gold discovery and production stems from its 2.6 billion year old greenstone belt, the defining geological factor of the region. Greenstone belts are ancient terrain formed by volcanic flows alongside sedimentary rocks that often contain orebodies of gold, copper, silver, lead, and zinc.

Formed over millions of years, greenstone belts begin with the rising of lava and magma through crustal faults that fill a variety of basins across the region. Over extended time, erosion and plate tectonics resulted in high amounts of pressure and heat compressing layers of greenstone rock and gold-bearing volcanic flows to form orebodies of gold and other minerals.

Covering the greenstone belt and its golden deposits is a layer of overburden, topsoil that can range from 1-20 meters of depth. Many of the early discoveries were located near to the surface, leaving further gold potential at depth to future generations.

While many of the areas with thin overburden have been heavily explored and developed, explorers in the region like Clarity Gold are working to discover the gold deposits that lie further underneath thick layers of overburden.

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The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills.

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Road to Decarbonization - How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

The Road to Decarbonization: How Asphalt is Affecting the Planet

Asphalt, also known as bitumen, has various applications in the modern economy, with annual demand reaching 110 million tons globally.

Until the 20th century, natural asphalt made from decomposed plants accounted for the majority of asphalt production. Today, most asphalt is refined from crude oil.

This graphic, sponsored by Northstar Clean Technologies, shows how new technologies to reuse and recycle asphalt can help protect the environment.

The Impact of Climate Change

Pollution from vehicles is expected to decline as electric vehicles replace internal combustion engines.

But pollution from asphalt could actually increase in the next decades because of rising temperatures in some parts of the Earth. When subjected to extreme temperatures, asphalt releases harmful greenhouse gases (GHG) into the atmosphere.

Emissions from Road Construction (Source) CO2 equivalent (%)
Asphalt 28%
Concrete18%
Excavators and Haulers16%
Trucks13%
Crushing Plant 10%
Galvanized Steel 6%
Reinforced Steel6%
Plastic Piping 2%
Geotextile1%

Asphalt paved surfaces and roofs make up approximately 45% and 20% of surfaces in U.S. cities, respectively. Furthermore, 75% of single-family detached homes in Canada and the U.S. have asphalt shingles on their roofs.

Reducing the Environmental Impact of Asphalt

Similar to roads, asphalt shingles have oil as the primary component, which is especially harmful to the environment.

Shingles do not decompose or biodegrade. The U.S. alone generates ∼12 million tons of asphalt shingles tear-off waste and installation scrap every year and more than 90% of it is dumped into landfills, the equivalent of 20 million barrels of oil.

But most of it can be reused, rather than taking up valuable landfill space.

Using technology, the primary components in shingles can be repurposed into liquid asphalt, aggregate, and fiber, for use in road construction, embankments, and new shingles.

Providing the construction industry with clean, sustainable processing solutions is also a big business opportunity. Canada alone is a $1.3 billion market for recovering and reprocessing shingles.

Northstar Clean Technologies is the only public company that repurposes 99% of asphalt shingles components that otherwise go to landfills.

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A Visual Guide to the Science Behind Cultured Meat

Cultured meat could become a $25 billion market by 2030, but investment into the technologies that underpin the industry is required.

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A Visual Guide to the Science Behind Cultured Meat

Cultured foods—also known as cell-based foods—are expected to turn our global food system as we know it on its head.

In fact, the cultured meat market is estimated to reach an eye-watering $25 billion by 2030 according to McKinsey, but only if it can overcome hurdles such as price parity and consumer acceptance. To do so, significant innovation in the science behind these products will be crucial for the industry’s growth.

In the graphic above from our sponsor CULT Food Science, we provide a visual overview of some of the technologies behind the creation of cultured meat products.

What is Cultured Meat?

To start, cultured meat is defined as a genuine animal meat product that is created by cultivating animal cells in a controlled lab environment—eliminating the need to farm animals for food almost entirely.

“Cultured meat has all the same fat, muscles, and tendons as any animal…All this can be done with little or no greenhouse gas emissions, aside from the electricity you need to power the land where the process is done.”
—Bill Gates

Because cultured meat is made of the same cell types and structure found in animal tissue, the sensory and nutritional profiles are like-for-like. Let’s dive into how these products are made.

The Science and Technology Behind Cultured Meat

The main challenge facing the cultured meat market is producing products at scale. But thanks to the vast amount of research in the stem cell biology space, the science behind cultured foods is not entirely new.

Given that we are in the very early days of applying these learnings to producing food products, those looking to invest in companies contributing to the industry’s growth stand to benefit. Here is an overview of some of the technologies that underpin the industry that you should know:

1. Bioprocess Design

This is the process of using living cells and their components to create new products. According to experts like the Good Food Institute, bioprocess design holds the key to unlocking cultured meat production at scale.

Specifically, innovation in bioreactor (where the cells grow) design represents a massive opportunity for companies and investors alike.

2. Tissue Engineering

Tissue engineering techniques are used to produce cultured meat that resembles real meat textures and flavors. The first step is taking tissue from the animal for the purpose of extracting stem cells and creating cell lines.

The extracted stem cell lines are then cultivated in a nutrient rich environment, mimicking in-animal tissue growth and producing muscle fibers inside a bioreactor. The muscle fibers are processed and mixed with additional fats and ingredients to assemble the finished meat product.

3. Cell Lines

Cell lines refer to the different types of cells that can be propagated repeatedly and sometimes indefinitely.

Access to cell lines is a major challenge facing the industry today and is an area that requires significantly more research. This is because there is not just one cell type that can be used in cellular agriculture to produce cultured food products.

4. Cell Culture Media

Cells (or cell cultures) require very specific environmental conditions. Cell culture media is a gel or liquid that contains the nutrients needed to support growth outside of the body.

More research in this space is needed to determine optimized formulations and make these products more affordable.

5. Scaffolding

Scaffolds are 3D cell culture platforms that mimic the structure of complex biological tissues, such as skeletal muscle. This platforms can be created through the use of 3D Bioprinting.

Scaffolds are predominantly made up of collagen and gelatin. The problem is these are both animal-derived ingredients which defeats the purpose of cell-based products. Therefore, more sustainable plant-derived options are also being explored.

Investing in the Future of Cultured Meat

CULT Food Science is an innovative investment platform advancing the technology behind the future of food with an exclusive focus on cultured meat, cultured dairy, and cell-based foods.

The company’s global portfolio spans four continents and includes exposure to a diverse pipeline:

  • Cell lines
  • End products
  • Scaffolding technology
  • Growth medium
  • Intellectual property

>>>Want to stay updated? Click here to subscribe to the CULT Food Science mailing list.

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