Some glittery mining claims in the Mattawa area near the Quebec border are attracting the attention of international investors.
And while it isn’t gold, Mattawa businessman and part-time prospector Ron Montreuil is confident a full-scale development of his garnet property will occur.
He has held the claims since 1998 and actually signed an agreement with a U.S. Garnet miner in 2001.
It didn't lead to any development, but instead ended with some legal wranglings that were resolved a few years ago.
“There has been interest, but no commitments yet,” he said. “Many large mining companies have looked over the property and some Chinese investors were here not too long ago to look it over.”
They indicated they wanted to hold a meeting in the near future with all the stakeholders, including government and First Nations.
The 12 claims Montreuil owns are about 20 kilometres from the town, in Mattawan Twp., close to Highway 533. The property is also close to a rail line and hydro is less than a kilometre away.
“The access is unbelievable,” Montreuil said. “It’s a really good location.”
He stumbled upon the garnet years before making an official claim since it was near some property he owned in the area and hopes to see a mine someday.
“I would like to see a processing and bagging plant on site since that would bring a lot of jobs to the area and spinoffs for the whole area. If not, there is someone else interested in doing the work offsite,” he said.
“Just think what that would do for the town and the region. It would be a really big boost and we need it.”
The only work done on the property has been some testing and stripping. So far, about a dozen geologists have visited and undertaken some work.
The geological reports, Montreuil said, indicate an excellent grade. He has a permit to take bulk samples.
There might be some rare earths, gold, copper, graphite and mica in the mix, which doesn’t come as a surprise to Montreuil.
“You just never know what you find.”
The Mattawa-Bonfield Economic Development Corporation assisted Montreuil in seeking out possible funding opportunities to further develop the project.
“The demand for garnet is widespread. It is used in sandblasting, water cutting, sandpaper and abrasives, polishing and water filtration,” Montreuil said.
“With all the geologists that have been on site, they can’t see why it hasn’t been developed yet. The potential here is great.”
It is also a replacement for silica sands, utilized in sandblasting, since it produces non-detectable or lower levels of airborne crystalline silica. Silica sands have been associated with acute and accelerated forms of silicosis among sandblasters.
“I want to take this project to the next level. People are starting to know about it and it seems everything is starting to happen and something will happen. I don’t think it will be left to just sit here. I am looking for investors who will develop it, produce it and create some jobs.”