The St Pierre PER was granted in February 2014 and covers an area of 386 square kilometres around the La Bellière gold mine located in the Department of Maine et Loire, approximately 60 kilometres east of the regional centre Nantes . This important hard-rock gold district is believed to be the third largest gold producer in France.

From 1906 to 1952 the mine produced about 338,000 ounces of gold (plus silver) up to a maximum depth of 170 metres below surface intermittently over a strike length of about 1.6 kilometre. The average production grade was 12gpt Au, mined from a series stacked, high grade veins hosted within an east-west oriented shear zone. The high grade quartz – sulphide veins individually vary in true thickness from 1 to 16 metres and dip steeply to the south.

Plan and long section views of La Belliere mine.

Plan and long section views of La Belliere mine. Mining is recorded over a 1.6
kilometre strike length to a depth of just 170 metres.


labelliere cross
Cross section through Emmanuel - La Bellière mine


Within the shear, between these thicker veins, the country rocks are invaded by structurally controlled stockwork vein / veinlet arrays identical in composition to the main lodes. Old records obtained by Variscan document zones of lower grade material between the high grade veins which were not mined. The width of the mineralised shear is known to approach 30-50 metres in the mine workings and offers bulk mineable potential.

The richest part of the La Bellière deposit is characterised by large scale and very intense quartz – sericite – pyrite hydrothermal alteration. Given the scale and intensity of this alteration and the nature and style of the mineralisation, Variscan believes that La Bellière displays the hallmarks of a major orogenic shear hosted gold system with potential to host multi-million ounce gold deposits.

Within the region outside the La Bellière shear a number of other gold bearing east-west to east-north-east striking shear zones have been identified, cutting across gently dipping Brioverian aged siliclastics (largely greywackes and phyllites). Recent field work by Variscan has included a broad auger soil programme to help identify arsenic / antinomy / lead anomalism associated with these auriferous shear zones as well as detailed traversing and rock chip sampling.

Highly encouraging ALS assay results were received from the chip sampling programme, with seven samples grading above 10g/t gold including a peak assay of 159g/t gold recorded.

Five areas of interest were identified in the work. Four are associated with subsidiary shears to the La Bellière mine structure and are outside the main area of settlement:

  • La Bellière - a number of high grade results up to 18.8g/t gold were generated from sampling of remnant quartz vein material preserved at the at the top of the La Bellière mine, confirming the gold tenor of veining within remnant mineralised blocks.
  • Autriche - An assay of 159g/t gold was recorded in quartz veining, possibly within a parallel shear to the La Bellière structure at the Autriche prospect, to the north of the gold mine.
  • Belleville - The Belleville prospect is located in an east-west oriented shear zone defined over a 1.8 kilometre strike length. Former BRGM work included soil sampling, trenching and shallow RAB drilling defining a gold anomalous zone. Rock chip assays of 28.6g/t gold and 3.04g/t gold were recorded on the shear structure 1.1 kilometres apart.    
  • Bégrolle - A rock chip gold assay of 21.5g/t gold was recorded in the eastern extension of the Bégrolle shear zone approximately two kilometres south of La Bellière. Bégrolle operated in the 1910's as a small underground mine near the Evre River.
  • La Rouillère - A rock chip assay of 37g/t gold was recorded in a sample taken from strongly oxidised breccia containing limonite, goethite, pyrite and visible gold to the north of the La Rouillère shear zone (believed to be the western extension of the Bégrolle shear zone). The BRGM conducted significant work in this area including shallow RAB and core drilling. The results of this work are currently being complied and interpreted.


Key prospects and gold assays from rock chip sampling in St Pierre PER. 

Key prospects and gold assays from rock chip sampling in St Pierre PER. Numerals
represent peak gold grades - g/t gold



Soil sampling covered the western end of the shear zone where a rock chip sample grading 21.5g/t gold was obtained by Variscan. A large 800 x 500 metre zone of strongly anomalous values with numerous assays in excess of 100ppb gold has been defined which included a top value of 2420ppb gold (2.42g/t gold) in soils near the centre of the anomaly, 50 metres north of the high grade rock chip sample.

Within the gold anomaly the soil sampling has defined a linear trend of highly anomalous samples with a similar orientation to gold bearing shear structure at the La Bellière Mine. Former BRGM exploration in this area included shallow percussion drilling (generally around 40-50 metres deep) which, from available data, appears to have tested part of the anomaly and intersected gold bearing zones.

The controls on the mineralisation and the gold-in-soil anomalism are currently incompletely understood. Two traverses of shallow RC drilling are planned to test Belleville shortly.


St Pierre soil sampling results

Gold-in-soil results from Belleville / Bégrolle prospects. Triangular points are rock
chips (g/t gold). Underlying contours are from the initial soil programme with all
assay points, including latest extension to survey plotted over the top.



At Bégrolle work has defined a linear, one kilometre long, east-west oriented zone of gold anomalism. The soil sampling recorded a number of plus 100ppb gold assays, notably in the western half of the zone, with a top value of 228ppb gold (or 0.23g/t gold).

This zone relates to a series of old shallow gold workings (pits and adits) which followed sulphide-bearing quartz veining within silicified sediments. The BRGM conducted some shallow drilling towards the east and west extremities of the shear although available records recovered to date are incomplete. 

Ville Tirard

During the final years of mining in the St Pierre region, two inclined drill holes (circa 1952) approximately 40 and 60 metres deep are recorded to have been drilled below outcropping mineralisation at the western end of the main La Bellière shear system approximately 200 metres north of the old St Antonie gold mine.

In reports held by the BRGM both holes are recorded to have intersected broad zones (estimated >15-20 metres true width) of gold mineralisation with individual assays between 0.5 to 33g/t gold, averaging in the range of 3-4 g/t Au.


Ville Tirard diagram 

Approximate location of Ville Tirard prospect and drill collars from 1952 drilling
projected onto the plan view of La Bellière gold mine workings


Given the age of the drilling, the precise position of the collars is uncertain, so Variscan plans to drill two shallowly inclined core holes, each to about 150 metres, to cross the projected position of the shear and to intersect the mineralisation.