The state of British Columbia’s mineral exploration industry has yet to show signs of recovery.
According to the British Columbia Geological Survey, exploration expenditures in the province declined by 25% between 1997 and 1996. The number of projects with budgets in excess of $100,000 stood at 130, or 38% fewer than last year.
The following is a brief summary of projects under way in the province.
* Taseko Mines (TKO-V) completed bulk-sample metallurgical tests at the Prosperity porphyry gold-copper project in the southwest. All of the pilot plant results compare favorably with the prefeasibility results. A 50,000-kg test process averaged recoveries of 90% for copper and 75.6% for gold.
The minable reserve estimate for the deposit weighs in at 675 million tonnes grading 0.24% copper and 0.44 gram gold per tonne. The milling rate is projected at 90,000 tonnes per day; the mine life at 21 years; and capital costs at US$430 million.
* American Bullion Minerals’ (ABP-T) Red Chris copper-gold project in the northwest contains a resource of 550 million tonnes grading 0.32% copper and 0.25 gram gold, based on 244 drill holes and a cutoff grade of 0.2% copper.
Because of low metal prices, the company has decided to mine selectively the higher-grade core, which is estimated to contain 210 million tonnes of 0.46% copper and 0.38 gram gold. Daily throughput is projected at 30,000 tonnes over a 20-year mine life.
* International Skyline Gold (ISC-T) estimates a resource of 76 million tonnes grading 0.16% copper, 0.44 gram gold, 2.75 grams silver and 0.007% molybdenum at its Bronson Slope polymetallic porphyry property in the northwest. The company plans to initiate a high-grade starter pit with a low stripping ratio. Reserves in the pit area are estimated at 22 million tonnes of 0.21% copper, 0.5 gram gold, 2.9 gram silver and 0.005% moly. Plans call for a 15,000-tonne-per-day mill, with capital costs pegged at $150 million.
* Last spring, Teck (TEK-T) drill-tested the Rainbow No. 2 porphyry copper deposit in south-central B.C. The project is under option from Getchell Resources (GHS-V). Teck has estimated a geological reserve of 15.9 million tonnes grading 0.52% copper plus possible gold and moly credits. The calculation is based on 104 diamond drill holes and uses a 0.25% copper cutoff. Poor grades near the surface create a high stripping ratio, and Teck has concluded that even though grades at depth are respectable, the deposit will not support underground mining. Consequently, no further work is planned.
* Getty Copper (GTY-V) completed a 36,351-metre drill program last year on its Getty North porphyry deposit, southwest of Kamloops. The deposit has been drilled off at 30-metre intervals, and the company estimates a resource of 66.3 million tonnes grading 0.31% copper. Metallurgical tests indicate that leaching recovers between 62% and 65% copper from the sulphide resource. Subject to a positive feasibility study, Getty Copper will consider a heap-leach, solvent extraction-electrowinning operation to process both the oxide and sulphide material.
On the adjacent Getty South breccia-hosted deposit, the company performed limited drilling and bedrock trenching. A preliminary resource estimate suggests 36 million tonnes grading 0.47% copper.
Meanwile, on the Getty West prospect, optioned to Globe Resources (gbs-v), a copper-moly porphyry system has been identified through a limited 3,374-metre drill program.
* Booker Gold Explorations (BGE-V) continues to drill its Hearne Hill porphyry copper-gold breccia property, near Smithers.
The company has also performed ground and airborne geophysical programs, as well geochemical sampling and trenching. A resource estimate is being prepared.
* Situated 1.5 km northwest of Hearne Hill is Noranda’s (NOR-T) Morrison deposit, which is estimated to contain 190 million tonnes of 0.4% copper and 0.2 gram gold. In late October 1997, Booker signed an option agreement with Noranda to explore jointly both properties.
* Spokane Resources (SKN-V) conducted a 2,600-metre drill program on its Mac molybdenum deposit in the province’s central region. The company hired Fluor Daniel Wright to preform a preliminary economic study.
* Imperial Metals (IPM-T) preformed no fieldwork last year on its Giant copper-gold porphyry deposit near Hope. Instead, the company filed an application for a 10,000-tonne bulk sample to be processed at the Mount Polly mill. The company has estimated that the AM zone contains an open-pit resource of 29.5 million tonnes grading 0.65% copper, 0.4 gram gold and 1.2 grams silver. A feasibility study is investigating the possibility of a 6-year, 1,800-tonne-per-day open pit and underground operation; milling would be carried out at the nearby Similco operation.
Imperial Metals also conducted a $2-million program of surface exploration, which included 8,000 metres of drilling on its Silvertip silver-lead-zinc manto and chimney deposit, 80 km west of Watson Lake. Previous estimates suggest a resource of 1.4 million tonnes grading 317 grams silver, 5.8% lead and 8.3% zinc. Reserves are being calculated, and the company has applied for a 10,000-tonne bulk-sample permit.
* Weymin Mining (WEY-V) drilled three holes totaling 503 metres on its J&L (McKinnon Creek) massive sulphide deposit near Revelstoke. The holes were designed to expand both the Yellowjacket and the Main zones. The former contains about 1 million tonnes grading 7.1% zinc, 2.5% lead and 52.5 grams silver and is believed to be a stratabound, carbonate-hosted, zinc-lead deposit; the latter zone contains an estimated 3.6 million tonnes of 3.9% zinc, 3% lead, 81 grams silver and 7.24 grams gold, and has been extended to the northwest by about 300 metres. Surface and underground exploration are planned for the current year.
* Bren-Mar Resources (BML-V) completed a 9-hole drill program on its Turagain nickel-cobalt-copper deposit east of Dease Lake. The company has initiated metallurgical testing, flotation and leaching studies.
* Misty Mountain Gold’s (MGL-T) Specogna gold deposit forms part of the 440-sq.-km Harmony Gold property on the Queen Charlotte Islands. According to an independent estimate, the Specogna contains a reserve of 52.7 million tonnes grading 1.7 grams gold based on 538 holes and a cutoff of 1.2 grams.
Milling throughput is forecast 7,500 tonnes per day over a 20-year mine life. Misty Mountain is testing a program of bio-oxidation pretreatment of crushed ore, in combination with heap leaching.
* In 1997, Canarc Resource (CCM-T) completed underground exploration and development on its New Polaris project in the Tulsequah area. Reserve estimates were boosted to 3.9 million tons grading 0.41 oz. gold, or 1.6 million contained ounces.
* International Jaguar Equities (JAG-V) has completed a bulk-sampling program at the Pellaire gold deposit in the Taseko Lakes area of southwestern B.C. Mapping, trenching and sampling were carried out over the gold-silver vein system. A 2,500-metre drill program is planned.
* International Wayside Gold Mines (IWA-V) conducted a surface and underground exploration program on its Cariboo Gold Quartz property in the Wells-Barkerville area. By December 1997, the company had drilled 193 holes.
International Wayside purchased the remaining half of the Cariboo Gold Quartz mine, the Island Mountain mine and the Mosquito Creek gold mine, and formed the Cariboo Gold project. A preliminary resource estimate of the Cariboo Gold Quartz mine calculated by the company indicated a resource of 3.1 million tonnes grading 3.5 grams gold, based on a cutoff grade of 1 gram gold above the mine’s 1,200-level.
* Big Valley Resources (BV-A) conducted diamond drilling on the Lloyd-Nordic copper-gold Porphyry property, 1.5 km north of the Mount Polley mine. In 1996, the company reported a preliminary reserve estimate, for the Lloyd 2 zone, of 7.2 million tonnes grading 0.31% copper and 0.24 gram gold.
* In the southern part of the Highland Valley, in south-central B.C., Alhambra Resources (ALH-A) completed 4,570 metres of drilling at its Dot porphy
ry copper property.
* Stealth Mining (SAL-A) increased the resource estimate of its Pine porphyry copper-gold property to 70 million tonnes grading 0.31% copper and 2.4 grams gold. The property is 8 km north of Royal Oak’s Kemess mine.
* Lysander Gold (LYS-V) continued drilling the Bishop zone at the Lorraine copper-gold-silver porphyry project in the province’s central region.
Further drilling is required before reserves can be calculated. Lysander can acquire several properties in a structure termed the Jajay Ring. Soil and talus sampling, as well as data compilation and evaluation, are in progress.
* AGC Americas Gold (AGA-V) and partner Antares Mining & Exploration (ANZ-T) conducted surface exploration programs on their jointly held A1 and JD epithermal gold properties, 65 km north of the Kemess mine in north-central B.C. About 10,630 metres of drilling in 75 holes were completed, and airborne and ground geophysical surveys were performed over both properties.
A program of metallurgical testing and engineering studies is planned for 1998, as is further drilling in the Creek zone.
* In the Lillooet area, just east of the Bralorne gold camp, Homestake Canada, a wholly owned subsidiary of Homestake Mining (HM-N), drilled the Ample-Goldmax mesothermal gold vein target. Infill drilling was completed on the Cougar zone.
* Stirrup Creek Gold (SGU-V) completed trenching and drilling on Zone V of its Watson Bar sediment-hosted gold target. The zone has a strike length of 80 metres and a width of 3 metres. Downdip, the zone extends for about 400 metres. The company estimates a resource of 282,187 tonnes grading 8.13 grams gold based on a cutoff of 1.7 grams gold.
* First Choice Industries (FSD-V) drilled 20 holes on its Knob Hill prospect west of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. The program failed to establish a discrete gold zone in the Obling Creek area. First Choice has acquired additional ground south of the Obling Creek zone.
* Madrona Mining (MRA-A) drilled four holes at the Nizi epithermal gold prospect, 80 km east of Dease Lake. In the Discovery vein area, the company identified a zone of mineralization that measures 100 by 225 metres and extends to a depth of 125 metres.
* At the Corey property, 15 km south of the Eskay Creek gold-silver mine, Homestake Canada, under an option agreement with Kenrich Mining (KRC-V), carried out mapping on the southwestern part of the PRU block. Kenrich performed mapping and prospecting on the HSOV, Mandy Creek, Nica-1, Sheelagh Creek, TM and GFJ occurrences.
* Kennecott Canada Exploration, a wholly owned subsidiary of RTZ, under an option agreement with Sedex Mining (SDN-V), drilled four deep holes in the Panda vent system of the Irishman prospect. The deposit is in the Purcell Basin of southeastern B.C.
* At the Greenland Creek prospect, Miner River Resources (MRG-A) and Eagle Plains Resources (EPL-A) drilled about 610 metres on a sed-ex target. A stratabound sulphide breccia with rounded quartz fragments in a massive pyrrhotite matrix was intersected.
* Mount Hope Resources (MH-A) continued drilling its Quet gold prospect, northwest of Harrison Lake. The program tested the downdip extension of gold, silver and base metal mineralization associated with quartz vein stockworks.
* Teck, under an option agreement with Alpha Gold (ALG-V), drilled 16 holes, or 3,063 metres, into the Lustdust manto prospect. The property, 150 km northwest of Fort St. James, hosts gold, silver, lead, zinc and copper mineralization.
Teck is also involved in the exploration of the Eholt copper-gold skarn target, in the south-central camp known as Greenwood. Trenching has indicated that the Dead Honda zone trends in an east-west direction, rather than north-south.
* Nu-Lite Industries (NLE-V) has completed a first phase of drilling on the Keystone gold property, 50 km northwest of Dease Lake. Four holes were drilled in an attempt to test the original Keystone showing, discovered in 1931. Two of the holes confirmed previous results of 0.25 oz. per ton over 25 ft. The second phase is expected to total 10,000 ft.