British Columbia solid mineral production is forecast
at $6 billion – dominated by coal (40 per cent)
and copper (25 per cent). Mineral tenure acquisition
increased from the record
level of 2005 and drilling rose
significantly to over 660,000
metres (260 projects).
Exploration expenditures for
about 650 projects are forecast
in excess of $220 million.
Mining is an important economic driver with
eight metal, 11 coal, and 32 major industrial minerals
mines. In 2006, the Trend and Wolverine (Perry Creek)
coal mines, located in the northeast, started production.
The MAX (molybdenum) and Table Mountain
(gold) mine development projects are planning to
open early in 2007. There are mine proposals from
more than 20 other projects. In addition, some companies
have announced mine life extensions (e.g.
Huckleberry, Gibraltar, and Highland Valley Copper).
British Columbia is experiencing a significant development
The Peace River coalfield in the northeast continued
its remarkable resurgence in exploration and
development. Over a dozen significant drilling programs
were completed, including a major resource
definition program on the South Ridge property by
Anglo Coal. In the Elk Valley, in the southeast, significant
coal exploration programs were carried out near
mine sites (e.g. Castle and Bear mountains at Fording
River, and Mt. Michael at Line Creek). A feasibility
study was completed on the Lodgepole coal project.
The two largest exploration programs in British
Columbia were at the Galore Creek and New Afton
porphyry copper-gold projects in the northwest and
south-central regions, respectively. Porphyries have
traditionally been important exploration and development
targets in British Columbia. Also, after a hiatus
of over 25 years, exploration for and development
of porphyry molybdenum deposits (e.g. Davidson,
Highmont, Ajax, Ruby Creek, Lucky Ship, and Storie)
has seen a significant resurgence.
In the Atlin region, the Ruby Creek molybdenum
project is seeking an environmental certificate in early
2007. Large drilling programs were completed on the
Tulsequah Chief massive sulphide and New Polaris
auriferous vein properties. A bulk sampling program
was initiated on the Yellowjacket gold project. A production
decision is pending for the Red Chris coppergold
project. Step-out drilling focused on a westerly
extension of known mineralization. A preliminary
agreement was being negotiated with an Asian
smelter company. West of Red Chris, the Donnelly
North zone was discovered on the Kinaskan (GJ) porphyry
copper-gold project. East of Dease Lake, in-fill
drilling at Kutcho Creek increased resources; a pre-feasibility
study is expected by year’s end. Additional
resources were identified at the Turnagain bulk-tonnage
nickel project.At Galore Creek, a feasibility study
was completed in October 2006; the resource base
was expanded. The project is on target to receive
provincial and federal government permits in the second
quarter of 2007 to develop a 65,000-tonne-perday
milling operation. The reserve estimate is 540.7
million tonnes grading 0.557% Cu, 0.303 g/t Au and
5.32 g/t Ag; additional resources total 1.2 billion
tonnes.A pre-feasibility study and initiation of the permitting
process were conducted at Schaft Creek.
In the Stewart region, drilling programs were
completed: Kerr-Sulphurets (gold-copper-molybdenum),
Snowfields (gold-molybdenum), Ajax (molybdenum),
Homestake Ridge (gold-copper) and
Summit Lake (gold). At Mount Klappan coal, environmental
baseline and access corridor studies were
completed. In the northeast, exploration in the
Gataga Sedex belt was completed on the Akie and
Pie zinc-lead-silver projects.
In the Toodoggone,new mineralization was discovered
at the eastern end of the Kemess North goldcopper
deposit. Epithermal gold-silver and porphyry
copper-gold targets were drilled on the Pil property.
The Shasta epithermal gold-silver deposit was prepared
to commence mining and milling. A propertywide
re-evaluation of the Lorraine-Jajay and Misty porphyry
copper-gold projects was conducted. A revised
feasibility study is nearing completion on the Mt.
Milligan porphyry copper-gold deposit, north of Fort
St. James. To the west, porphyry-related gold mineralization
was targeted on the Fran property. In the
Babine camp, a feasibility study is in progress on the
Morrison porphyry copper-gold deposit. Near
Smithers, the company developing the Davidson porphyry
molybdenum project purchased the Endako
mine; a feasibility study for Davidson is expected by
late 2007. Drilling on the Lucky Ship molybdenum
property, south of Smithers, increased resources.South
of Vanderhoof, exploration targeted epithermal goldsilver
prospects (e.g. 3Ts and Blackwater-Davidson).
In central British Columbia, drilling evaluated several
high-grade, mesothermal vein and/or replacement
style prospects (e.g. Bonanza Ledge, Grouse
Creek,and Westport). Drilling on the Spanish Mountain
sediment-hosted gold target yielded very encouraging
results. Drilling at Mount Polley identified additional
resources. New copper-gold mineralization was
discovered in the Aurizon Zone at Lac La Hache.
In the Kamloops region,underground exploration
and development was carried out at the New Afton
copper-gold project, for a feasibility study expected
in late 2006. Drilling on the adjacent Afton (Ajax)
deposits identified additional resources. Detailed
drilling on the former Elk gold-silver mine was completed,
to aid in the evaluation for the potential for
open pit mining of the Siwash and WD vein systems.
Near Little Fort, a large drilling program tested
molybdenum-tungsten mineralization on the Crazy
Fox property. Near Clearwater, drilling tested the
Upper Fir tantalum-niobium property; a bulk sample
is planned. Newly discovered epithermal gold-silver
targets were explored in the Merritt-Spences Bridge
area (e.g. Skoonka Creek, Prospect Valley, and Merit).
The Prosperity porphyry copper-gold project, southwest
of Williams Lake, has re-entered the environmental
assessment review process and is being
advanced by continued consultation and baseline
studies. The Panorama Ridge gold skarn property,
near Hedley, was drill tested. The Highland Valley
Copper copper-molybdenum mine is examining the
profitability of building a hydrometallurgical smelter
on site. A large drilling program tested mesothermal
auriferous quartz veins at the historic Bralorne mine.
In the southeast, stratiform base-metal sulphide
occurrences received considerable exploration, highlighted
by significant programs at Ruddock Creek,Big
Bend (Goldstream and Rain), Harper Creek, and LJ.
Major molybdenum exploration programs were carried
out at Jersey-Emerald and Sphinx, southeast of
Salmo and Crawford Bay, respectively.Near Kimberley,
a third deep drillhole in the Sullivan Deeps program
was started in October 2006 in the search for another
Sullivan-type deposit. Vein-type silver-lead-zinc targets
were drill tested on the St. Eugene and other
properties, south of Cranbrook. In the Rossland area, a
major drilling program was completed at the
On Vancouver Island, extensive exploration was
completed at Myra Falls. Near Comox, the Raven coal
project was active. Near Port Alberni, a large drilling
program was completed at Mineral Creek (gold);
planning is in progress to collar a portal for bulk sampling
of the Lower Linda vein.
Southeast of Hope, a deep drillhole tested the AM
breccia pipe at Giant Copper. Several industrial minerals
and aggregate exploration programs were carried
out in the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island.
The BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum
Resources carried out a productive and highly successful
geoscience program during the year. Results
are available through the Ministry website
(www.em.gov.bc.ca) and through the highly acclaimed
interactive map system at www.MapPlace.ca. Ministry
mapping programs were conducted in the Canim
Lake, Greenwood, Eskay Creek (Bowser Basin rim),
Northern Vancouver Island,Terrace,and Spences Bridge
areas.Work was also carried out on porphyry copper
deposits, coal, and industrial minerals. Digital access to
the historic database was enhanced.