Dec '06/Jan '07

British Columbia

Mining, development and exploration review

By Tom Schroeter, senior regional geologist, BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources

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 period.

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 Midnight mine.

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 ( and through the highly acclaimed interactive map system at 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.

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