From left to right: John McCoach (president of the TSX.V); Gavin Dirom (president & CEO of AME BC); Matt Ball (COO of Bralorne, holding gold bar); Bill Kocken (president & CEO of Bralorne); David Wolfin (director and vice-president of financing); Bill Glasier and Gary Robertson (directors of Bralorne) | Courtesy of Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd.
After a 40-year hiatus, the underground Bralorne Mine, the only pure-play gold mine in British Columbia, re-opened this year with the first gold pour in
May. The commissioning of the mine by Bralorne Gold Mines Ltd. is the beginning of its re-development of a trio of past-producers that also includes the
Pioneer and King mines and the exploration of the area separating them. The three mines occupy 2,500 hectares of property, with gaps of approximately four
kilometres between each mine. They represent the largest historic gold producers in the Canadian Cordillera.
Between 1928 and 1971, the three operations, located about 250 kilometres north of Vancouver, produced 4.15 million ounces of gold from 7.9 million tons of
ore. It was the value, not the quantity, of gold that shut the mines in 1971 when the price of the metal was just US$35 an ounce.
Currently, Bralorne will process 100 tonnes per day of ore at a refurbished mill nearby. Expansion of the mill is underway with a target of increasing to
250 tonnes per day by the end of 2013.
The mine is expected to produce approximately 11,000 ounces gold with an approximate net value of $9.2 million in its first year of operation, based on a
gold price of US$1,300. In addition to more than 50 direct jobs, the mine is expected to provide small business opportunities and service positions.
New mining operations in British Columbia are a rarity, and their absence has been major concern for the province’s mining industry. Gavin Dirom, president
and CEO of the Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia, said Bralorne may be a small mine, but is significant for what it represents to the
province. “There are other deposits in BC that are not mined out, and the re-opening of the mine will encourage other companies to re-visit historic
mines,” he said.
Tom Schroeter, president and CEO of Vancouver-based Fjordland Exploration Inc., and former senior regional geologist with the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines
and Petroleum Resources, said the re-opening of Bralorne is another positive sign of the resurgence of mining in BC. “And it is part of the ongoing
momentum of developing and opening mines in the province,” he said.
Bralorne vice-president of finance David Wolfin said his father, Lou Wolfin, Vancouver stock broker and company founder, began assembling claims in the
area in the 1960s in order to put together a comprehensive land package. Wolfin’s big break came in 1992, when International Corona Resources Ltd. (owned
by legendary mine promoter Murray Pezim) shifted its attention from Bralorne to the Eskay Creek property in northern BC and sold Wolfin the Bralorne
property. He acquired full ownership in 2002.