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Geoscience B.C. gets $5-million grant, plans “new generation” of airborne mag

by Greg Klein | May 18, 2016

A non-profit organization that puts geophysical results in the public domain, Geoscience B.C. announced another $5 million in provincial funding on May 18. The group now plans its largest airborne magnetic survey ever, with the Search Phase II project on a 24,000-square-kilometre grid over west-central British Columbia.

Geoscience B.C. gets $5-million grant, plans “new generation” of airborne mag

The region hosts the former Bell-Granisle porphyry copper-gold mines and one of North America’s largest molybdenum mines, Thompson Creek Metals’ (TSX:TCM) majority-held Endako, now on care and maintenance. Just outside the survey area sits Imperial Metals’ (TSX:III) 50%-held Huckleberry operation and New Gold’s (TSX:NGD) proposed Blackwater gold-silver open pit.

Calling the project “a new generation of airborne magnetic survey,” Geoscience B.C. VP of minerals and mining Bruce Madu said, “The line spacing we will fly will be much tighter than in previous surveys of this scale, providing a data resolution that is much more detailed and accurate.

“The Search Phase II survey is a key piece of the puzzle that will bridge the gap between the Search Phase I geophysical survey completed last year and the TREK survey in 2013,” he added. “Together, these three adjoining projects will provide a continuous modern survey of high-quality magnetic data covering a 55,500-square-kilometre area—equivalent to the size of Nova Scotia.”

Results will be posted next year on the organization’s data release page and its Earth Science viewer. Beneficiaries will include not only the mineral exploration industry but also local communities and land use planners.

“Usually only the largest companies have access to this kind of data,” said Rob Maurer of the Smithers Exploration Group, which supports mineral exploration and mining in the province’s northwest. “But in B.C., the innovative work conducted by Geoscience B.C. puts tools in the hands of any individual who wants to go out and prospect for minerals.”

B.C. Minister of Natural Gas Development Rich Coleman credited the organization with helping strengthen his sector’s regulation. “They have done outstanding work identifying deeper saline aquifers appropriate for industry use, which goes a long way towards better protecting ground- and surface-water needed to sustain First Nations and other communities in northeast B.C.”

The organization released its previous airborne mag findings in January. Last month it announced results from an innovative program of helicopter-borne tree-top geochemical sampling.

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