With a provincial election weeks away, Peter Caulfield asked sources in three British Columbia regions to comment on the importance of mining for the Association for Mineral Exploration’s quarterly magazine, Mineral Exploration. In general terms, the responses differ from views commonly heard in cities geographically removed but hardly independent of resource economies and the commodities they produce. In that respect, the relevance of Caulfield’s article applies far beyond B.C. The article is posted here with the permission of AME.
Opinions vary by region when it comes to mineral exploration and mine development
by Peter Caulfield
In a province that is as large and diverse as British Columbia, it’s natural that opinions on most topics—including mineral exploration and development—will be diverse too.
What the average person in Oak Bay or Yaletown thinks about a new mine or pipeline will be very different from what’s going through the head of somebody who lives in the northwestern corner of British Columbia or in the Kootenays in southeastern B.C.
As the province’s May 9 election approaches, Mineral Exploration wanted to know what’s on the mind of voters who live in the parts of the province that are most dependent on resource development. We talked to three well-connected observers of local politics in four provincial constituencies: Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson, Stikine and Kootenay East. We asked each of them what the hot-button issues are in their respective constituencies and whether mineral exploration and mine development is important to their fellow voters.
The following interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.
Maria Ryder, District of Stewart councillor for 2.5 years, chief of the volunteer fire department and 25-year Stewart resident
The main projects in the Stewart region are Brucejack (Pretium Resources TSX:PVG), the Premier mine (Ascot Resources TSXV:AOT), Red Mountain (IDM Mining TSXV:IDM) and the Red Chris mine (Imperial Metals TSX:III).
Along with Terrace and Kitimat, Stewart is one of the largest communities in the district. We are growing in population, especially in the summer, when workers and their families descend on the town, drawn by mineral exploration and hydro projects and by Stewart’s two ports.
It’s very different here from urban British Columbia, and the people from down south who come up here to work find out just how different it is. And some of them discover how different some of our opinions and concerns are from theirs.
Because we get a lot of snow in the winter, much of the employment in Stewart is seasonal and the people who live here adjust their lives accordingly. Every year between March and November we’re busy, and between November and March things are pretty slow. But we’re used to it and we adjust.
The main election issue here is sustainable job creation through industrial development. We want jobs that stay and that provide stability to Stewart.
Lois Halko, District of Sparwood second-term councillor and former mayor, born and raised in Sparwood
The main economic drivers of the region are the mining of metallurgical coal, which is B.C.’s single biggest export, and the activities of the local suppliers to the coal industry.
There are five Teck [Teck Resources TSX:TECK.A and TSX:TECK.B] metallurgical coal mines in the region: Coal Mountain, Elkview, Fording River, Greenhills and Line Creek. In addition, there are four mining companies that are interested in developing mines in the Elk Valley area: CanAus Coal, Centermount Coal, NWP Coal Canada and Riversdale Resources.
The five Teck mines have a total of 3,600 full-time employees, of whom 2,400 live in four communities in the Elk Valley area.
Because it is used to make steel, and because steel is such an essential product in everyone’s life, metallurgical coal should be recognized as a critical resource. It’s certainly critical to the people who live in Sparwood.
Teck has earned its social licence to continue mining here. The public has accepted the company’s efforts to mitigate any of the effects of coal mining, such as contaminants leaching into the water supply. Teck has done a lot of work to reduce the problem.
At the same time, we know that we need to diversify our economy. It’s something the local municipalities talk about a lot. The Sparwood regional economy is one of the least diversified in the province, which has made us very vulnerable to a cycle of boom and bust. The region has lots more to offer than just coal deposits, and we’re trying to leverage our mountains and natural beauty to build a thriving tourist industry.
Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson
Ryan Scorgie, president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce
The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce and its 850 members take a great deal of interest in all kinds of resource development, including mineral development in Kamloops-North Thompson and Kamloops-South Thompson.
The main mineral projects in the area are the Ajax project (KGHM International), the New Afton mine (New Gold TSX:NGD) and Highland Valley Copper (Teck).
Opinions about resource development are mixed in Kamloops. Most of the working people here are for it, but many of the academics at Thompson Rivers University are against, so the Chamber of Commerce hears both sides of the argument. Our position is that if a project goes through the appropriate review process and passes it, then we support it.
In fact, the Chamber thinks process is so important that our Policy Development Committee developed a policy regarding resource development in 2016 called Supporting Canada’s Responsible Resource Development.
The policy statement is more important than its brevity might indicate, because it was adopted provincially just a few months after it was written.
The committee writes, in part: “The Chamber believes that it is critical that B.C. maintains its reputation as a jurisdiction open to investment. Achieving the investments needed to ensure Canada’s competitiveness will require an efficient regulatory review process that ensures continued health and environmental protection of Canadians while generating jobs, economic growth and prosperity.
“A streamlined process will encourage investment by providing businesses with a clear and predictable process to protect the environment while making the best use of limited government resources.
“Inefficient and unpredictable processes may turn away potential investors and prevent businesses from being able to make informed location and logistic decisions. For example, the World Economic Forum has cited inefficient government bureaucracy as one of the biggest impediments to improving Canada’s economic competitiveness.
“We need to make sure that the regulatory review process is efficient and has a clear scope, reasonable timelines and the flexibility to address unforeseen circumstances.”
Originally published in the spring 2017 edition of Mineral Exploration. Posted here with the permission of the Association for Mineral Exploration.
Many years ago, a remote and mountainous region in northwestern British Columbia gained considerable attention as an emerging mineral district. With a rich mining history, one of the world’s largest silver mines (Eskay Creek, discovered in 1988) and million-ounce gold deposits, this area of incredible wealth became known as the Golden Triangle.
However, despite its obvious potential, the vast majority of land in this highly prospective region has been left mostly untouched by humans. A combination of factors, including low gold prices and a lack of infrastructure, led to the area lying dormant for decades.
Today, things are changing dramatically. The Golden Triangle is a new hotbed for mineral discovery, where over 130 million ounces of gold, 800 million ounces of silver and 40 billion pounds of copper have been found. The amazing part is that this is only scratching the surface of the region’s ultimate potential.
The new gold rush
Why is the Golden Triangle at the centre of attention again? There are five main reasons:
1. New deposits found
The old adage is that the best place to find a new mine is near an existing one. Here are three major deposits in the Golden Triangle that have geologists and financiers buzzing:
Seabridge Gold’s (TSX:SEA) KSM project is the largest gold project in the world. In 2014 it received the green light from Canada’s federal government to go ahead. A porphyry-style deposit, it has reserves of 38.8 million ounces of gold, 10.2 billion pounds of copper and 183 million ounces of silver.
This $700-million copper and gold mine entered production in 2015. Owned by Imperial Metals TSX:III, it will be in production until 2043 based on current mine life estimates. In 2016 alone, it produced 83 million pounds of copper, 47,000 ounces of gold and 190,000 ounces of silver.
Valley of the Kings
The latest, and perhaps most interesting, discovery in the Golden Triangle is slotted to reach commercial production in 2017. The Valley of the Kings, unlike the above porphyry-style deposits, contains extremely high-grade gold. With 15.6 million tonnes grading 16.1 g/t gold, this deposit has some of the richest ore in the world.
2. New Infrastructure
In recent years, the Golden Triangle has received three massively important infrastructure upgrades:
3. Declining snow cover
Glacial ice and snow have been retreating in many parts of the region, revealing rocks never seen before by human eyes. Especially in a mineral-rich region such as the Golden Triangle, this is a very exciting prospect for mineral geologists.
4. A new geological explanation
The Golden Triangle region has complex geology that had befuddled explorers for decades—but recent work has made the picture much clearer. Geologist Jeff Kyba has put forth the following theory: Geological contact between Triassic-age Stuhini rocks and Jurassic-age Hazelton rocks is the key marker for copper-gold mineralization.
Most of the Triangle’s copper-gold deposits, whether they are large-scale porphyry and intrusion-related, are found within two kilometres of this contact. It’s been named the Red Line, and this new interpretation of the region’s geology could contribute to B.C.’s next mega deposit.
5. Gold price recovery
Since the “sleepy” days of the Golden Triangle, gold prices have increased three times, even after adjusting for inflation. Combined with new infrastructure, exciting projects and world-class mineral potential, the Golden Triangle is awake again.
What’s happening today?
Today, the Golden Triangle is buzzing with activity.
Many types of mineral deposits are being tested for, including high-grade gold veins, large-scale porphyries and VMS (volcanogenic massive sulphide) deposits. The Golden Triangle is once again a centre of attention and it could be poised to become one of the world’s most prolific concentrations of mineral wealth.
Posted with permission of Visual Capitalist.
by Greg Klein | April 5, 2017
As the company anticipates near-term underground test mining at its nearby Lexington project, a new acquisition expands Golden Dawn Minerals’ (TSXV:GOM) Amigo property and complements the contiguous Boundary Falls turf. Boundary Falls hosts the past-producing May Mac mine—along with Lexington, Golden Crown and the Greenwood mill, one of the focal points of the company’s plan to revive the historic southern British Columbia camp. Subject to approvals, the 487-hectare addition brings Amigo to 656 hectares, costing Golden Dawn 100,000 shares.
May Mac reportedly produced 4,228 tonnes averaging 5.35 g/t gold and 227 g/t silver between 1903 and 1983. The mine also produced lead, zinc and copper.
Since 2015 Golden Dawn has sunk 904 metres of surface drilling on Amigo, along with 6,155 metres of surface and underground work on May Mac’s Skomac vein system.
More assays are pending following a batch released early last month. Meanwhile the project undergoes permitting for surface drilling, underground drilling, drifting and bulk sampling. Should results for the three historic mines prove fortuitous, May Mac feed would complement that of the Lexington and Golden Crown past-producers. Processing would take place at Golden Dawn’s Greenwood mill, a 200-tpd facility expandable to 400-tpd located 15 kilometres east.
Last month the company released initial metallurgical test results for May Mac showing recoveries of 98% for gold and 97.7% for silver.
Last week Golden Dawn announced a “milestone” in receiving a dewatering permit for Lexington, which allows underground test mining to assess the project’s viability. Dewatering’s expected to begin in late April or early May.
The previous operator shut down Lexington and the Greenwood mill in December 2008 after eight months of operation, apparently because of the financial crisis, start-up problems and debt, Golden Dawn stated. Having bought the assets at a substantial discount, the company declares itself “optimistic that all or most of the start-up issues experienced by the former operator will be avoided.”
Golden Dawn doesn’t plan a feasibility study but has commissioned a technical report to consolidate four properties into one project. Over the last few months the company received US$4 million from RIVI Capital LLC as an advance payment for future gold production from Lexington and Golden Crown.
Proximal to Highway #3, the Greenwood portfolio sits about 500 kilometres east of Vancouver.
by Greg Klein | March 30, 2017
Among other plans announced March 30, Mountain Boy Minerals TSXV:MTB intends to conduct metallurgical studies for its Surprise Creek joint venture in northwestern British Columbia. Tests will evaluate one interval of drill core reported in February that shows barite, silver, copper and zinc. Barite is mainly used as an ingredient in drilling mud for oil and gas exploration.
Metallurgical results will guide further Surprise Creek exploration, expected to include surface sampling and drilling. Mountain Boy acts as operator on the 7,472-hectare property in a 50/50 JV with Great Bear Resources TSXV:GBR.
In southern B.C., Mountain Boy has begun discussions with the Lower Similkameen Indian Band prior to PEA studies on the Manuel Creek zeolite project acquired last December. With numerous agricultural uses for the commodity, this 1,062-hectare project holds the advantage of location in the Okanagan farming region.
Back in the province’s northwest, two companies have surface sampling and drilling planned this year for Red Cliff, held 35% by Mountain Boy and 65% by Decade Resources TSXV:DEC. Amid mountainous terrain, plans call for a drone and climbers to locate a 1988 drill collar to sample the zone and confirm previous results from the former gold-copper mine.
Underground drilling will test above and below the property’s 1,000 mine level, which has previously revealed several high-grade intercepts. Some examples include:
Additional drilling will help define the property’s Montrose zone. Even higher values have been found here:
Metallurgical studies will also take place.
From 1939 to 1941, mining at Montrose extracted 65 tons averaging 2.45 ounces per ton gold, 2.95 ounces per ton silver, 0.91% copper, 3.5% lead and 4.41% zinc.
Mountain Boy and Great Bear also share the nearby BA VMS project, from where they reported high-grade polymetallic samples in January.
Along with 80% partner Jayden Resources TSXV:JDN, Mountain Boy holds a 20% interest in another property in B.C.’s Golden Triangle, Silver Coin. Using a 0.3 g/t gold cutoff, the project’s 2011 resource shows a measured and indicated total of 842,416 ounces gold, 4.46 million ounces silver and 91.17 million pounds zinc. The inferred category comes to 813,273 ounces gold, 6.69 million ounces silver and 128 million pounds zinc.
Mountain Boy’s regional portfolio also includes the MB project, with historic, non-43-101 estimates for copper, lead, zinc, silver and barite. Grab samples from last year assayed as high as 31,192 g/t silver. The company additionally holds a 50% stake in the George property, which has historic, non-43-101 estimates for copper, silver and gold.
In mid-March the company closed a private placement totalling $231,619.
by Greg Klein | March 28, 2017
A Northwest Territories lithium project gets its first-ever metallurgical studies as 92 Resources TSXV:NTY announced a two-phase program on March 28. The 1,659-hectare Hidden Lake property underwent channel sampling last year on four of six known lithium-bearing spodumene dykes, with the best intercept showing:
The met program’s first phase examines the property’s spodumene and waste materials, leading to a mineral processing phase intended to separate the two and produce a high-grade concentrate.
Material from four pegmatites will be evaluated separately and, if no significant differences are found, a single composite will undergo processing tests. Those tests would include grinding, heavy liquid separation, magnetic separation and flotation. Plans then call for a preliminary flowsheet and a small amount of potentially marketable spodumene concentrate.
The program will also evaluate potential tantalum recovery.
Hidden Lake has all-weather road access to Yellowknife, 45 kilometres southwest. Carrying out the tests will be SGS Canada, which has considerable experience in spodumene pegmatite processing, 92 Resources stated.
In northern Quebec, 92 Resources has initial lithium exploration planned for Pontax, a 5,536-hectare property in a district known for spodumene-bearing pegmatites as well as gold potential.
Earlier this month the company expanded its Golden frac sand project from 807 hectares to 3,211 hectares. The southeastern British Columbia property sits adjacent to the Moberly silica sand project, now being redeveloped into a frac sand operation and among the assets sought by Northern Silica in its takeover bid for Heemskirk Consolidated.
Late last month 92 Resources closed an oversubscribed private placement of $895,199.
by Greg Klein | March 27, 2017, updated March 28, 2017
A 100-kilogram Maple Leaf gold coin seems destined for meltdown following a daring heist at Berlin’s Bode Museum. With a face value of $1 million but worth over four times that amount at today’s prices, it’s one of five identical coins produced by the Royal Canadian Mint.
Thieves entered the building between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m. March 27, according to a museum statement.
“We are shocked that the burglars overcame our security systems, which have been successfully protecting our objects for many years,” said Michael Eissenhauer, director general for the State Museums of Berlin. “We hope that the perpetrators will be caught and the precious coin will be returned undamaged.”
The museum requested tips from anyone who’s been offered deals on large volumes of gold.
Due to superior security or less brazen bandits, other million-dollar Maple Leafs have survived Canadian museums. Victoria’s Royal B.C. Museum hosted the numismatic oddity in 2015 at the Gold Rush! El Dorado in British Columbia exhibit, before the show’s artefacts went to Gatineau’s Canadian Museum of History last spring.
That Maple Leaf belongs to its creator, the Royal Canadian Mint. “We don’t know who owns the coin stolen in Berlin but we can confirm that it’s not the Mint’s,” Alex Reeves of RCM external communications informed ResourceClips.com. “Our own coin is safe and sound in our Ottawa vaults.” The Mint doesn’t reveal the other owners’ names, Reeves added.
Making no secret of its ownership, Barrick Gold TSX:ABX displays its Maple Leaf in the company’s section of the Teck Suite of Galleries at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. A ROM spokesperson declined to discuss security arrangements.
The Ottawa mint has itself been victim of a heist, although not a caper likely to inspire admiration. Last month former employee Leston Lawrence was sentenced to 30 months and ordered to repay $190,000 or serve an additional 30 months. The court heard he snuck something like 22 gold “pucks,” weighing around 7.4 ounces each, out of his workplace and into the hands of buyers.
Among the evidence was a tube of Vaseline found in his locker. He smuggled the contraband in his rectum.
by Greg Klein | March 15, 2017
Initial metallurgical results support Golden Dawn Minerals’ (TSXV:GOM) plan to put a southeastern British Columbia mine and mill back into production. A 16-kilogram composite sample from the May Mac mine underwent gravity and flotation at the company’s Greenwood mill, 15 kilometres away, with 98% recovery for gold and 97.7% for silver. Preliminary results suggest no major modifications to the mill would be necessary to process May Mac feed.
The past producer comprises one of several former mines proximal to the mill that Golden Dawn endeavours to re-open.
“Flotation cleaning will now be tested in order to make a higher-grade concentrate for sale,” the company stated. “Optionally, cyanide leaching results after 48 hours’ retention indicate approximately half the silver was recovered, and with a gold recovery of 90%.”
Meanwhile underground drilling continues at May Mac, with surface drilling planned for next month. The company has permitting underway to extend the mine’s #7 level for a bulk sample of up to 10,000 tonnes for processing at the Greenwood mill. Plans also call for a maiden resource this year. Earlier this month the company released the last of 19 holes from last winter’s program.
With a de-watering permit now in process for the nearby Lexington project, Golden Dawn hopes to begin trial mining in Q3 or Q4. The past producer has 96,300 gold-equivalent ounces measured and indicated, along with 2,300 ounces inferred at a 3.5 g/t gold-equivalent cutoff.
Included in the 2017 agenda is surface drilling at Golden Crown, which currently hosts 62,500 gold-equivalent ounces indicated and 13,100 ounces inferred, also using a 3.5 g/t gold-equivalent cutoff.
Golden Dawn has a modest program of geophysics in store for the KRR property, an 11,000-hectare package of 29 historic mines and 40 significant showings. The company announced a 43-101 on the recent acquisition in January.
With a final tranche of US$1 million now in hand, the company has collected the full US$4-million advance from a gold purchase agreement with RIVI Capital LLC.
Golden Dawn’s Greenwood camp portfolio lies about 500 kilometres east of Vancouver.
by Greg Klein | March 13, 2017
A 2,404-hectare addition to 92 Resources’ (TSXV:NTY) Golden frac sand property brings the total to 3,211 hectares next to a silica sand mine in southeastern British Columbia.
“A domestic or western Canadian frac sand deposit with suitable quality would benefit from more advantageous transportation and exchange rate costs over foreign competitors,” said 92 Resources president/CEO Adrian Lamoureux. “We believe these to be important factors in the recent takeover of the neighbouring Moberly silica sand mine.”
Next door to the Golden property, Heemskirk Canada’s Moberly project produced silica sand for high-quality glass manufacture for over 30 years. It’s now being redeveloped as a frac sand production and processing operation. Meanwhile Heemskirk’s parent company, Heemskirk Consolidated, is subject to a takeover bid by Northern Silica, a subsidiary of Taurus Resources No. 2 BC, that’s expected to close next month.
Golden’s expansion gives the property over 18 kilometres of strike along the Mount Wilson formation, which consists of high-purity, white quartzite, 92 Resources stated. With only initial prospecting, sampling and testing done so far, results from the most recent program in 2014 show silica content grading 98.3% to 99% SiO2. In two of four samples, over 65% of material fell in the 40- to 170-mesh range. “The two adequate size fraction samples passed 6,000 PSI compressibility testing, each producing 8.1% fines,” the company added.
92 Resources has mapping, sampling and drilling now in the planning stages for Golden.
Besides a product used in oil and gas exploration, 92 Resources pursues a clean energy commodity at two lithium properties. In January the company filed a 43-101 for its Hidden Lake project in the Northwest Territories, which hosts at least six lithium-bearing spodumene dykes. Channel samples on four of them averaged 1.03% Li2O, with one hitting a peak of 3.31%. Ground magnetics, along with liquid separation and flotation tests, have been recommended for the project.
The 1,659-hectare property has all-weather access to Yellowknife, 45 kilometres southwest.
92 Resources also anticipates initial exploration this year on its 5,536-hectare Pontax property in Quebec’s James Bay region.
Last month the company closed an oversubscribed private placement of $895,199.
by Greg Klein | March 10, 2017
The exploration industry had a good week for government incentives from Ottawa, the Northwest Territories and, going back a bit farther, British Columbia. Federal Minister of Natural Resources Jim Carr helped kick off PDAC by announcing a one-year renewal of the 15% mineral exploration tax credit, along with his government’s maintenance of the flow-through credit. The announcement incorporates key PDAC submissions for the federal budget, expected to be delivered later this month.
Citing estimates from Finance Canada, the Association for Mineral Exploration said the flow-through credit stimulates $3 in exploration for every $1 in tax saving.
On March 3 the NWT announced an increase in the territory’s mining incentive program from $400,000 to $1 million. Last year five companies received grants for six projects ranging from $34,575 to $85,000. Five prospectors got amounts ranging from $11,952 to $15,000.
The NWT also extended its work credit program for another two years and boosted the incentive by making it easier to keep claims active. Exploration spending will now be assessed at one and a half times its value.
NWT and Nunavut Chamber of Mines president Gary Vivian called the budget adjustments “the right action to help the NWT grow the lower-than-expected exploration investment recently projected by Natural Resources Canada.” The federal agency predicts a 3% spending reduction on the territory’s exploration and deposit appraisals, to $64.4 million this year.
“Furthermore, the GNWT’s actions are well aligned with the NWT Minerals Development Strategy, which is critical for the sustainability of the minerals industry in the north and the valuable socio-economic activity this industry brings to the governments and people of the NWT,” Vivian added.
A week earlier, B.C. tabled a budget confirming Premier Christy Clark’s announcement at AME’s Roundup conference in January. The province extended its flow-through credit to the end of the year and expanded eligibility for the mining exploration tax credit to include costs of environmental studies and community consultations. Further encouragement came from a two-year, $10-million grant to Geoscience BC.
Additionally, the province’s Ministry of Energy and Mines gets an extra $18 million over three years to help support permitting, compliance and enforcement.
The industry’s buoyant mood, noticed in the latter part of 2016 and evident at VRIC 2017, Roundup and PDAC, follows a particularly bad year for B.C. According to a report from the provincial ministry, AME and EY, exploration spending in the province declined through four consecutive years, dropping last year to $205 million from exploration companies and $1.8 million from prospectors. That represented a 25% decline over 2015 and the lowest level since 2009.
(Natural Resources Canada reports a 2016 B.C. low of $220.4 million.)
Released March 7, the British Columbia Mineral and Coal Exploration Survey 2016 said the province had come to the end of a 10- to 15-year mine development cycle, returning to a cycle focusing on grassroots and early-stage exploration.
“Notwithstanding the current downturn, the industry remained an important source of jobs and was, and continues to be, an economic contributor to communities throughout the province,” the report stated.
Natural Resources Canada forecasts about $237.5 million being spent on B.C. exploration and deposit appraisals in 2017, more than 7.7% above the agency’s 2016 total. For the country overall, NRC predicts an 18% increase this year, to $1.844 billion.