Preliminary reports from regional geologists deployed across British Columbia by the Ministry of Energy and Mines indicate that exploration continued to slow in 2015. The trend started with a decrease in small and early-stage projects in 2011 and was followed by a slowdown in larger, more advanced projects by 2013. Nonetheless, explorers continued to define or expand porphyry and porphyry-related copper gold and copper-molybdenum deposits; gold deposits of various types; and deposits of stratiform base metals, specialty metals, industrial minerals and coal.
![Selected exploration projects and mines, 2015. NOTE: “Mine, Operating” includes operations with production in 2015; “Mine, Care]() and Maintenance” entered that status within the past three years; “Mine, Development” underwent construction activity during the year; and “Mine, proposed” includes projects active in the mine-permitting or environmental assessment processes.
Banks Island Gold Ltd. produced gold-silver concentrate from its Yellow Giant project until July, when the mine was shut down. Underground mining occurred at the Tel, Bob and Discovery deposits, Metal Mountainand ore was processed on site using a dense-media separation plant and grinding and flotation circuits. An amendment to the company’s Mines Act permit is required before activities can resume.
Pretium Resources Inc. received an initial tranche of $540 million to finance construction of its high-grade gold Brucejack project and is on schedule to achieve production by 2017. Site construction, underground development and the balance of 40,000 metres of infill drilling will continue into 2016. Surface exploration drilling at nearby prospects returned high-grade gold values, including 0.5 metres grading 8,600 grams per tonne gold over one kilometre laterally from the Valley of the Kings zone, where Pretium has outlined a gold reserve and resource.
Metal Mountain Resources Inc. and its subsidiary Gavin Mines Inc. partnered with Grace Mining Inc. to keep the Dome Mountain gold mine project financed and poised for construction upon receipt of an amended Mines Act permit, expected before 2016. A winter drill program targeted extensions of the Boulder, Footwall and Argillite veins.
Ascot Resources Ltd. started investigating selective high-grade gold bulk sampling at the past-producing Premier mine. Drill results returned several intercepts grading between 250 and 1,000 grams per tonne gold over 0.9 to 1.0 metres. One intercept returned 14,394.5 grams per tonne over 0.75 metres.
Approximately 17,500 metres of drilling at Skeena Resources Limited’s Spectrum project was designed to define a near-surface, high-grade gold resource. Skeena also acquired the GJ copper-gold prospect from Teck Resources Limited and NGEx Resources Inc.
Porphyry (Copper-Gold, Coppermolybdenum and Molybdenum) Projects
The first copper-gold-bearing concentrate from Imperial Metals Corporation’s Red Chris mine was shipped to Asia in April. Mining progressed at the Main-zone and East-zone pits, and included zones of higher copper and gold grades than anticipated. Commercial production was achieved on July 1, as mill throughput surpassed 30,000 tonnes per day. Optimization of milling and processing procedures is ongoing.
Production continued at the Huckleberry copper-gold-silver-molybdenum mine, coowned by Imperial Metals Corporation and Japan Group (Mitsubishi Materials Corporation; Dowa Mining Co., Ltd.; and Furukawa Co., Ltd.), as the main-zone optimization plan progressed through year four. Exploration drilling at Whiting Creek tested near-mine targets.
Seabridge Gold Inc. expanded the copper-gold Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) project, with deep drilling at the Deep Kerr zone and the Mitchell zone. Results included 196.8 metres grading 0.69 grams per tonne gold and 0.72 per cent copper from a 1,358.2-metre depth, indicating continuation of higher copper-gold grades, which could be amenable to underground block-cave mining. Phase 1 construction permits were issued in late 2014.
Alloycorp Inc. prepared a new mill site at its Avanti Kitsault molybdenum mine, which is fully permitted for construction. Financing is partially in place and expected to be finalized after completion of an engineering study in 2016.
Pacific Booker Minerals Inc.’s Morrison copper-gold porphyry project resumed the environmental assessment process in June and is undergoing further review of several project components.
Teck Resources Limited drilled several exploration holes at Schaft Creek, concurrent with regional exploration and optimization studies of the defined Paramount and Liard zones. Limited environmental monitoring work was completed at its 50-per-cent-owned Galore Creek gold-copper project, jointly held with NovaGold Resources Inc.
Carmax Mining Corp. bored two diamond drill holes on the Pass zone of its Eaglehead copper-molybdenum porphyry project. Results indicate that copper-molybdenum mineralization extends outside of and below the known resource area.
Gold Reach Resources Ltd. started a preliminary economic assessment of its Ootsa copper-gold-molybdenum porphyry project and continued grassroots target generation on surrounding claims.
Colorado Resources Ltd. discovered the NGU copper-gold porphyry at the Pins prospect and validated the Tami prospect at its KSP project. Channel sample results returned 15 metres grading 2.94 grams per tonne gold and 0.51 per cent copper from Tami. Colorado also partnered with Centerra Gold Inc. to explore the Hearts Peak gold prospect.
Kaizen Discovery Inc. and its joint-venture partner Freeport McMoRan Inc. completed over 2,000 metres of drilling at the Tanzilla project, confirming porphyry copper-gold mineralization.
Drill programs and grassroots activities were completed on copper-gold targets in the Sheslay area, including Doubleview Capital Corp.’s Hat project, Garibaldi Resources Corp.’s Grizzly project and Prosper Gold Corp.’s Star project.
Polymetallic Base and Precious Metals
JDS Silver Inc. received its Mines Act permit to mill up to 75,000 tonnes per year from its Silvertip silver-gold mine. The company purchased a used mill and is awaiting construction financing.
Chieftain Metals Corp.’s Tulsequah Chief zinc-copper-gold mine was deemed “substantially started,” meaning that the environmental assessment certificate will remain in effect for the life of the project. The mine is permitted for construction.
Dolly Varden Silver Corporation conducted some drilling and an extensive grassroots exploration campaign at its Dolly Varden silver project.
Exploration at the Big Bulk gold-copper prospect by LCT Holdings Ltd. included extensive channel sampling, reinterpretation and geological mapping of a high-level intrusive complex that features high-grade gold at surface discovered in 2003.
Golden Jubilee Capital Corp. completed early-stage activities at its Pyramid prospect and identified a multi-phase intrusive complex with elevated copper-gold values. Drilling is planned for 2016.
Evrim Resources Corp. acquired the Ball Creek copper-gold porphyry project from Padget Minerals Corp. and conducted geological mapping and sampling.
Several operators mined nephrite jade boulders in the Cassiar, Kutcho and Provencher Lake areas. Boulders are generally trucked to Vancouver and destined for international markets.
Highbank Resources Ltd. developed its tidewater-accessible Swamp Point aggregate mine and shipped its first 4,000 tonnes off site. The company is targeting future sales to construction projects around Prince Rupert.
Omineca and Northeast
PPM Phoenix Precious Metals Corp. drilled the Cliff Creek and Duke’s Ridge zones at the Lawyers project to better define mineralized zones and test a vein system to greater depth. This was the first exploration drilling program on the property in nine years.
New Gold Inc. continued engineering and environmental studies to support the environmental assessment of its Blackwater project. A 2014 feasibility study describes an open-pit mining operation with a 60,000-tonne-per-day processing plant. Exploration in 2015 focused on targets up to four kilometres south (Dave and Blackwater South) and up to 13 kilometres west (Kaolinite Ridge and Buck) of the Blackwater deposit. Activities included diamond drilling, heliborne and ground based magnetics surveys, infill-induced polarization surveys, and grassroots work.
Theia Resources Ltd. and Kootenay Silver Inc. followed up a 2014 trenching program with diamond drilling at 2 X Fred. Drilling tested the downdip of mineralized quartz veins below the trenches at the Saki and Gold Hill target areas.
Grassroots to early-stage exploration included programs at Porpoise Bay Minerals Ltd.’s BT, C.J. Greig & Associates Ltd.’s Holy Cross and Angel Jade Mines Ltd.’s Blackjack Mineral.
Porphyry (Copper-Gold, Coppermolybdenum and Molybdenum) Projects
Thompson Creek Metals Company Inc. completed its second full year of operations at the Mt. Milligan mine, with ramp-up activities scheduled for completion by year end. A temporary secondary crusher is in use while engineering for a permanent circuit continues. An updated National Instrument 43-101 technical report was released in January. Exploration drilling began on three target areas northwest of the mine, with initial focus on Mitzi. The company placed the Endako molybdenum mine on care and maintenance mid-year following a suspension in late 2014.
AuRico Metals Inc. continued to advance the proposed Kemess Underground (KUG) block-cave mine through environmental assessment and toward an updated feasibility study. Geotechnical drilling was undertaken on key infrastructure areas. Exploration drilling continued at Kemess East, where a similar size and style of deposit as KUG is being defined, and for which an initial resource estimate was released in January. Other targets across the broader Kemess property also saw drilling and grassroots work.
Teck Resources Limited completed a step-out drilling program at Kiska Metals Corporation’s Kliyul project to better define the geology and extent of copper-gold mineralization in the Kliyul zone. Several auriferous quartz veins on the property are also known, as is an extensive phyllic alteration zone.
Pacific Empire Minerals Corp. followed up an induced-polarization survey with diamond drilling at the Elbow and Sooner targets at Col-Later. The targets lie near an inflection point in the southern portion of the Hogem intrusive complex.
Grassroots to early-stage exploration included programs at Tech-X Resources Inc.’s Prince George SE, Stone Ridge Exploration Corp.’s Hanson, Kiska Metals Corporation’s Chuchi, Serengeti Resources Inc.’s Jewel and Kwanika East-Smoke, Garibaldi Resources Corp.’s Red Lion, Pacific Empire Minerals Corp.’s Copper King and High Power Exploration Inc.’s Menard.
Polymetallic Base and Precious Metals
Canada Zinc Metals Corp. focused on downdip resource expansion and infill of the Cardiac Creek deposit with a drilling program at its Akie project. Preliminary results of an airborne gravity gradiometry survey flown in 2014 and 2015 identified new target areas at Akie, Yuen North and Mt. Alcock.
At its Cirque project, Teck Resources Limited resumed drilling at South Cirque to verify and step out from historic drilling results, and to improve resource definition. A ground-based gravity geophysical survey was completed on the Cirque, Elf and optioned properties from Canada Zinc Metals Corp. (Pie and Yuen). Preliminary results of an airborne gravity gradiometry survey were also received for the same properties, including the optioned Cirque East. Soil sample grids were expanded on Pie and Yuen, and mapping and prospecting continued on Pie, Yuen and Cirque.
Minfocus Exploration Corp. re-established a historical trench and geochemical survey grid at the Coral project. Mineralized rock chip samples were collected, and diamond drilling is planned.
Specialty Metals and Industry Metals
Fireside Minerals Ltd. has mined out the Bear pit and pre-stripped overburden at the Moose pit in preparation for the 2016 seasonal Fireside barite mine. Exploration and definition drilling identified adequate vein extensions to keep mining for several years. Barite is crushed, milled and bagged on site and trucked to a drilling mud supplier in Fort St. John.
Taseko Mines Limited continued in-house engineering, metallurgical test work and environmental baseline data gathering for the Aley niobium project as it advances through environmental assessment. An open-pit mine with a 10,000-tonne-per-day processing plant and ferroniobium converter is proposed.
Graymont Western Canada Inc. continued engineering and environmental studies at Giscome in support of its environmental assessment application and final lime plant and quarry designs. A 1,000-tonne bulk limestone sample was collected for processing tests.
Fertoz Limited upgraded the resource at Wapiti East and completed a scoping study. A seasonal shallow open-pit mine is proposed with production of up to 75,000 tonnes per year of phosphate rock. A small-mine application was submitted in 2014.
Green Mountain Gemstones Inc. returned to Ogden Mountain to mine and explore for nephrite jade.
Coal mines in the Peace River coalfield of northeast B.C. were suspended and placed on care and maintenance in 2014. Walter Energy, Inc.’s Perry Creek (Wolverine) mine remained idle, while mined inventory from Brule was transported to Willow Creek for processing and rail load-out, completed in May. At the Trend-Roman mine, Peace River Coal Inc. (Anglo American plc) continued transport and rail load-out of coal stockpile in January. The fully permitted Quintette (Babcock) mine of Teck Coal Limited was idle.
HD Mining International Ltd. continued decline construction at its Murray River project for the extraction of an underground bulk coal sample. The decline was at 1,300 metres in length by July. Underground exploration drilling targeted the first workable seam. Engineering and environmental studies continued, and a provincial environmental assessment certificate was granted for a longwall mining operation with a saleable coal production rate of 4.8 million tonnes per year.
Glencore plc continued engineering and environmental studies in support of its environmental assessment application for the Sukunka project, which was accepted for review. An open-pit mining operation with up to three million tonnes per year production of saleable metallurgical coal is proposed. An updated geological model increased coal resources.
Following a 2014 pre-feasibility study update, Atrum Coal NL completed engineering studies and coal quality tests, and upgraded the resource and geological models for the Groundhog North component of its Groundhog project. An underground mine expected to produce 3.2 million tonnes per year of saleable, ultra-high-rank anthracite product is planned. Anthracite coal has both steelmaking and industrial applications.
Magnum Goldcorp Inc. drilled the LH property, targeting gold mineralization identified in historic underground workings.
In the Greenwood area, Ximen Mining Corp. continued work at the Gold Drop project. Golden Dawn Minerals Inc. was active on its Greenwood (May Mac) properties, and Kinross Gold Corporation optioned 27,346 hectares of land owned by Grizzly Discoveries Inc. The area is north of Kinross Gold Corporation’s Kettle River-Buckhorn mine and concentrator (Kettle River Operations) in Washington state, which has a mill capacity of 1,800 tonnes per day.
Polymetallic Base and Precious Metals
Purcell Basin Minerals Inc. continued with environmental baseline studies at its Gallowai Bul River Mine and is working toward an application for a mine restart. The copper-silver mine has a 750-tonne-per-day mill on site, as well as underground development, and has been on care and maintenance since 2009.
Sedimentary exhalative mineralization in mesoproterozoic rocks continued to be a target in the East Kootenays. PJX Resources Inc. continued drilling at the Vine project and expanded its geological and geophysical modelling to define additional targets. Santa Fe Metals Corp. continued geophysical work, with plans for additional drilling later this year on the Sully property, and Sonoro Metals Corp. drilled at its Monroe project.
In the West Kootenays, Taranis Resources Inc. continued exploration on its Thor project, targeting gold and stratiform base metal mineralization. Discovery Ventures Inc. continued work at Willa, with plans for drilling and bulk sampling. The company also acquired FortyTwo Metals Inc., and now owns 100 per cent of the nearby Max mine and mill, which it plans to use to process ore from Willa. The Max mine and mill have been on care and maintenance since 2011, when the Max molybdenum mine was shut down.
Margaux Resources Ltd. targeted both a strata-bound lead-zinc-silver zone and a tungsten-skarn zone at Jersey-Emerald, with a focus on underground bulk sampling and drilling.
Braveheart Resources Inc. continued work at its neighbouring Referendum and Whitewater properties, and Klondike Silver Corp. continued mine and mill facility upgrades and environmental work at its Slocan Silver project to the north.
North of Revelstoke, Huakan International Mining Inc. continued environmental baseline studies at the underground gold and base-metal J&L mine, in order to move toward environmental assessment, and Silver Phoenix Resources Inc. drilled electromagnetic targets at its River Jordan project.
Specialty Metals and Industry Metals
CertainTeed Gypsum Canada Inc. continued production at its Elkhorn gypsum mine and continued to advance the proposed Kootenay West Mine, which entered the pre-application stages of environmental assessment in 2013.
Magnesite is produced by Baymag Inc. at the Mount Brussilof mine from Cambrian carbonate rocks, and MGX Minerals Inc. continued drilling at its Driftwood Magnesite project. MGX has applied for a mining lease for a quarry operation and has entered into agreements to acquire a site to construct a processing facility in Cranbrook.
Heemskirk Canada Ltd. continued construction of a hydraulic fracturing sand-processing plant at its Moberley silica mine.
Phosphate is being targeted in the Rocky Mountain foreland belt by HiBrix Manufacturing Inc. at its Cro project.
Eagle Graphite Corp. continued exploration drilling at the Black Crystal flake-graphite quarry and is focusing its efforts on improving processing techniques at the plant to enhance the product quality.
Mining operations, coal production and environmental assessment for expansion plans continue at the five mines in the Elk Valley operated by Teck Coal Limited. The main product is metallurgical coal (85 per cent), with some thermal and pulverized coal injection coal (15 per cent combined). Production from the Elk Valley in 2014 was 26.5 megatonnes of clean coal. In 2015, Teck Coal Limited implemented rotating shutdowns in order to align production and inventory with weaker commodity prices. Expected production volumes for 2015 are around 25 megatonnes, and the company is focused on reducing costs and improving efficiency at all operations.
- At Fording River Operations, the Swift project expansion received environmental assessment approval in September 2015, and the project is now moving forward to satisfy the conditions. In addition to the Swift expansion plan, exploration drilling also continued on the Fording mine site in active pits.
- At Elkview Operations, the Baldy Ridge Extension entered the pre-application stage of environmental assessment in 2014. Exploration drilling in the current mine boundary was directed toward planning for the next phases of mining in the Baldy and Natal pits.
- At Greenhills Operations, drilling focused on the active Cougar pit, and baseline work continued for advancement toward pre-application of the Cougar Pit Extension project.
- At Line Creek Operations, the Burnt Ridge Extension project entered the pre-application stage of environmental assessment in 2014. The project will connect the current operating area to the recently approved Phase II area by extending the current Burnt Ridge South pit to the north.
- Exploration drilling at Coal Mountain focused mainly on active pits.
In addition to the producing mine, the Elk Valley and Crowsnest coalfields host several advanced-stage projects. Teck Coal Limited’s Coal Mountain Phase II (Marten Wheeler) project, which will use the infrastructure at the company’s Coal Mountain Operations, entered the pre-application stage in 2014.
Jameson Resources Limited continued to advance its Crown Mountain project, and entered pre-application of environmental assessment in October 2014, and CanAus Coal Ltd. continued drilling at Loop Ridge as part of its Michel Creek project toward the pre-application stage of environmental assessment.
Crowsnest Pass Coal Mining Ltd.’s Coal Creek project and Centremount Coal Ltd.’s Bingay Main projects remain on hold.
Barkerville Gold Mines Ltd. began test mining at its Bonanza Ledge mine near Wells in early 2015. Activity at its Cariboo Gold project included up to 55,000 metres of exploration drilling on high-grade underground-mineable vein deposits as well as disseminated bulk surface-mineable deposits. A March 2015 technical report for Cow Mountain, part of the Cariboo Gold project, lists 2.8 million ounces of gold in the “indicated” category and two million ounces in the “inferred” category, at grades of 2.4 grams per tonne and 2.3 grams per tonne respectively.
Westhaven Ventures Inc. acquired epithermal gold prospects in the Spences Bridge gold belt. Work on the Shovelnose property included lidar and ground geophysical surveys, and drilling.
Avino Silver & Gold Mines Ltd. acquired Bralorne gold mine in late 2014 but suspended mining shortly thereafter. The company announced plans for a multi-stage, multi-year project aimed at increasing resources and capacity. Work in 2015 included improvements to mine and mill facilities as well as exploration drilling.
Porphyry (Copper-Gold, Coppermolybdenum and Molybdenum) Projects
The Thompson-Okanagan-Cariboo region hosts three copper-gold mines: New Gold Inc.’s New Afton mine, Copper Mountain Mining Corporation’s Copper Mountain mine and Imperial Metals Corporation’s Mount Polley mine, where limited production resumed in August 2015, one year after a major tailings dam breach.
After four years of exploration, environmental studies and engineering studies, KGHM Ajax Mining Inc. applied for environmental certification with the BC Environmental Assessment Office and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. Ajax is a proposed 60,000-tonne-per day open-pit mine with a projected 20-year lifespan, on the outskirts of Kamloops. The company is a joint venture between KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. and Abacus Mining and Exploration Corporation.
WestKam Gold Corp. followed up on 2013 and 2014 geophysical surveys with mapping, prospecting and a drill program on its Bonaparte project to test copper-gold porphyry targets. Historically, high grade, near-surface gold veins in quartz diorite have been the focus of exploration.
Kaizen Discovery Inc. drilled the Aspen Grove copper-gold project in 2015. An initial hole testing a geophysical target at the Ketchan Lake prospect returned positive results from surface. Widely spaced holes are designed to test a 500-metre-by1,800-metre target. Drilling at the Par prospect also intersected mineralization. Aspen Grove is 60-per cent-owned by Kaizen and 40-per-cent-owned by Itochu Corporation.
GWR Resources Inc. targeted the Aurizon South breccia zone on its Lac La Hache property with closely spaced drill holes that intersected mineralization, including a high-grade coppergold-silver interval. The company also reported finding a new zone of disseminated copper-gold mineralization (the Berkey zone) in a recently logged but unexplored part of its claims. Followup drilling began in October.
The region hosts the province’s two largest copper-molybdenum producers, Teck Resources Limited’s 97.5-per-centowned Highland Valley Copper and Taseko Mines Limited’s 75-per-centowned Gibraltar mine. In 2014, Amarc Resources Ltd. drilled its Ike property, a copper- molybdenum-silver porphyry target in the Coast Plutonic Complex. Because of encouraging results, Thompson Creek Metals Company Inc. has partnered with Amarc to advance the project. Another round of drilling began in the fall. Constantia Resources Ltd. has continued to focus on community engagement in relation to the Maggie coppermolybdenum project, near Cache Creek. Exploration drilling began in the fall.
Plate Resources Inc. has an option agreement with a Korean consortium (Nexgeo Inc. and Korea Resources Corporation) to explore the Lucky Mike property, which has copper-tungsten skarn and gold veins among identified targets. Successful initial drilling late in 2014 prompted a followup drilling program in 2015. Results are pending.
Westhaven Ventures Inc. pursued its late-2014 discovery of nickel mineralization on its Ben and Ben South properties near Williams Lake. Preliminary metallurgical work suggested that 90 per cent of contained nickel is in sulphide form.
Lithium Corporation followed up ground-penetrating radar and a GEM-2 electromagnetic survey with trenching at the BC Sugar graphite prospect. Targets are exploitable concentrations of flake graphite. Widespread crystalline graphite is found principally in gneiss and marble.
South and West Coast
Glenmark Capital Corp. undertook a program of packsack drilling and rock sampling on its recently acquired Margurete gold property. This project is within the historic Philips ArmLoughborough Inlet camp, which includes the past-producing Doratha Morton, Alexandria and Loughborough gold mines. Targets were gold-bearing quartz veins and shear zones.
Polymetallic Base and Precious Metals
Nyrstar N.V. announced a temporary suspension of mining at Myra Falls, beginning in June, indicating the shutdown period would be at least six months, as critical infrastructure was in need of maintenance and upgrades. Although work began, it was to be suspended in the fall. On site definition and exploration drilling continued during the shutdown, with some success. Myra Falls has processed more than 30 million tonnes of ore since 1966, and discoveries of high-grade ore lenses continue.
Industrial Minerals and Aggregates
Investigative work relating to industrial minerals and aggregates is often unpublicized, but Electra Stone Ltd. reported that it is defining its resource at Apple Bay, a quarry that has provided silica and alumina products to the Ashgrove Cement Company. The project included drilling, mapping and sampling. Application information requirements for the Burnco Aggregate project (Burnco Rock Products Ltd.), a proposed 1.6-million-tonne-per-year operation, have been approved, but the project remains in the pre-application phase of environmental assessment.
Magmatic Copper and Precious Metals
Underground rehabilitation and an airborne magnetic and radiometric survey were carried out at the Sunro mine, a past producer of copper, gold and silver on southern Vancouver Island. There are historical resource estimates for the property but no modern estimates. The property has seen little exploration beyond rock and soil geochemistry since the 1970s. New Sunro Copper Ltd. is the new owner.
Hillsborough Resources Limited’s Quinsam thermal coal mine is operating at a reduced level. It did restart after a summer shutdown; however, exploration was suspended in 2015 following several years of on-site and regional programs. To the south, Compliance Energy Corporation’s Raven metallurgical coal project was withdrawn from the environmental assessment pre-application process.
The British Columbia Geological Survey (BCGS), established in 1895, is the government organization responsible for the collection, inventory, assessment and archiving of British Columbia’s geology and related assessment of mineral and coal resources. The BCGS links government, the minerals industry and British Columbians to the province’s complex geology and rich mineral wealth. Through its professional staff, the BCGS generates technical geoscience publications that are freely accessible through MapPlace, an online, map-based digital delivery system. The activities of the BCGS and its geoscience products are profiled annually at AME BC’s Mineral Exploration Roundup in Vancouver, in addition to other regional and international geoscience conferences. Located on the second floor of the Vancouver Convention Centre, the BC Pavilion is a one-stop venue for Roundup delegates to discuss the business of mineral exploration with government personnel. The BC Pavilion affords the BCGS the opportunity to present program highlights, geoscience information, publications, and new exploration concepts and targets.
The BCGS is headquartered in Victoria and is a branch in the Mines and Mineral Resources division of the Ministry of Energy and Mines. It consists of three sections: Cordilleran Geoscience, Resource Information and the Mineral Development Office. The Cordilleran Geoscience section is responsible for generating new geoscience knowledge, largely through field-based studies and surveys. The Resource Information section is responsible for maintaining and developing the provincial geoscience databases and disseminating geoscience data online through MapPlace, the award-winning web service. This section is responsible for evaluating, approving and archiving mineral and coal exploration assessment reports filed by the exploration and mining industry. The Mineral Development Office links the province’s mineral and coal resources with the investment community, distributes and promotes the BCGS’s technical data, and coordinates the technical outputs of the Regional Geologist Program.
The BCGS supports the mineral exploration industry through the projects it undertakes. Field projects in 2015 were mainly directed at B.C.’s prolific porphyry belts. These multi-year studies were conducted in the Nicola Arc of the Quesnel Terrane in B.C.’s Interior Plateau and in Stikine Terrane in northwest B.C. Projects in the Nicola Arc focused on mapping and establishing a stratigraphic framework along the arc between Merritt and Likely. In northwest B.C, mapping in the Stikine Terrane was carried out in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), through the second iteration of the Geo-mapping for Energy and Minerals Program. In recent years, the BCGS has expanded and developed new mineral-exploration methodologies.
An important theme of the 2015 studies was porphyry indicator minerals (PIMs) as an exploration tool. A new BCGS partnership with the Canadian Mining Innovation Council investigated PIMs in till from Highland Valley, continuing the work that was completed at Gibraltar, Mount Polley and Woodjam by the BCGS and the GSC under the Targeted Geoscience Initiative 4 (TGI-4) program. Another exploration methodology project, completed in partnership with the University of Victoria, used trace elements in apatite to discriminate major mineral deposit types. The discriminant methodology was field tested on detrital apatite in till from the Woodjam project. The results of these and other projects were presented at the fall BCGS Open House, held jointly with a two-day strategic and critical materials symposium that delivered the final results of the TGI-4 specialty metals project and served as the launch point for further studies.
The BCGS continues to update and distribute its databases, including Minfile, Coalfile, Property File and ARIS (Assessment Report Indexing System), through MapPlace and its integrated applications. Development continues on MapPlace 2, the next generation of MapPlace, with testing of the new open-source version of MapGuide. The BC Digital Geology Map, which uses a unique geospatial data model, remains a BCGS priority, with frequent updates. Since 2013, 1,760 new mineral occurrences have been added to Minfile, and 4,600 mineral occurrence records have been updated. Property File now has over 54,000 unique reports and maps, documenting exploration activity in British Columbia from the late 1800s. The BCGS has updated the RGS (Regional Geochemical Survey) database and is currently modernizing the provincial lithogeochemical database. The BCGS’s provincial rock and pulp archive, which hosts over 600,000 samples and is valued at more than $20 million, was relocated to a new storage facility on Belleville Street in Victoria.
Geoscience BC, a not-for-profit, non-governmental geoscience organization funded by provincial government grants, also provides geoscience information in British Columbia. Geoscience BC celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2015. Its mandate is to attract mineral and oil and gas investment to British Columbia by generating and publicly distributing geoscience data. Geoscience BC is industry-focused and awards contracts for large geophysical and geochemical programs as well as grants to universities and consultants to undertake targeted geoscience projects, typically generated through requests for proposals. Geoscience BC is governed by a volunteer board of directors and receives technical direction from volunteer technical advisory committees (mineral exploration, oil and gas, and geothermal), whose membership is largely drawn from the exploration industry.