The year 2020 will be remembered for the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the pandemic, exploration activity in British Columbia rebounded following initial disruptions. Likely stimulated by the pandemic, a significant increase in the price of gold and, to a lesser extent, copper spurred financing and exploration for precious metal and Cu-Au projects in the province. At the time of writing, Regional Geologists of the Mineral Development Office in the British Columbia Geological Survey (Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources) had not yet completed the annual exploration expenditure survey. British Columbia may have avoided the global trend of declining expenditures and activity due to the resourcefulness of B.C. mineral explorers and the innate mineral endowment of the province, coupled with the provincial government’s declaring exploration and mining as essential services. Reports of new discoveries and significant results continue to date, supporting British Columbia’s reputation as a premier jurisdiction for mineral exploration and mine development opportunities.
Precious metal projects
Mountain Boy Minerals Ltd. is exploring its American Creek project, where fieldwork included a property-wide lidar survey, an IP geophysical survey and 4,000 m of drilling. Drilling tested the geological model and the extent of known mineralized prospects near historic mining operations. Using results from a recent ZTEM geophysical survey and geological mapping and geochemical sampling, a 2,800 m reverse circulation drilling program was initiated by Libero Copper & Gold Corporation to test the Ridge and ME-18 targets at the Big Red project. Surface sampling at the Ridge prospect returned a highlight assay of 104.0 g/t Au. San Marco Resources Inc. carried out geological mapping, geochemical sampling and ground magnetic and induced polarization surveys at its Buck project. These data, used in conjunction with historic geological, geochemical and geophysical data, were used to define drill targets. Initial drilling, which included 1,806 m of core, yielded highlights of 91 m grading 0.75 g/t Au within 156 m of 0.59 g/t Au. By the end of this year, the company anticipates drilling an additional 5,000 m to test the extent of structurally controlled Au-Ag epithermal-veins. The Casper Au- bearing quartz vein, discovered late in 2019 by Garibaldi Resources Corp., is 13 km north of the company’s Nickel Mountain project. Highlights from this past season include a channel sample assaying 93.3 g/t Au and a trench sample returning 5.69 g/t Au across 52 m.
A 5,000 m drill program is underway on the Cassiar Gold project, where Cassiar Gold Corp. is focusing drilling on infill, extension and exploration targets near the Taurus resource area. Mapping and sampling are also being done to further guide target generation.
At the Dome Mountain project, Blue Lagoon Resources Inc. is completing 3,000 m of drilling to upgrade Inferred resources into the Indicated category. Propertywide radiometric, electromagnetic, and magnetic airborne geophysical surveys were also completed. A $7.5-million private placement was recently completed and will be used to further exploration.
Mineralized surface rock samples returning 10 – 43.4 g/t Au, 29.2 46.0 g/t Ag, and 1.3 – 4.6 per cent Cu are guiding a drill program at Aben Resources Ltd.’s Forrest Kerr project testing Boundary Valley targets. A drill hole in 2019 intersected a mineralized horizon more than 19 m directly below the surface samples. At the Georgia project, AUX Resources Corporation is completing 3,500 m of drilling near the past-producing Georgia River mine. Drilling is being used to extend and assess known mineralization at the mine and to test newly developed targets outside of the known mineralization. Enduro Metals Corporation continues to focus exploration at its Newmont Lake project, where geophysics, hyperspectral, geochemical rock and soil sampling, and alteration mapping are underway. In addition, 6,000 m of diamond drilling will be completed on targets along the McLymont fault. Ascot Resources Ltd. continues to explore its Premier project, focusing on the Premier West, Silver Hill, Lost Valley and Woodbine zones, with prospecting, geophysics and diamond drilling. The company anticipates drilling 15,000 m of core; early drill highlights include 40.78 g/t Au across 6.0 m at the Premier West zone. An updated Feasibility Study was also prepared for the Premier and Red Mountain projects earlier this year. Scottie Resources Corp. continues to explore the Scottie Gold project, which includes the past-producing Scottie Gold mine, with 7,000 m of drilling to test zones such as the Bend, Bow and Blueberry. Several zones at the Scottie Gold mine are also being targeted to delineate the lateral and vertical mineralized extents. The recently discovered Domino zone, where a grab sample previously taken from a gossanous east-trending shear zone assayed 536 g/t Au, is also being drilled. An underground-constrained mineral resource estimate was announced in July for Skeena Resources Limited’s Snip project. Indicated resources of 244,000 oz of Au are in 539,000 t at 14.0 g/t Au, and Inferred resources of 402,000 oz of Au are in 942,000 t grading 13.3 g/t Au. Expansion drilling at the 200 Footwall Corridor and other near-mine targets will be the near-term drilling focus.
Cu-Mo, Cu-Au-Ag, Mo (porphyry) projects
Doubleview Capital Corp. continues to explore its wholly owned Hat project in the northern reaches of the Golden Triangle. An initial 4,000 m drill program will focus on the Lisle zone and follow up a diamond drill hole from 2019 that returned 235 m grading 1.04 g/t AuEq. This zone was first targeted from a deep-penetrating 3D induced polarization survey completed in 2018. Imperial Metals Corporation is reexploring the limits of mineralization at the past-producing Huckleberry mine and testing below the East zone pit at depth. Historic drilling previously ended in Cu-mineralization; approximately 2,400 m of initial drilling will be used to test the mineralized extents of the system. Seabridge Gold Inc. slated 8,000 m of drilling to test below the Quartz Rise lithocap at its wholly owned Iskut project. Geophysics, surface mapping and sampling, and preliminary drilling guided the program, which was mainly designed to evaluate an 800 m-deep IP geophysical anomaly approximately 750 m long. Also, geotechnical drilling commenced at the KSM project in July, where 4,000 m will be drilled in 10 holes to obtain geotechnical information along the proposed route of the Mitchell Treaty tunnels. These tunnels will serve to transfer ore from the mine to the mill and transport consumables to the mine site. Metallis Resources Inc. conducted field mapping, drill-core relogging and short-wave infrared analysis on its Kirkham project. Preliminary data will help guide planned 5,000 m of drilling focused on the southern section of the Hawilson monzonite porphyry.
Two drill programs were underway in October at the Red Chris mine, a joint venture between Newcrest Mining Limited and Imperial Metals Corporation, with resource definition on East Zone and brownfields exploration along the Red Chris porphyry corridor. Discrete pods of Au-Cu mineralization were intersected in the definition drilling, including highlights of 232 m grading 2.6 g/t Au and 1.5 per cent Cu that included a 122 m interval grading 4.5 g/t Au and 2.3 per cent Cu. Evergold Corp. completed 2,800 m of drilling at the Snoball project, focusing on the Pyramid Peak showing, where Noranda Mines Ltd. reported Au and Ag anomalies in fine-grained talus in the 1990s. Drill highlights included 20.8 g/t Au and 54.5 g/t Ag across 0.7 m. In June, GT Gold Corp. released a maiden resource for the Saddle North porphyry discovery on its Tatogga property. The resource included Indicated resources of 298 Mt grading 0.28 per cent Cu, 0.36 g/t Au and 0.8 g/t Ag and Inferred resources of 543 Mt grading 0.25 per cent Cu, 0.31 g/t Au and 0.7 g/t Ag. The Quash Pass area, part of the Tatogga property, is currently being mapped and drilled; 5,000 m of drilling is planned. Brixton Metals Corporation is drilling the West and Central Outlaw Au targets of its Thorn project, where more than 3,000 m have been drilled, and plans deep diamond drill holes for the Camp Creek target. More than 5,400 soil and 1,200 rock samples were collected; separate rock samples yielded highlights of 36.9 g/t Au, 2,890 g/t Ag, and 7.2 per cent
Cu. The company expanded its land package by optioning adjoining properties from Stuhini Exploration Ltd. (Metla) and Kodiak Copper Corp. (Trapper). P2 Gold Inc. is exploring its recently optioned Todd Creek property in the Golden Triangle. Satellite hyperspectral and airborne magnetic and radiometric surveys were completed to guide maiden drilling that tested the Yellow Bowl zone and Cu-Au showings five km southeast of Yellow Bowl. Three holes were drilled totalling 1,027 m.
Tudor Gold Corp. is the operator of the Treaty Creek project, where exploration this season was mainly focused on the Goldstorm zone. A 40,000 m drill program was planned to test the limits of known mineralization to the southeast and northeast and expand the mineralization of the Goldstorm system. Drill highlights include 348 m of 2.12 g/t AuEq in a broader 930 m intersection averaging 1.16 g/t AuEq. The company anticipates combining results from new and previous drilling to produce an initial resource estimate.
Base and precious metal projects
Exploration this year at Pretium Resources Inc.’s Bowser Regional project was primarily focused on the A6 zone, which is approximately 14 km northeast of the Brucejack mine. The company expected to drill about 10,000 m at A6 to delineate volcanogenic massive sulfide mineralization. The company also plans to complete 3,700 m of drilling at the Koopa, Hanging Glacier and East Snowfield zones to test their mineralized extents. Dolly Varden Silver Corporation planned a 10,000 m drill program at its Dolly Varden project to focus on expanding resources from the NI 43-101 report published in 2019 and on Ag targets outside of the current resources at the past-producing Torbit Mine. In July, Skeena Resources Limited announced its intention to exercise the option to acquire 100 per cent of the Eskay Creek project from Barrick Gold Inc. Barrick is expected to own approximately 12.4 per cent of Skeena’s shares outstanding, including shares held, and has agreed to waive its back-in right on the project. Skeena planned 88,000 m of drilling for the Eskay Creek project, 66,000 m for infill and the remainder for exploration. Highlights from initial drilling include 25.03 g/t AuEq across 35.42 m in the 21A zone. Etruscus Resources Corp. sampled, prospected, mapped and flew a VTEM survey at its Rock and Roll property, which contains known resources at the Black Dog deposit. Results were to guide late season drilling focusing on depth potential and prospective areas close to the Black Dog system.
At the end of February, Coeur Mining Inc. announced a temporary suspension of mining and processing at the Silvertip mine. However, the company planned to double its exploration investment this year to potentially further expand the resource and extend the mine life. As of mid-October, more than 38,000 m of diamond drilling was completed, focused primarily on testing further step-out targets. Initial work suggests that manto-style mineralization continues north and south of known resources.
Equity Metals Corporation planned a 3,000 m drill program to test the full extent of mineralization in an alteration halo surrounding polymetallic veins on its Silver Queen project. Areas where historic drilling encountered mineralized zones were also to be tested.
Ni-Cu-Co-precious metal projects
As of mid-October, drilling was underway at the Nickel Mountain project, where Garibaldi Resources Corp. is attempting to expand the known magmatic Ni-Cu massive sulfide system. Drilling is targeting a 2 km-long east-southeast trending corridor of mineralization. Results to date have extended the strike length of the mineralized system eastward for more than 650 m.
Allegiance Coal Limited continued to forward its Tenas project and receiving an environmental assessment certificate by collecting environmental data and completing the required regulatory processes.
Northeast and Central Regions
Precious metal projects
Artemis Gold Inc. acquired the Blackwater Gold project from New Gold Inc. for approximately $210 million. At a 0.20 g/t AuEq cut-off, the total Measured and Indicated mineral resource is estimated at 597 Mt at 0.65 g/t AuEq, 0.61 g/t Au and 6.4 g/t Ag for a total of 12.4 million AuEq oz. Revised pre-feasibility study results included an unlevered after-tax NPV of $2.2 billion, an after-tax IRR of 35 per cent and payback on initial capital costs of two years. The project has both provincial and federal environmental assessment approval. BW Gold Ltd. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Artemis) plans to move the project forward with construction starting in the second quarter of 2022. Benchmark Metals Inc. planned to complete up to 100,000 m of diamond drilling in 2020 at its Lawyers project. The project has five discrete zones (Cliff Creek, Duke’s Ridge, Phoenix and AGB) targeted for their bulk tonnage potential. Highlight results included 57.91 m of 1.90 g/t Au and 91.96 g/t Ag and 31 m of 2.98 g/t Au and 72.77 g/t Ag. Results are to be used to prepare a global resource estimate and a preliminary economic assessment in early 2021.
Independence Gold Corp. announced that 2,200 m in 11 holes would be drilled in the fall at its 3Ts project. Drill collar location selection was largely based on an extensive compilation and a 3D geological model of the known epithermal vein system, in addition to magnetic and spectral surveys, completed in 2019. At its Golden Lion project, Evergold Corp. reported broad intersections of epithermal mineralization from more than 2,500 m of drilling at the GL1 “Main” prospect. The company also carried out an IP survey that defined a resistivity and chargeability anomaly encompassing hundreds of m of strike length, broad widths, and untested down-dip potential NV Gold Corporation carried out detailed mapping, trenching, soil sampling, project-wide geophysics and structural modeling at its optioned Exodus Gold project. These data were to be used to develop diamond drill targets.
In September, Tower Resources Ltd. carried out reverse circulation (RC) drilling on its Nechako Gold project to map out a mineralized trend beneath thick till cover. Drilling was designed to follow up on spring diamond drill results that returned 7.1 m grading 2.75 g/t Au and 40 g/t Ag. Results from the RC drilling along with ground magnetic and IP geophysical surveys were to be used to target approximately 2,000 m of diamond drilling. High Range Exploration Ltd. planned to extract a 10,000 t bulk sample from its Dominion Creek gold property. The sample would be shipped to Nicola Mining Inc.’s mill and Nicola will be responsible for negotiating the sale of concentrate to a smelter or third-party purchaser.
Cu-Mo, Cu-Au-Ag, and Mo (porphyry) projects
Amarc Resources Ltd. filed a 43-101 report providing details on the potential of the Company’s JOY porphyry Cu-Au deposit.
QuestEx Gold & Copper Ltd. (formerly Colorado Resources Ltd.) announced IP surveying, soil sampling and mapping for its Sofia project. Data will be used for targeting diamond drilling in 2021. At the Pil project, Finlay Minerals Ltd. carried out a property-wide, high-resolution airborne magnetic survey, detailed geological, alteration and structural mapping, and soil and rock geochemistry sampling. Centerra Gold Inc. carried out exploration on several of its projects. At the Kemess project, 3,302 m of diamond drilling was carried out on the Nugget target and IP surveys completed on the Rat Hilda and Orion targets. At the Kemess East project, 4,257 m of diamond drilling was completed. At the Mount Milligan mine site, 17,500 m of diamond drilling was planned. Mount Milligan on lease brownfield work included approximately 15,000 m of diamond drilling and two line-km of IP surveying. Mount Milligan off lease greenfield work included approximately 5,100 m of diamond drilling and 10 to 15 line-km of IP surveying. GGL Resources Corp. carried out 20 line-km of IP and ground magnetic surveys over a known Cu-Au porphyry zone at its McConnell Copper-Gold project. The IP survey follows up on an older reconnaissance IP survey. New work is designed to better define the known chargeability target, and to expand geophysical coverage to evaluate the potential for other nearby targets under overburden cover.
IMC International Mining Corp. carried out ground geophysics, alteration mapping, rock, soil and silt sampling at its Thane property to guide diamond drilling. Pacific Empire Minerals Corp. was active at both the Jean Marie and Weedon projects. Sampling highlights for Jean Marie include rock samples returning 8.79 g/t Au, 86.6 g/t Ag and 1.75 per cent Cu from the newly identified Leap target area, and continuous chip sampling results of 4 m grading 1.37 per cent Cu, 0.08 g/t Au and 67.4 g/t Ag at C zone south. A ground magnetic survey was carried out over the C zone south target area and a property-wide airborne magnetic survey was commissioned. The company announced that diamond drilling would be carried out in the fall. At the Weedon project, reverse circulation drilling was carried out to sample bedrock under glacial overburden at the T1 target. Pacific Ridge Exploration Ltd. completed fieldwork at its Kliyul and Redton projects. At Kliyul, work included 9.1 line-km of IP and ground magnetometer surveys over the Kliyul Main zone, surface and drill core sampling to identify alteration and geochemical trends, and historical core re-logging to identify porphyrystyle veining. At Redton, one 434 m diamond drill hole tested a 550 m by 250 m magnetic and IP chargeability anomaly and coincident 500 m x 100 m copper- molybdenum-in soil anomaly. Serengeti Resources Inc. was active at the Kwanika, East Niv and Top Cat projects. The Kwanika project is owned by Kwanika Copper Corporation, a joint venture consisting of Serengeti Resources Inc. (66 per cent) and Posco International Corporation (34 per cent). Serengeti, on behalf of Kwanika Copper Corp., conducted exploration diamond drilling at Kwanika. The team expected to include up to 4,300 m of drilling in eight to nine drill holes, testing several exploration targets and resource expansion opportunities. At East Niv, mapping, sampling and IP geophysical surveys were completed. New data identified a 3.5 sq km multiparameter porphyry Cu-Au target. At Top Cat, mapping and sampling were carried out over the Nova zone. In addition, IP surveying was carried out over the Nova and Cat Mountain zones. Orestone Mining Corp. announced fall plans for diamond drilling at its Captain project. Target areas are outlined by strong magnetic anomalies with spatially associated moderate IP chargeability anomalies that are potentially related to mineralized monzonite porphyries and breccias.
Base and precious metal projects
Sun Metals Corp. continued to explore at the Stardust project. In late September, the company announced that 11,988 m of drilling had been completed and drilling would continue into early October. Work also included geophysical surveys, geotechnical work and core logging and sampling. Initial drilling results established continuity between the 421 and Canyon Creek zones along a 900 m corridor of continuous high-grade Cu- Au mineralization. Results included 1.57 per cent Cu, 1.08 g/t Au, and 28.2 g/t Ag or 2.88 per cent CuEq over 44 m.
Specialty metal projects
Taseko Mines Limited continued with ongoing technical work, environmental monitoring, and product marketing initiatives for its Aley niobium project. Defense Metals Corp. filed an updated 43-101 technical report, began baseline environmental studies and carried out flotation pilot plant studies for its Wicheeda rare earth element project. The updated report includes an Indicated mineral resource of 4.89 Mt averaging 3.02 per cent LREO (Light Rare Earth Oxide), in addition to Inferred mineral resource of 12.1 Mt averaging 2.90 per cent (LREO reported at a cut-off grade of 1.5 per cent LREE [sum of cerium (Ce), lanthanum (La), neodymium (Nd), praseodymium (Pr), and samarium (Sm); in addition to niobium (Nb) percentages as metal].
Ni-C-Co-precious metal projects
FPX Nickel Corp. announced a positive preliminary economic assessment for its Decar project’s Baptiste deposit. Highlights included a mine life of 35 years and aftertax payback of 4.0 years, after-tax net present value (8 per cent) of US$1.72 billion and an internal rate of return of 18.3 per cent, average Ni production of 99 Mlbs per year, average operating costs of US$2.74/lb Ni and all-in sustain costs of US$3.12/ lb Ni and average US$481 million of annual earnings before royalties, taxes and depreciation.
At the Rocky Creek project, CTI Plus Resources Ltd. drilled approximately 75 holes, including HQ coring, PQ coring and rotary drilling. Coal seams were sampled and sent for testing. Also, 10 trenches were geologically mapped and sampled. Data will be used for a feasibility study.
Industrial mineral projects
Fertoz Ltd. continued with mine design and engineering studies for its Wapiti phosphate project.
Precious metal projects
Exploration continued in the Greenwood district in 2020. Grizzly Discoveries Inc. began 2,000 m of drilling at the Ket 28 property to follow up on historic results of 2.77 g/t Au along 11 m and 8.75 g/t Au along 3 m, with a higher-grade zone of 11.90 g/t Au along 2 m. The company’s claim holdings extend for about 61,000 ha[CGE4] and include targets such as skarns, polymetallic and epithermal veins and porphyries. At the Golden Crown property, Golden Dawn Minerals Inc. sampled and trenched a sulphide-quartz vein system, following up on chip sample results of up to 5.87 g/t Au along 4 m. GGX Gold Corp. continued drilling and trenching at the Gold Drop property, which includes a series of parallel high-grade epithermal veins. A total of more than 5,000 m of drilling was planned for the year. Trenching uncovered new veins this year, with visible gold in a new vein west of the C.O.D vein. North of Grand Forks, KG Exploration (Canada) Inc., drilled 1,200 m from 5 locations at its Radpath project. KG Exploration, the Canadian exploration arm of Kinross Gold Corporation, is exploring the northern extensions of the Toroda and Republic grabens for replacement production at the firm’s Kettle River mill in Washington State. Ximen Mining Corp. began rehabilitating old portals at the past-producing Kenville mine, to access historic workings for its planned drill program. A 51 kg composite sample, with a grade of 17.16 g/t Au, was sent for metallurgical testing, with results indicating the ore is amenable to gravity-flotation, with recoveries of up to 99 per cent Au and 95 per cent Ag. In the East Kootenay, PJX Resources Inc. released results from its drilling at the Gold Shear property. The team intersected a vein, 1.2 to 4.5 m wide, with 2.5 m grading 25.07 g/t Au, 2.1 m grading 14.06 g/t Au and 1.2 m of 19.85 g/t Au. Drilling tested the downdip extension to 100 m below surface. Further mapping and prospecting traced the gold zone for more than 2,000 m along strike.
Base and precious metal projects
Mesoproterozoic SEDEX mineralization continued to be a target in the East Kootenay. Eagle Plains Resources Ltd. drilled 2 DDH (977 m) at the Vulcan project to test geophysical anomalies. PJX Resources Inc. continued drilling at the Vine property early in the year but halted in March due to uncertainty about Covid-19. The company intersected bedding- parallel massive sulphides consisting of mainly pyrrhotite with minor chalcopyrite, galena and sphalerite in what it considers is a structural corridor. DLP Resources Inc. optioned to earn 75 per cent from PJX Resources at the DD property and extended a hole that was drilled in 2018 to a depth of 1,711 m. DLP encountered hydrothermal alteration with sericite, albite, garnet and silica, and a 14.8 m interval with trace sphalerite. The company began a magnetotelluric (MT) survey on its adjacent claims to the north and east, and drilling to the southwest on the Aldridge 1 property. The first hole, drilled to 1,048 m, encountered highly altered (quartz-albite) sedimentary rocks with abundant pyrrhotite and trace sphalerite, and a 20 cm sphalerite-rich and silicified zone. Further drilling is underway on targets from DLP’s 2019 MT survey. The company also plans to drill at the Aldridge 2 and Hungry Creek properties later this year. At the Bull River mine, Braveheart Resources Inc. drilled 831 m (5 DDH) of a planned 3,000 m underground drill program but ceased activities in March because of COVID-19. The holes were all drilled from the lowest mine level and tested mineralization downdip of the south vein. Results included 4.24 m (true width) grading 1.39 per cent Cu, 1.33 g/t Au and 9.51 g/t Ag. The site has a 750 tpd mill and stockpiled ore. The company began design work to upgrade the tailings storage facility and obtain permits to process the stockpiled ore and move towards a mine restart.
In the West Kootenay, Taranis Resources Inc. continued exploring the Thor property for gold and stratiform base metals, drilling two holes at the Great Northern zone.
Taranis also continued sampling and worked on obtaining a bulk sample permit. Affinity Metals Corp. continued drilling the Regal property on its Allco claims into the fall, with a drill program of more than 3,000 m. The team is targeting Ag-Pb-Zn mineralization in quartz veins and breccias along a regional northwest-southeast fault and drilling on airborne geophysical targets surrounding old workings in the area.
Klondike Silver Corp. continued underground drilling at the Silvana project early in the year, but suspended operations in April, due to COVID-19, after completing 29 m of a planned 80 m drift to the next drill station. Results from drilling included 0.8 m grading 71.73 g/t Ag, 1.09 per cent Pb and 0.21 per cent Zn.
Rokmaster Resources Corp. optioned the Revel Ridge (J&L) property and began underground drilling late in the year to test Au-Ag extensions beyond the historical mine workings and drill sites. The company released a NI43-101 report early in the year and completed preliminary metallurgical test work. The property consists of underground workings and several zones that were historically mined, with previous life of mine average head grades of approximately 6.4 g/t Au, 69.8 g/t Ag, 2.2 per cent Pb and 3.6 per cent Zn.
Industrial mineral projects
Phosphate exploration continued in the southeast. High Brix Manufacturing Inc. completed an additional 1000 t bulk sample at its Cro project, for testing as fertilizer.
Teck Coal Ltd. continued exploration drilling in active pits at the Fording River, Greenhills, Elkview and Line Creek mines and continued exploration in their expansion areas.
Additional coal projects are also in various stages of environmental assessment. Environmental baseline work continued at the Michel Coal project (North Coal Limited) and at Crown Mountain (Jameson Resources Limited). Both projects also continued design studies on treatment options to comply with water quality guidelines. Jameson also released a bankable feasibility study for Crown Mountain, outlining 1.7 Mty of saleable coal and 57.5 Mt over a mine life of 15 years.
South Central and Southwest Regions
Precious metal projects
After pausing to develop COVID-19 protocols, Osisko Gold Royalties Ltd. began drilling in existing resource and new areas of the Cariboo Gold project, following up on earlier results. The company planned about 40,000 m of drilling and, in October, to increase the number of rigs from three to eight and place the project in a new company (Osisko Development Corp.). To date, the highest grade intersection is 6,530 g/t Au along 0.50 m. The company started a bulk sample at Cow Mountain using underground access from the Bonanza Ledge Access Road.
The project is in the early engagement phase of a provincial environmental assessment. Osisko updated the project description in 2020 with an increase in proposed average production rate from 4,000 tpd to 4,750 tpd and a mine life of up to 15 years. Before the most recent drilling, Measured and Indicated resources were 19.531 Mt grading 4.7 g/t, with Inferred resources of 19.252 Mt grading 4.0 g/t. The smaller Bonanza Ledge II mine is in development and expected to produce in 2021 with a two-year mine plan. In an early spring round of drilling at FG, Kore Mining Ltd. reported intersections of 32 m of 3.0 g/t Au near surface, 11.0 m of 10.0 g/t Au starting at 44 m downhole and a deeper intersection of 52.5 m of 1.1 g/t Au. The company also intersected 10 m of 3.9 g/t Au below the existing resource. Drilling resumed in July for an additional 5,000 m (planned). Kore increased its land holdings in the area to 99,990 ha. Talisker Resources Ltd.’s 17,000 m drill program at Bralorne intersected high-grade gold veins in the Bralorne mine area. Highlights include 102 g/t Au along 0.5 m within 30.98 g/t along 1.7 m. The current drilling is part of a larger project to update the resource estimate. Infrastructure at the site includes a tailing storage facility, a water treatment plant and mining equipment. A 100 tpd mill was disassembled but the building was left in place. Current Measured and Indicated resources are 211,000 tons at 0.341 oz/t Au, with a further 317,000 tons 0.231 oz/t in the Inferred category. Talisker has expanded its land holdings in the Bridge River camp by acquiring neighbouring properties. Talisker also has a $3.5 million regional exploration program, the Spences Bridge Gold project, that follows up on reconnaissance geochemical sampling in 2019. The company holds tenures on approximately 194,000 ha of a northwesttrending belt of mainly Spences Bridge Group (Cretaceous) volcanic rocks with epithermal precious metals targets. Spanish Mountain Gold Ltd. started geotechnical drilling and test pits at Spanish Mountain in August. Exploration drilling was scheduled for the fall to expand the existing resource at the Main Zone. The company withdrew the project from provincial environmental assessment at the end of 2019 in anticipation of adjustments to the project’s scope and new regulations. Westhaven Gold Corp. planned at least 30,000 m of diamond drilling at Shovelnose, with targets outside and within the South Zone area, the main focus since a 2018 discovery of highergrade epithermal Au mineralization than was previously known on the property. An outcrop discovery, the Franz vein zone, about 2.8 km from the South Zone returned a grab sample of 51.10 g/t Au, 165.00 g/t Ag. Initial drilling at the Franz zone returned 7.78 m grading 14.84 g/t Au and 39.40 g/t Ag. Freeform Capital Partners Inc. entered into an agreement with Bayshore Minerals Incorporated, which holds the Elk Gold Project, with Freeform and Bayshore being renamed the Gold Mountain Mining Corporation. Freeform updated the resource estimate and commissioned a preliminary economic assessment. Measured and Indicated resources of 2,699,000 t at 5.22 g/t Au and 9.23 g/t Ag and Inferred 454,000 t 6.40 g/t Au and 14.17 g/t Ag support a conceptual 10-year 70,000 tpy mine. In the Zeballos gold camp, Privateer Gold Inc. began a fourth year of drilling at Surespan Gold, planning approximately 4,000 m. They also reported a soil geochemical survey. Privateer has consolidated Crown grants and mineral tenures covering several past producers in the historical camp.
Tempus Resources Limited had drilled 5,000 m at Blackdome by early October. They planned to move to the Elizabeth area for a planned 6,000 m upon receiving a permit. Tempus acquired the two linked properties as the Blackdome-Elizabeth gold project in 2019. Blackdome is a past gold producer; Elizabeth is a gold vein prospect 30 km south.
Eagle Plains Resources Ltd. mobilized for a planned 1,500 m, five- to seven-hole drill program at the Donna project following a 211 km airborne magnetic and radiometric survey. Targets include near surface intrusion-related Au at a gold-in-soil anomaly and in the Morgan Mine area. Eagle Plains will also test for evidence of deeper porphyry style mineralization. Omineca Mining and Metals Ltd. has expanded its Wingdam placer gold project to include hard rock targets with about 8,000 m of drilling to test suspected nearby bedrock sources of placer gold. They are also dewatering workings and plan to resume underground recovery of placer gold.
Cu-Mo, Cu-Au-Ag, Mo (porphyry) projects
Kodiak Copper Corp. drilled its MPD property following positive late 2019 results targeting mineralization below the approximate 200 m depth of historical exploration. Initial 2020 results included 282 m of 0.70 per cent Cu and 0.49 g/t Au (from 263 to 545 m in one hole) encouraging investment by Teck Resources Limited and plans for the program to continue into the fall and winter. The property is a consolidation of the Man-Prime and Dillard properties. GSP Resource Corp. started drilling at the Alwin Mine project. The company reported completing eight shallow holes targeting replacement Ag-Au-Cu mineralization like that mined historically at Alwin, and starting drilling aimed at a deeper porphyry Cu target.
At the Woodjam project, Consolidated Woodjam Copper Corp. drilled to test gold content and grade continuity between holes at the Deerhorn Cu-Au zone, an area with inferred resources. Pacific Empire Minerals Corp. drilled 1,049 m in 10 reverse circulation holes at Worldstock, an early-stage porphyry Cu-Au target. At relatively low cost, the team explored using a drill rig mounted on tracks to test sites along existing roads. Sego Resources Inc. returned to the Miner Mountain porphyry Cu-Au project with drilling and trenching. Notable early results included 30 m of 1.02 g/t Au in trench sampling at the Southern Gold zone, a new target. Additional mapping and trenching may be followed by drilling late in the year. Sego completed 1,213 m of drilling in their Granby-Cuba area in the summer. New Gold Inc. continued exploration at New Afton, both underground and on the Cherry Creek trend to the west of mining operations. New Gold indicated its intention to begin drilling, potentially at more than 100 sites. Copper Mountain Mining Corporation tested the depth of mineralization at the New Ingerbelle pit at Copper Mountain with two holes. One returned 585 m grading 0.33 per cent Cu, 0.21 g/t Au and 0.45 g/t Ag; the other, 120 m grading 0.69 per cent Cu, 0.37 g/t Au and 1.55 g/t Ag. New Ingerbelle reserves were added to Copper Mountain’s mine plan in 2019. The mine now has a 31-year projected life. At Mount Polley, Imperial Metals Corporation conducted an IP survey over the mine site to guide interpretation of a survey conducted to the northwest in 2019. Drilling was planned for fall and winter. Mount Polley suspended mining in 2019 pending higher copper prices. Current reserves would sustain six to seven years of mining at previous rates. Happy Creek Minerals Ltd. carried out hyperspectral mineral and alteration studies at its Rateria-West Valley project. Drilling was planned for the fall. Part of EnGold Mines Ltd.’s exploration at the Lac La Hache property included a hole testing porphyry mineralization at the Ann North prospect several kilometres southeast of the Spout and G1 skarn targets (also drilled). The deep hole encountered sub economic grades, but potassic alteration consistent with a porphyry model. Farther east, EnGold reported discovering gold in outcrop at their Aurizon West zone. Copper King Explorations Ltd. drilled at its Copper King property, a porphyry Cu Au prospect near a past (1930s) producer in rocks of the Iron Mask batholith.
Base and precious metal projects
Nyrstar Myra Falls Ltd.’s parent company is majority owned by a private trading company, Trafigura Group Pte. Nearmine exploration at Myra Falls has been ongoing for several years and continued in 2020, including more than 10,000 m of underground exploration drilling, VTEM geophysics, and planned surface drilling. Taseko Mines Limited released an updated feasibility study on its Yellowhead (formerly Harper Creek) project. The company plans to restart the terminated environmental assessment of the project. The study included updated Proven and Probable reserves of 817 Mt grading 0.28 per cent Cu, 0.030 g/t Au and 1.3 g/t Ag. Yellowhead is a proposed 90,000 tpd open-pit operation with a 25-year life. EnGold Mines Ltd.’s drilling at Lac La Hache intersected magnetitechalcopyrite mineralization at the G-1 zone, a 2017 discovery of Cu-magnetite- Au-Ag skarn mineralization about 2 km southeast of the Spout copper deposit, also a Cu-Au-magnetite skarn. Highlight initial results included 22.4 m grading 1.29 per cent Cu, 0.11 g/t Au, 1.76 g/t Ag and 24.71 per cent Fe.
Nicola Mining Inc. reported a resource estimate and metallurgical testing for the South dump and Portal area dump at the New Craigmont project (Inferred 18.7 Mt grading 0.13 per cent Cu).
Happy Creek Minerals Ltd. is drilling at the Fox Tungsten property. The planned eight-hole program will step out from previous intersections, including 5 m of 1.0 per cent WO3 and 6.3 m 0.43 per cent WO3. Another hole will test a recent discovery of scheelite several km from the existing Ridley Creek resource area.
Public Geoscience 2020
The British Columbia Geological Survey (BCGS) creates and disseminates public geoscience to guide societal decisions, connecting government with the minerals industry and local communities. Applied research activities are undertaken by a range of technical experts using established and emerging technologies, to assess the geological evolution and mineral resources of the province. Value is added to BCGS programs through extensive collaboration with federal, provincial and territorial geoscience agencies and other national and international organizations. BCGS provides freely accessible reports, maps and databases via MapPlace 2, the BCGS geospatial web service. The wide array of information, services and products provided by BCGS supports effective mineral exploration, sound land use management and responsible governance thus informing decisions that balance the economy, the environment and community interests. The survey is the oldest scientific organization in British Columbia, having celebrated 125 years of public service in 2020. BCGS plans for the 2020 field season were drastically changed by the pandemic; the “lockdown” starting in March coincided with the normal period of fieldwork planning. Following an initial decision to suspend multi-year mapping programs in the Golden Triangle and Hogem batholith, field excursions across the more southern parts of the province were also cancelled in recognition of pandemic-related concerns of First Nations and other local communities. Limited fieldwork was undertaken in August on Vancouver Island in accordance with WorkSafe BC guidance. Despite the absence of major field programs, BCGS staff have remained busy throughout 2020 with desk-based and analytical work to support the mineral exploration community and land use planning initiatives within the provincial government. The sole 2020 field project was to assess the northerly extent and geochemical characteristics of prospective Neogene plutons on northern Vancouver Island. In the office, ongoing map compilations continue to consolidate knowledge from recent field mapping and older published maps for the digital provincial database and selected map publications. Compilation efforts include significant swaths of northwest British Columbia, focusing on areas near Dease Lake, Decar, Polaris, the southern Nicola Arc, southern Quesnellia and Johanson Lake. An extensive program of laboratory analysis, using recently collected and archived samples, continues to build geoscience knowledge across a range of projects and initiatives. Early October saw the successful delivery of an online workshop, “Cordilleran Geoscience: a 2020 Perspective.” Planned in collaboration with the Geological Survey of Canada, the Yukon Geological Survey and the Pacific Section of the Geological Association of Canada and comprising 10 presentations, the meeting connected with more than 250 delegates.
Fieldwork undertaken on southern Vancouver Island in August supported an ongoing commitment to innovation and technology development at BCGS. Selected field locations hosted trials of mercury detection technology, which can measure miniscule variations in atmospheric concentrations to detect buried ore deposits. Similarly, work progresses on developing technology and software that enable the rapid capture of geophysical information using drones.
Mineral potential assessment is now a renewed focus for the survey, with an emphasis on supporting government and stakeholders in land-use planning and policy. BCGS pioneered mineral potential assessment in Canada during the early 1990s, but the more recent development of innovative analytical techniques and machine learning technology offers the opportunity to update methods and greatly improve results. The development of digital data sources and applications such as MapPlace have been a focus of recent activity and place the survey in a strong position to apply these new analytical techniques. Boosted by the recruitment of Dr. Evan Orovan, an economic geologist specializing in minerals systems, the survey is now developing innovative approaches that will be rolled out to re-assess mineral potential across the province in a multi year, phased project. The BCGS houses, maintains and regularly updates databases including MINFILE, COALFILE, Property File, and the Assessment Reports Indexing System (ARIS). MINFILE documents more than 15,000 metallic mineral, industrial mineral and coal occurrences. COALFILE includes a collection of 1,030 coal assessment reports. Property File has more than 84,000 reports and maps documenting exploration activity in British Columbia since the late 1800s. ARIS has more than 38,200 mineral exploration assessment reports. Traditionally, data in assessment reports have been embedded in non-digital electronic files (e.g., .PDF) making them difficult to extract and use. The BCGS has embarked on a program to encourage digital submission of ARIS data using digital data files such as spreadsheets, databases, maps and grids. Explorationists will benefit because digital data can be easily retrieved, integrated and recast for specific needs. Digital submission will also enable the Survey to better maintain province-wide databases and create derivative products that use past results to guide future exploration. The assessment report-sourced surface sediment geochemistry (ARSSG) website now has digital data captured from more than 108,000 samples and includes more than 4.3 million determinations from 391 assessment reports. In addition to continued work capturing geochemical data, drill-hole data and footprints for geophysical surveys are also being collected from assessment reports.
The BCGS continues to maintain geochemical databases with multi- element analyses from rock, till, stream- and lake-sediment, water and coal ash samples.
The databases include more than five million determinations from about 86,000 samples. A compilation of more than 150,000 ice-flow indicators digitally captured from published and unpublished surficial geology, terrain, glacial features and bedrock geology maps is available. In addition, a new geochronological database is scheduled to be launched in late 2020, complementing regular updates to published lithogeochemical and regional geochemistry databases. The BCGS offers province-wide integrated digital coverage of bedrock geology, including all details from compilation of field mapping at scales from 1:50,000 to 1:250,000 and incorporating regular updates from field mapping. The British Columbia Geological Survey is a government organization representing the province. Similarly, the Geological Survey of Canada is a government organization representing the country. Geoscience BC (GBC) is a not-for-profit, non-government organization funded by provincial government grants. GBC supports mineral and oil and gas investment in British Columbia through the funding and delivery of geoscience projects contracted to third parties. Major projects include significant geophysical and geochemical surveys and grants to universities and consultants for targeted geoscience projects submitted in response to requests for proposals. GBC 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 industry.