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Mineral Exploration & Mining > Current Land Use > Valley Vision

Valley Vision | towards a comprehensive vision for the future of the Bulkley Valley

Mineral Exploration & Mining

Knowing how the land is currently being used can be insightful for creating a vision of a sustainable future.

On this page:

  • A History of Mining
  • Current Mining Activities
  • Proposals for the Future

A HISTORY OF MINING

The central Bulkley Valley has a history of mineral exploration and mining stretching back to at least 1905. Interesting trivia from some of the mine sites:

  • Cronin (Babine Range)
    Discovered in 1905 and developed starting in 1908. Production from 1917 to 1974 totaled 25,838 tonnes yielding 8,169,918 grams of silver, 8,772 grams of gold, 18,012 kilograms of cadmium, 10,394 kilograms of copper, 1,367,178 kilograms of lead and 1,517,881 kilograms of zinc.
    (Also see notes in Site Remediation below)
  • Hunter Basin, (Telkwa Mountains)
    In 1914 to 1915 about 37 tonnes of ore was shipped from a 7.7 metre shaft on the King claim and from open cuts on the Rainbow claim. In 1925 new crosscut adits and drifting continued on the King claim. 269 tonnes of sorted ore from King and Rainbow was finally shipped in 1940-1941. Another 24.5 tonnes from King was shipped in 1962. The combined total production was 15,563 grams gold, 1,153,483 grams silver and 44,356 kilograms copper.
  • Silver King (Headwaters of Driftwood Creek in the Babine Range)
    Between 1917 to 1927, 12 tonnes of ore were mined and produced 62 grams of gold, 41,865 grams of silver, 107 kilograms of copper, 3,490 kilograms of lead and 348 kilograms of zinc.
  • Duthie (SW slope of Hudson Bay Mountain)
    First discovered in 1922, mining from the ‘front end’ continued until 1930. From 1946 until 1954, a 136-tonne-per-day mill operated on the ‘back end’ or Breccia zone with lead and zinc concentrates being shipped to Trail. Over 72200 tonnes of ore was milled during this time.
    From 1984 through 1988, more than 3 600 metres of horizontal adit development of three levels was completed. A mill capable of producing 45 tonnes per day of flotation concentrates was in operation from 1984 until 1986. (see notes in Site Remediation below)
  • Telkwa Coal (Goathorn Creek)
    Telkwa’s website notes that the first Bulkley River bridge in Telkwa was built in 1909 to access the Telkwa Coal Mine. The Telkwa Coal claim operated continuously between 1944 and 1985 producing a total of 353 million kilograms of coal.

The above information came from the MINFILE database maintained by the BC Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. MINFILE, MapPlace and MEMPR’s comprehensive annual reports provide a publicly accessible database of exploration and mining back to 1874.

The following PDF files, generated from MINFILE, list a total of 148 mines, prospects and showings in the central Bulkley Valley. Links in the reports provide access to summary information, production reports, inventory reports and map location. (Click on the Latitude & Longitude to view the location. You may need to download Autodesk MapGuide. Get help. Hint: Improve viewing of locations by turning off the BCGS Geology Layers 2005.)

CURRENT MINING ACTIVITIES

EXPLORATION AND MINING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA 2009, produced by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (MEMPR), includes over 20 pages describing current exploration and mining in the Northwest Region of BC.

Producing Mines

Currently, there are no producing mines in the Bulkley Valley. However, the following NW mines receive some services from Bulkley Valley businesses and therefore have an impact on the local economy.

  • Huckleberry Mine is an open pit copper/molybdenum mine located approximately 86 kilometres southwest of Houston. The mine employs over 200 people. It started operations in 1997. MEMPR’s Exploration and Mining in British Columbia 2009 states that Huckleberry owners announced a two year extension of operations until 2012.
  • Kemess Mine is an open-pit copper and gold mine (Kemess South), located 280 km north of Smithers at the head of the Finlay River. The mine employs350 people in a fly-in / fly-out operation. In 2007/08, Northgate Minerals Corporation decided not to develop Kemess North as a result of the 2007 Environmental Review Panel’s recommendation that the project not be approved as proposed. Kemess South is expected to close in 2010.
  • Endako Molybdenum Mine reactivated a major expansion and modernization program in 2009. With the increased capacity to the new mill, the estimated mine life will is about 16 years.

Mine Development

  • Galore Creek is a mine site under development approximately 70 km west of Highway 37 and 150 km northeast of Stewart. The project is expected to create approximately 900 to 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and require approximately 500 direct employees during the operations phase. Additional contract employees will be required for camp operation, concentrate hauling, tailings dam expansion, mill relining, etc. Construction is expected to take four years and mining operations are planned for an additional 22 years at a production rate of 65,000 tonnes per day. In November 2007, NovaGold and Teck Cominco suspended construction activities at Galore Creek due to increasing capital costs and initiated studies to identify alternative development strategies. Mine description largely from Infomine.com
    Galore Creek Access Map

  • Red Chis copper-gold project holds a development certificate for an open pit mine 125 km beyond Bob Quinn.
  • KSM (Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell) gold-copper project is one of the five largest undeveloped gold resources in the world. It will be reviewed under the BC and Canada environmental assessment projects.
  • Kitsault molybdenum mine operated previously and may
    proceed under an Amendment to its current Mine Permit.

Exploration

Click on the thumbnail image below to see a map (117 KB) of active exploration during 2008 (Notice of Work provided to Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources).
Exploration Activity 2008

During 2009, exploration continues on two claims owned by Eagle Peak Resources Inc.

Site Remediation

Contaminated Site legislation makes operators and landowners liable for remediation of site contamination. (Learn more from the BC Land Remediation Section’s Contaminated Sites 101 ) The land owner can initiate remediation to address that liability or, in serious cases, the Ministry of Environment can order remediation. If the operator/owner is no longer in existence or unable to remediate the site, the government assumes responsibility.

Cronin Mine Contaminated Site
The Crown Land Restoration Branch of the Ministry of Agriculture and Lands annually ranks the risk of sites that government is responsible for. Currently (July 2009), there are 10 sites that pose highest potential risk to human health and the environment. One of these sites is the Cronin Mine, on the eastern edge of Babine Mountains Park. The site is undergoing a detailed sited investigation to determine the extent of contamination and remediation options.

Duthie Mine Contaminated Site
The old Duthie mine site is also contaminated but remediation is being undertaken voluntarily by the mine’s current owner Silver Standard Resources Inc. In 2003, the British Columbia Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation gave Silver Standard Resources a Mineral Exploration Citation for the work on the Duthie Mine property. From the TRCR website:

Silver Standard Resources is a small exploration company, which has been active in British Columbia for many years. As part of their portfolio of properties, they own the Duthie Mine, a historic, small underground mine that produced intermittently over 100,000 tonnes of acid generating tailings. These tailings were largely unconfined and had spread over a large area.
Silver Standard has excavated and moved these tailings to a constructed containment area and is currently designing a cover to prevent leaching of acid and metals. In the interim, they have constructed ditches upslope of the tailings to divert drainage from entering the impoundment, and have constructed a collector ditch to direct all contaminated drainage to a passive water treatment area. To compliment their work, the company has a comprehensive water-sampling program that is monitoring the improvements to downstream water quality. The work to date has been very costly for this small exploration company, but it believes that sound environmental stewardship is important for today’s mining industry.

Environmental Assessments

After the exploration stage, mine development typically requires an environmental assessment by the BC Environmental Assessment Office. The following NW projects are listed on the Environmental Assessment Office e-PIC site:

The Environmental Assessment Office lists the following project as withdrawn from the EA Process:

  • Telkwa Coal Project EAO link
    Manalta (now Luscar Ltd.) applied for project approval but in March 2000, Luscar announced that it will not proceed with development of Telkwa Coal.

Other Proposed Activities

Telkwa Coalbed Methane
In response to a 2003 call for proposals to develop coalbed gas resources near Telkwa, Outrider Energy and Norwest Corporation received first rights to explore and develop the resource. In January 2007, Outrider withdrew its participation in the CBM project. Links:


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