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Review of Operations 1947-1997

 

Article from Exploration in British Columbia 1997, pages 65-71
by A.F. Wilcox, P.Geo.

 

SUMMARY

The assessment report system was introduced in 1947 by the government of British Columbia to archive information collected by the mineral exploration industry so that it could be used later by prospectors and exploration companies to facilitate the discovery of new mines. This geoscientific data not only is useful to the mineral industry, it also plays a role in mineral resource assessments by the government.

 

Results of mineral and placer exploration and development programs are submitted to the Ministry in compliance with the Mineral Tenure Act and Regulations.

 

The assessment report library contains over 25,400 reports describing exploration work costing over $825 million dollars. Since 1980 an average of 942 reports are submitted annually. The number of assessment reports submitted in 1997 totalled 536 with declared costs of $56,780,342, a 7.5% increase in expenditures over year 1996. Drilling accounted for 67% of the expenditures with the remainder of work consisting of geochemical sampling, geophysical surveys, geological mapping, physical work and prospecting.

 

Assessment work, which is required for the maintenance of mineral claim tenure, comprises only a portion of the overall mineral exploration in the province. It has been estimated that only about 40% of the total exploration expenditures is submitted in assessment reports and 25% is applied to claims.

 

INTRODUCTION

In compliance with the Mineral Tenure Act Regulations, results of mineral exploration programs conducted on mineral claims in British Columbia are submitted to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. These assessment reports contain information on geology, geophysics, geochemistry, drilling, prospecting and physical work. This information is valuable for mineral exploration, research studies, land use planning and resource management. The British Columbia Geological Survey manages and maintains a library of over 25,400 mineral Assessment Reports dating from 1947 describing exploration work costing over 825 million dollars have been submitted. Reports can be viewed at provincial government offices or purchased (on microfiche or paper) after the expiration of the confidential period (at least one year. An outline of the history of the administration of the assessment report system is presented in Table 1.

 

During the 1959-60 period about 7000 individuals and 300 companies held Free Miners Certificates (FMC) annually. In the late 1960’s and 1970’s and subsequent years the number of FMC increased to about 10 000 and 1000 respectively. In any one year 200 to 400 companies and individuals have submitted assessment reports.

 

Over one hundred visitors per month view exploration data in the Vancouver regional office. Exact viewing statistics for other offices are not kept or easily assembled. Before the start of the field season each year the Resource Centre in Victoria is heavily utilized by the staff geologists preparing for the field. Over four hundred requests for information have been received by the assessment report geologist since the beginning of this fiscal year. A significant number of requests are also handled by the Mineral Titles staff in Vancouver.

 

In 1983 out of approximately 1700 questionnaires mailed to explorationists, 650 were completed and returned (some under protest); about 80% to 85% of the returns overlapped assessment reports already submitted and the remaining contained new information, although without substantiation of a technical report.

 

Some of the earlier statistics and subsequent changes to our publications were based on about 50 responses to 300 questionnaires soliciting opinions from explorationists regarding government publications.

 

The statistics used in this report cover assessment reports approved during the time frame November 1st to October 31st

 

the following year and may actually reflect work carried out in the previous year.

 

PORTABLE ASSESSMENT CREDIT (PAC)

The PAC accounting system was started in 1977 to allow free miners and companies to bank the excess expenditures as credits to be applied in future exploration programs. Approved value in excess of that required to be applied to the claims, will be credited in a PAC account to the registered owner/operator as designated on the Statement of Work. If desired by the owner or operator, PAC credits may be used for assessment report credit. Upon submission of an assessment report, up to 30 per cent of the value approved may be withdrawn from the owner’s or operator’s PAC account and added to the work value to make up the total value of work requested. During the first year of operation, 101 companies had 275 transactions for a credit of almost 2.5 million dollars. Today there are 660 active companies and 1657 inactive companies (no transactions within the last five years). Over 300 million dollars has been credited to PAC and only 68.5 million dollars has been removed from PAC to extend title. Four million dollars has been removed from PAC to extend title on claims that have had active exploration programs for over 10 years.

 

Table 1. History of Mineral Industry Assessment Reports in British Columbia
1947 Assessment Report (AR) system introduced; technical content only checked and processed by examining geologist; all administration conducted by Mineral Titles staff.
1958 Minister of Mines Annual Report (MMAR) includes a rudimentary index of assessment reports.
1966 MMAR includes tabulated results from a questionnaire mailed to mining companies to obtain additional information on exploration activity in the Province.
1969 Traditional MMAR split into two volumes. Geology, Exploration and Mining (GEM) and Minister of Mines and Petroleum Resources Annual Report; Assessment Report Index published as separate brochure.
1975 GEM split into three volumes due to increasing amount of data; the Exploration volume was based entirely on assessment reports and questionnaires compiled solely by the Resource Data and Analysis Section of the Department.
1977 Revised Mineral Act Regulations proclaimed, including a section on reporting assessment work and portable assessment credit (PAC).
1981 Assessment Report Index computer file developed on) IBM mainframe (programming in Mark IV).
1983 First attempt at computer assisted production of Exploration 1981 volume (an enhanced AR Index).
1984 AR Index downloaded from IBM mainframe to NTS 585 minicomputer (programming in COBOL).
1985 Steps taken to overcome the backlog of data processing and distribution:
  • the questionnaire discontinued as inefficient way to assemble data.
  • a Title Page and Summary form for authors introduced for assessment reports, to overcome chronic omissions of required data, and provide up-front summaries for the Exploration volume1.
  • 1980 to be the last manually produced volume, and last to include data from questionnaires; 1985 volume to be organized in Part A, exploration overview, Part B, description of selected properties; and Part C, summaries of assessment reports.
  • data processing and compilation of assessment report summaries developed on VAX 780 (programming in MANTIS).
1987 New assessment reports and previously filmed aperture cards microfilmed and microfiche distributed to 19 mining division and 6 geological survey offices throughout the Province, to facilitate access by industry andpublic.
1988

Computerized operations of the Assessment Report Indexing System (ARIS) began in February, 1988. Revised Mineral Tenure Act proclaimed, specifying assessment report requirements2; Part C of the old

 

Mineral Act Regulations governing assessment reports not changed.

1989 Summaries of assessment reports in Exploration Part C discontinued (in favour of Assessment Report Index), due to large volume of data, rising operating costs, and duplication of the Assessment Report Index.
1990 Approved 20 000 th Assessment Report in June.
1996 Transpose the ARIS environment from the VAX to a personal computer-based LAN system. New ARIS operational in May saving $20,000 per year in operating costs.

1 Previously, cover sheets were completed by the assessment report examining geologist.
2 The previous Mineral Act was vague on the subject of assessment reports.

 


EXPLORATION EXPENDITURES AND ASSESSMENT REPORT COSTS

The total exploration expenditures always exceed the cost of work claimed in assessment reports because British Columbia does not require complete disclosure of all exploration work performed. For the last twenty years, typically about 40 per cent of the total expenditures have been filed as assessment credit (see Table 2).

 

"Grassroots" exploration includes geological, geophysical, geochemical, drilling, prospecting surveys, surface cuts and some underground work but does not include work done at operating mine sites.

 

It is interesting to note that only a portion of exploration expenditures are credited to extension of claim tenure. Cash paid in lieu of work credits is minimal, usually less than 5% of the lode and placer work credits. Since 1974, more value was credited to assessment reports than applied to claims. This may possibly be attributed to the establishment of the Portable Assessment Credit accounts.

 

The annual expenditures spent on grassroots exploration shown in Table 2 and Figure 1 are derived from replies by industry to annual questionnaires on exploration for metallic and industrial minerals on undeclared and declared mines and in recent years from statistics gathered by the BC Geological Survey. The value applied to claims; reported in Table 2 is taken from column K of the Statement of Work. Value submitted and approved in assessment reports and direct revenue generated by value applied to claims is reported on column M of the Statement of Work.

 

Prior to 1988 recording fees were set at 5% of the value applied to the claims. When the Mineral Tenure Act was proclaimed in 1988 the filing fees for a claim were changed to $10 per unit per year. Accurate statistics have not been recorded by the BC Geological Survey. However, the filing fee column shown in Table 2 has been calculated at 5 % prior to 1998 and 8 % after. Further revenue is generated by free miners licenses and costs associated with staking additional claim units.

 

Table 2. Annual Exploration Expenditures and Assessment Report Claims
Year Grassroots Expenditures
(million $)
Value applied to Claims
(million $)
Value of Assessment reports
(million $)
Filing Fees
(000 $)
1969 44.4 8.9 2.1 445
1970 46.0 11.9 4.4 595
1971 39.1 10.7 3.8 535
1972 38.2 9.8 4.1 490
1973 37.3 12.9 4.6 645
1974 21.4 4.8 5.9 240
1975 19.2 3.9 8.5 195
1976 29.0 3.8 7.1 190
1977 22.5 4.0 7.6 200
1978 29.6 6.6 11.1 330
1979 49.8 7.6 8.6 380
1980 102.6 14.1 58.2 705
1981 97.3 24.8 45.8 1240
1982 36.4 23.0 21.4 1150
1983 47.7 17.5 25.5 875
1984 76.7 27.9 27.2 1395
1985 55.9 38.0 25.7 1900
1986 53.6 21.4 28.7 1070
1987 116.8 32.5 42.9 1625
1988 196.8 36.7 79.0 2936
1989 150.0 35.7 60.9 2856
1990 143.0 35.0 58.4 2800
1991 87.0 35.0 74.4 2800
1992 72.0 20.6 35.6 1648
1993 66.0 9.4 15.0 752
1994 85.0 11.8 19.9 944
1995 83.0 11.4 27.1 912
1996 100.0 12.6 49.3 1008
Totals: 1946.3 492.3 762.8 30861

 

 


Figure 1. British Columbia Expenditures and Assessment Work

 

Direct revenue to the Province is substantial. A significant part of the total exploration expenditures ($100 million) goes directly to communities as suppliers of secondary industry products such as expediting services and sub-contractors of goods and services. As well, in the last 10 years over 16.5 million dollars has been paid in recording fees.

 

Figure 1 illustrates the exploration expenditures and the value of the exploration programs as recorded in the assessment reports. The graph indicates the amount applied in assessment reports follows the same trend as the total amount expended on exploration programs.

 

VALUE OF ASSESSMENT REPORTS

Over twenty four thousand (24,4434) assessment reports have been approved since 1947.These assessment reports have a cumulative value of over eight hundred and twenty million dollars as shown in Table 3. The figures for 1996-97 are incomplete and represent only a portion of the work and value submitted. Not all assessment reports for those year have been received or processed. Industry has up to a full year to submit an assessment report.

 

 

Table 3. Value of Assessment Reports
Year Number of Assessment Reports Cumulative Value
(millions $)
1947/58 247 - *
1959 43 -
1960 40 -
1961 53 -
1962 78 -
1963 70 -
1964 49 -
1965 114 -
1966 153 -
1967 289 N/A
1968 288 5.0 (estimated)
1969 569 7.1
1970 622 11.5
1971 583 15.3
1972 637 19.4
1973 698 24.0
1974 456 29.9
1975 416 38.4
1976 439 45.5
1977 427 53.1
1978 522 64.2
1979 592 72.8
1980 1420 131.0
1981 1162 176.8
1982 725 198.2
1983 1231 223.7
1984 957 250.9
1985 905 276.6
1986 1011 305.3
1987 1181 348.2
1988 1403 427.2
1989 1233 488.1
1990 1199 546.5
1991 1304 620.9
1992 616 656.5
1993 478 671.5
1994 490 691.4
1995 540 718.5
1996 577* 771.0
1997 536* 827.8
Total: 24,434 827.8

* incomplete statistic


Assessment Reports were first mentioned in the 1958 Minister of Mines Annual Report, where the number (247) of assessment reports received between 1947 and 1958 was presented in a rudimentary index format. Since 1959, the number of reports approved has been published annually. The annually approved value of reports statistics began in 1969; prior to that there was only an estimate of total value of the assessment reports submitted.

 

SUMMARY OF 1997 STATISTICS

In recent years (1980-1997) an average of 942 reports are submitted annually (see Figure 2). The number of assessment reports submitted in 1997 totalled 536 with declared costs of $56,780,342, a 7.5% increase in expenditures over year 1996. Drilling accounted for 67% of the expenditures (see Figure 3).


Figure 2. Number of Reports Approved Annually

 

From 1959 to 1990 the number of assessment reports received and approved shows a steady growth. This growth peaked in 1991 and since that time has dropped to a steady rate of about 550 reports being received annually. This is the same levels as in the mid 1970s. The peak that occurred in 1980 and 1981 is due to a change in the way the assessment report statistics were gathered. He number of reports filed in 1980 and 1981 will be lower but still more than 1979 or 1982 values.


Figure 3. Value of Exploration by Work Type

 

Average exploration project costs (Table 4) are based on reports with clearly apportioned cost statements including labour and consulting, room and board, transport, instrument and equipment rentals, camp supplies, analyses, report preparation, and direct administration and management of the project. These figures are to be used as a guideline only and may vary depending upon working conditions and accessibility to the exploration project.

 

The costs for 1997 are similar to 1996 (Table 4), although some costs went down which might reflect the nature of the exploration projects in that particular year or a more competitive business climate.

Table 4. Average Exploration Project Costs, for 1996 and 1997
($ per unit of work)
TYPE OF WORK 1997 1996
Geological mapping 13/ha 15/ha
Mag./E.M. airborne 36/km 36/km
Magnetic, ground 319/km 302/km
EM, ground 521/km 357/km
Induced Polarization 1 247/km 1 327/km
Self potential 525/km 760/km
Soils 34/sample 39/sample
Stream sediments 92/sample 86/sample
Rock chips 64/sample 74/sample
Sampling-assaying 27/sample 30/sample
Drilling, core 121/m 123/m
Drilling, non-core 85/m 91/m
Prospecting 12/ha 12/ha
Line cutting, grid 538/km 523/km
Trenching 63/m 57/m


The main exploration survey costs are compared with various 1:250,000 NTS (National Topographic System) mapsheets in Table 5. It is clear that the assessment costs are spent in all areas of the province and no one area clearly dominates. A wide variety of types of work were completed, although only limited distances of tunnelling and road construction were completed and claimed for assessment credit.

 

PRODUCTS

In compliance with the Mineral Tenure Act Regulations, results of mineral exploration programs conducted on mineral claims in British Columbia are submitted to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources. These assessment reports contain information on geology, geophysics, geochemistry, drilling, prospecting and physical work. This information is valuable for mineral exploration, research studies, land use planning and resource management. The British Columbia Geological Survey manages and maintains a library of over 25,400 mineral Assessment Reports dating from 1947. Reports can be viewed at provincial government offices or purchased (on microfiche or paper) after the expiration of the confidential period (at least one year).

 

The Assessment Report Indexing System (ARIS) was designed to assist the BC Geological Survey in the administration of Assessment Reports and also provides the Assessment Report Index to clients. Assessment reports are sorted by National Topographic System (NTS) mapsheet. For each approved, non-confidential assessment report, the Index includes latitude, longitude, Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinates, claim names, operator, author, type of work report and report year. In digital format the Index also includes the following information: commodities searched for, detailed work data, and keywords.

 

 

Table 5. Summary of Assessment Work, 1997

NTS

No. of
Assessment
Reports

Value
$

Geological
(ha)

Geophysical

Geochem.
No. of
Samples

Drilling

Prospecting
(ha)

Trenching
(m)

Access
Roads
(km)

Line/grid
(km)

Tunnelling
(m)

Airborne
(km)

Ground
(km)

Core
(m)

Non-core
(m)

82/83

168

6 302 480

55 880

2 086

1 142

31 530

27 947

1 500

7 210

1 844

17

450

--

92/102

146

16 815 983

36 860

4 394

1 070

127 266

98 365

4 416

9 390

3 651

17

687

306

93

98

9 761 598

30 965

3 492

2 478

41 240

40 425

1 686

12 650

9 932

3

739

--

94

33

4 067 587

10 376

491

117

5 958

9 866

--

855

800

9

49

--

103

31

13 227 906

17 850

4 796

618

32 411

68 722

--

1 450

1 638

--

66

103

104/114

74

6 604 788

44 750

5 733

2 197

13 968

21 324

615

5 025

923

--

187

--


The Assessment Report Index is published in hard copy and digital format. The digital data is organized as a series of flat ASCII files. A program, called ARISTRAN, converts the data to .dbf format (dBASE) and adds QuikMap parameters for plotting. The digital files can also be used with a variety of commercial software programs.

All mineral assessment report products are available through our agent:

 

Association for Mineral Exporation British Columbia (AME BC)
Suite 800 - 889 West Pender Street
Vancouver, BC  V6C 3B2

Phone: 604.689.5271
Fax: 604.681.2363
Email: info@amebc.ca

Web: http://www.amebc.ca
 

The ARIS home page on the BC Geological Survey's web page (http://www.empr.gov.bc.ca/MINING/GEOSCIENCE/ARIS/Pages/default.aspx) contains some of the above listed products which can be downloaded for free. The completed data on diskettes is available from the download free data section. The complete assessment report index maps are on-line and a monthly update of new assessment reports that are off-confidential (assessment report index) is posted regularly.

 

REFERENCES

Kalnins, T.E. and Wilcox, A.F. (1989): Assessment Reports - A Source of Valuable Information; in Exploration in British
    Columbia 1989, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, pages 237-240.

Kalnins, T.E. and Wilcox, A.F. (1990): Assessment Reports a Source of Valuable Current & Historic Mineral Exploration
    Data; in Exploration in British Columbia 1990, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
    pages 175-178.

Kalnins, T.E. and Wilcox, A.F. (1991): Assessment Reports a Source of Valuable Current & Historic Mineral Exploration
    Data; in Exploration in British Columbia 1991, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
    pages 149-152.

Kalnins, T.E. and Wilcox, A.F. (1992): Assessment Reports a Source of Valuable Current & Historic Mineral Exploration
    Data; in Exploration in British Columbia 1992, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
    pages 133-136.

Kalnins, T.E. and Wilcox, A.F. (1993): Assessment Reports a Source of Valuable Current & Historic Mineral Exploration
    Data; in Exploration in British Columbia 1993, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
    pages 61-64.

Kalnins, T.E. and Wilcox, A.F. (1994): Assessment Reports a Source of Valuable Current & Historic Mineral Exploration
    Data; in Exploration in British Columbia 1994, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
    pages 73-75.

Kalnins, T.E., Wilcox, A.F. et al. (1994): ARIS - A Mineral Assessment Report Database for the Public; in Proceedings of
    the 4th International Conference on Geoscience Information GEOINFO IV Ottawa, Canada June 24-29, 1990, Geological 
    
  
Survey of Canada, Open File 2315 volume II, pages 268-276.

Schroeter, T.G. (1997) British Columbia Mining, Development and Exploration Review 1996 Overview; British Columbia
    Ministry of Employment and Investment
, Information Circular 1997-1

Wilcox, A.F. and Kalnins, T.E. (1995): Assessment Reports a Source of Valuable Current & Historic Mineral Exploration
    Data; in Exploration in British Columbia 1995, British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources,
    pages 83-85.