This is the twenty-second edition of Exploration in British Columbia, a volume dedicated to providing a review of the past year's mineral industry activity. For the first time this volume is being published on the world wide web, as well as the more conventional hard copy version.
During 1996 British Columbia exploration activity for metals was primarily concentrated in the north and central parts of the province targeted at porphyry, vein and sedex deposits such as Prosperity, Bronson Slope, Red Mountain, Akie, Golden Bear, Taurus, Specogna, Polaris-Taku, Hearne Hill, Mac, Lorraine, JD, Tsacha and Clone. Three large, open-pit, porphyry-type deposits (Kemess South, Huckleberry and Mount Polley) were in construction phase, with estimated capital costs totalling approximately $650 million. Fourteen metal mines were operating in the province during the year. Four metal mines closed (Nickel Plate, Similco, Premier and Goldstream); there were no new mine openings. Clean coal production from eight mines in 1996 increased from 1995 as many mines recently completed major expansions and were fine tuning long-term mine plans.
Solid mineral production in British Columbia for 1996 is estimated at $3.06 billion, a 12% decrease from 1995. Lower metal prices, a stronger Canadian dollar, and lower production due to mine closures have led to the decreased value of output. Gold production is estimated to be 17.8 million grams (572 280 oz) with a value of about $304.3 million. The Eskay Creek mine produced 6113 kilograms (196 550 oz) of gold. Silver output is estimated to be 480 million grams (15 432 000 oz) valued at $109.6 million, and up due to increased production at the Eskay Creek mine (309 480 kilograms). Zinc and lead production are estimated to be 157.5 million kilograms and 53.4 million kilograms respectively - worth an estimated $219 million and $56.8 million, respectively.
Production of industrial minerals is estimated to have a value of $43.8 million, while structural materials accounted for a further $419.1 million. Total coal production is estimated to be 25.6 million tonnes value at $1.07 billion.
Spending on mineral exploration increased significantly to about $116 million. This was in part attributable to increased exploration at active mines and the release of geochemical and geophysical survey data in the Cry Lake and East Kootenay areas respectively. The number of claim units recorded in 1996 indicates a 15% increase in the level of activity over 1995. The number of Free Miner Certificates recorded for 1996 is estimated to be down by 9% from 1995.
In 1996 the British Columbia government allocated approximately $500 000 under its Prospectors' Assistance Grant Program, to encourage mineral exploration and resource development.
The British Columbia Geological Survey maintained an active program of fieldwork during the year, including a regional mapping program, mineral deposit studies, mineral potential evaluation, industrial minerals research, surficial geology and geological hazards investigations, regional geochemical studies, and joint projects with the Geological Survey of Canada in geophysics and regional mapping (including NATMAP). The results of these project activities were published in Geological Fieldwork 1996, Paper 1997-1 and in other ministry publications. Much of the data can also be viewed on the ministry website at: http://www.em.gov.bc.ca/Mining/Geoscience/pages/default.aspx.
All printed publications of the BC Geological Survey are available digitally, free of charge, from this website.
For questions or more information on geology and minerals in British Columbia please contact BCGS Mailbox or use the toll free number (BC residents only).