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Ministry of Energy Mines and Responsible for Core Review

Exploration in B.C. 2000


By Mike Cathro
(PDF version 564 Kb | HTML version)

Note: The PDF file also contains the Document title page, CIP information, Table of Contents, and Lists of Tables, Figures and Photos.


Part A - Review of Exploration and Mining Activity


Paul Wojdak:
Northwest Region

(PDF Document, 4.5 Mb)


Bob Lane:
Northeast-Central Region
(PDF Document, 8 Mb)


Jacques Houle:
Southwest Region
(PDF Document, 300 Kb)


Michael S. Cathro
South-Central Region
(PDF Document, 9.5 Mb)


Paul Wilton:
Kootenay Region
(PDF Document, 6.4 Mb)


Part B -   Geological Descriptions of Selected Properties


Barry Ryan:
An Introduction to Coalbed Methane Potential in British Columbia

(PDF Document, 470 Kb)


Ian C.L. Webster and Gerry E. Ray:
The Mt Fleet Alkaline Complex: a Potential PGE Target
(PDF Document, 253 Kb)


Garry Payie:
1999-2000 British Columbia Prospectors Assistance Program
(PDF Document, 430 Kb)




This volume provides details of exploration, development and mining activity in British Columbia during calendar year 2000. Reviews of activity are provided by regional geologists based in Mines Branch offices in Nanaimo, Kamloops, Cranbrook, Prince George, and Smithers. In addition, there are several short exploration-oriented papers by Mines Branch or Geological Survey Branch staff.


Exploration activity in British Columbia registered a slight improvement in year 2000. Spending is estimated at $27 million, up slightly from the $25 million spent in 1999. Exploration drilling was up marginally to about 180 000 metres. A little over half of the drilling was at operating mine sites, and almost half of that was at the Elk Valley coal mines. The most encouraging sign for year 2000 is that claim staking activity was up sharply as a result of several new grassroots discoveries. Over 28 000 new claim units were recorded during the year, a gain of 68% relative to 1999.


New discoveries highlighted the year’s exploration results. Early in the year, the Bonanza Ledge auriferous pyrite body was discovered by drilling in the Wells-Barkerville gold belt. This prompted a staking rush with about 7900 claim units recorded. Later in the year, several new polymetallic massive sulphide prospects were discovered elsewhere in southern British Columbia, including: the Fox in Nicola volcanic rocks near Merritt; the Spire near the Goldstream mine north of Revelstoke; several zinc-lead showings in metamorphic rocks on the Broken Hill property near Blue River; the Silver Lynx in Rossland volcanics near Nelson and the Raven on Nootka Island. Some of these will be drilled in early 2001.


Base metal targets were the focus of many of the advanced exploration projects in the province. The Remac property near Trail was explored for carbonate-hosted zinc oxide mineralization. At the past-producing Afton mine near Kamloops, deep holes evaluated a high-grade, breccia-hosted, alkalic porphyry copper-gold deposit. Porphyry copper-gold mineralization was also tested at Morrison and Ann North while polymetallic skarn-manto targets were drilled at Lustdust and redbed copper deposits were drilled at Sustut. At Silvertip, underground holes were drilled to define a silver-zinc-lead manto deposit.


The sharp rise in prices of platinum group metals (PGMs) rejuvenated worldwide interest in these metals. In British Columbia, it spurred grassroots prospecting in numerous locations, and re-evaluation of known nickel, copper and chromite prospects. Interest in PGMs is expected to increase in 2001.


British Columbia’s mines and quarries produced a wide variety of solid mineral commodities in 2000. Based on the value of production, the most important of these are metallurgical coal (28%), copper (25%), structural materials (15%), gold (12%), zinc (9%), silver (5%), molybdenum, lead, industrial minerals and thermal coal. Despite continued low prices for coal and most of the metals through 2000, the total value of solid mineral production is forecast at $2.84 billion, up from $2.6 billion in 1999. The increase in value is mainly due to higher production at Highland Valley, Myra Falls and Kemess mines.


Among the operating mines, the most significant event during the year was the permanent closure of the Quintette mine in the Northeast coalfields in August. The low price of coal was cited as the reason for closure. The Endako mine continues to work with the Job Protection Commission on an economic plan that would keep the mine operating beyond a May 2001 closure, which is planned due to the low price of molybdenum. The Sullivan zinc-lead-silver mine will close in December, 2001 due to exhaustion of reserves. The Kemess copper-gold mine reduced operating costs and raised recoveries and mill throughput, the Eskay Creek gold-silver mine completed a mill expansion and raised production, and Highland Valley Copper reduced operating costs and established production records. A successful season of mining and heap leach processing took place at the Golden Bear gold mine, but leach ore is now essentially exhausted.


Optimism is high that 2001 will be a better year for exploration in British Columbia. This is due to several exciting new polymetallic discoveries made late in 2000 and renewed interest by companies in base metals. The federal government’s new Exploration Investment Tax Credit should support junior companies’ efforts to finance work, particularly when combined with the BC Mining Exploration Tax Credit, which was amended in July to include a flow-through component.


Mike Cathro
Regional Geologist, Kamloops


All printed publications of the B.C. 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).