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Golden Triangle is not the only gold exploration hotspot in British Columbia

Commentaries & Views

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According to the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources of British Columbia (BCMEMP), B.C. has over 3,380 occurrences for which gold is identified as the primary commodity. Of these, approximately 700 have recorded gold production (400 lode producers and 300 placer).

Between 1858 and 2013, about 32 million ounces were produced from lode deposits and 6 million ounces from placers.

Remaining in-ground gold resources in the province are estimated at 280 million ounces.

Porphyry deposits contain most (~81%) of B.C.’s gold resources and are its main source of gold production. Significant examples of porphyry deposits include Prosperity, Kemess Underground, Mt. Milligan, Galore Creek, Schaft Creek, Red Chris, New Afton, Mount Polley, Red Chris and KSM.

Vein deposits are also very important source of gold in B.C. Historically, the main sources of gold in the province were mesothermal and epithermal veins. More than 400 veins yielded 14.6 million ounces, including more than 4 million ounces from the Bridge River Camp, 2.44 million ounces from the Rossland Camp, and 2 million ounces from the Premier Camp (epithermal veins). The Snip intrusion-related, shear-hosted vein ore body produced 1.07 million ounces at an average grade of 24 g/t, representing another attractive high-grade target type. Brucejack, a new gold mine in northwestern B.C., is a transitional mesothermal to epithermal stockwork- and breccia- hosted deposit. The Blackwater Project, part of an emerging camp on the Nechako Plateau, has characteristics of both high and low sulphidation epithermal mineralization.

Although most Volcanogenic Massive Sulphides (VMS) deposits mined in B.C. have recovered gold and silver as by-products (e.g. Myra Falls, Britannia), the high grade Eskay Creek mine was exceptional, with average grades of 47 g/t gold and 878 g/t silver. There is potential for the discovery of additional deposits like Eskay Creek between the communities of Stewart and Iskut.

Source: BCMEMP

Located in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, the Golden Triangle boasts some of the most impressive gold discoveries in North America. For decades, B.C.’s Golden Triangle has attracted prospectors in search of a golden opportunity. Today, the region is experiencing newfound interest thanks to a strengthening gold market and new advances in infrastructure. 

While Golden Triangle is indeed an epicenter of new gold rush in B.C., other mining and exploration camps across the province remain of a major importance, too.

Distribution of major gold deposits in B.C. (2015). Golden Triangle roughly outlined in red. Source: BCMEMP.

Here is the list of top 15 largest gold deposits in British Columbia ranked by the total volume of gold metal contained in Reserves and Resources. To avoid double counting, Reserves that reported as included in Resources were excluded from totals.

Top 15 largest gold deposits in British Columbia. Gold Reserves (excluded from Resources) plus Resources, Moz. * Reserves reported as included in Resources.

Top 15 largest gold deposits in B.C., based on the most recent disclosed technical reports.

Project

Major Owner

Status

Gold in Reserves, Moz

Gold in Resources, Moz

Reserves (excluded) + Resources, Moz

1

KSM*

Seabridge

PFS/PEA

38.8

107.3

107.3

2

Red Chris*

Newcrest

Production

2.7

19.7

19.7

3

New Prosperity*

Taseko

Suspended

11.0

13.3

13.3

4

Blackwater*

Artemis

PFS/Permitting

8.0

11.7

11.7

5

Brucejack*

Pretium

Production

4.2

10.7

10.7

6

Galore Creek

Newmont / Teck

FS/PFS

n/a

10.6

10.6

7

Tatogga

GT Gold

PEA

n/a

8.9

8.9

8

Schaft Creek

Teck

FS

n/a

7.9

7.9

9

Kemess*

Centerra

FS

1.9

4.9

4.9

10

Spanish Mountain

Spanish Mountain Gold

PEA

n/a

4.7

4.7

11

Mount Milligan

Centerra

Production

2.4

1.5

3.9

12

Eskay

Skeena

PEA

n/a

3.0

3.0

13

Copper Mountain*

Copper Mountain

Production

1.5

2.8

2.8

14

Kwanika

Serengeti Resources

Advanced Exploration

n/a

2.3

2.3

15

Premier

Ascot

FS/Permitting

n/a

2.3

2.3

Total

70.4

211.6

214

* Reserves reported as included in Resources.

1.KSM. 107.3 Moz.

KSM project. Source: Seabridge.

Seabridge’s KSM Project is one of the largest undeveloped gold deposits in the world measured by gold reserves. An updated Preliminary Feasibility Study (PFS) estimates proven and probable reserves total 38.8 million ounces of gold and 10.2 billion pounds of copper.

The KSM Project has completed a joint harmonized environmental assessment review as outlined by the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. In July, 2014 the project received its Environmental Assessment Certificate from the provincial authorities. Final federal approval was received in December, 2014.

2.Red Chris. 19.7 Moz.

Red Chris mine. Source: Newcrest.

On 16 August 2019, Newcrest announced that it had acquired a 70%

joint venture interest in, and operatorship, of the Red Chris Mine and surrounding tenements in British Columbia, Canada. Red Chris is a copper-gold porphyry with an operating open-pit mine.

Imperial Metals and Newcrest have formed a joint venture for the operation of Red Chris, with Newcrest acting as operator. Imperial retains a 30% joint venture interest in the Red Chris mine. Red Chris is a 30,000 tpd open pit conventional milling operation with current mine life of up to 2043.

The joint venture partnership will leverage Newcrest’s unique technical expertise in block caving operations. A plan to mine the deep resource beneath the current open pits will be developed to exploit the high grades in the deep East zone.

3.New Prosperity. 13.3 Moz.

New Prosperity project. Source: Taseko.

One of the Largest Copper-Gold porphyries in the world and one of Canada’s largest undeveloped copper-gold projects, Taseko’s New Prosperity deposit has the potential to create significant economic and social value, both in and beyond British Columbia.

The Prosperity deposit is a gold-copper porphyry with a one billion tonne measured and indicated resource containing 5.3 billion pounds of copper and 13.3 million ounces of gold. At long-term gold and copper prices the project has robust economics.

In February 2014 the Government of Canada announced it will not issue the federal authorizations necessary for the New Prosperity Project to proceed. The Company fundamentally disagrees with the federal government’s decision and believes they based their decision on a panel report which contains serious flaws.

On February 11, 2016 Taseko filed a civil claim in the BC Supreme Court against the Canadian federal government. The claim seeks damages in relation to the February 25, 2014 decision concerning the New Prosperity Project claiming the Government of Canada and its agents failed to meet the legal duties that were owed to Taseko and that in doing so they caused and continue to cause damages, expenses and loss to Taseko.

4.Blackwater. 11.7 Moz.

Blackwater project. Source: Artemis Gold.

The primary focus for  Artemis is on advancing to construction the Blackwater Gold Project in central BC, Canada, a project with 10+ million ounces of gold in resources, Environmental Assessment approval and the potential to develop into one of the largest gold mines in Canada with cash costs in the lower quartile of global producers.

The Blackwater Project will comprise the construction, operation, and closure of an open pit gold and silver mine and ore processing facilities commencing with a nominal milling rate of 15,000 t/d (5.5 Mtpa).  The ore processing facilities will be expanded to achieve 33,000 tpd (12 Mt/y) starting in year 6 with a final expansion to achieve 55,000 t/d (20 Mt/y) starting in year 11 of operation.  A combined gravity circuit and whole ore leaching (WOL) will be used for recovering gold and silver.

The proposed mine plan involves mining 334 Mt of ore, 584 Mt of waste rock and 83 Mt of overburden.  The material will be sourced via conventional open pit mining methods, initially targeting high-grade, near-surface ore for processing, with lower-grade material being stockpiled for processing at the end of the mine life.

5.Brucejack. 10.7 Moz.

Brucejack mine. Source: Pretium.

Pretium’s Brucejack Mine is a high-grade gold underground mine located in northwestern British Columbia, approximately 65 kilometers north of Stewart. A year-round, all-weather access road connects the mine to Highway 37. The mine’s operations and camps are connected to and powered by the BC Hydro power grid, with full diesel backup available. The mine has produced 965,788 ounces of gold since it began commercial operation in July 2017.

The mining method at Brucejack is long-hole stoping using a combination of longitudinal and transverse mining, depending on zone width and orientation. The ore is crushed underground and conveyed to surface where the fully-enclosed mill produces gold-silver dore bars and flotation concentrate.

The tailings are mixed with cement and used as paste backfill in underground voids, with the remainder pumped to the lower depth of Brucejack Lake.  No tailings dam.

6.Galore Creek. 10.6 Moz.

Galore Creek property. Source: Galore Creek Mining.

The Galore Creek project is located in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, within Tahltan Nation territory. It is 370 kilometres northwest of the town of Smithers, 150 kilometres northwest of the Port of Stewart, and approximately 70 kilometres west of the Bob Quinn airstrip.

Galore Creek is one of the world’s largest undeveloped copper-gold-silver deposits. Galore Creek Mining Corporation, a joint venture between Newmont Mining Corporation and Teck Resources Limited, is committed to improving the project economics and advancing the asset towards development. Working closely with the Tahltan Nation and other local communities, we strive for excellence in all our activities, with continuous improvement and responsible practices that contribute to sustainable development.

In 2020, due to COVID-19 and the resulting economic uncertainties faced by the mining industry, expenditures on the Project have been reduced, deferring the start of the planned Prefeasibility Study. A core team and funding are in place to meet current permit, environment and community obligations. The 2020 field program has been reduced to a Care and Maintenance level of operation designed to manage critical safety, environmental, social and regulatory compliance conditions and key components of the environmental baseline study scope of work.

7.Tatogga. 8.93 Moz.

Tatogga property. Source: GT Gold.

The Tatogga property is located in the very rugged Stikine region of northwestern British Columbia, Canada, on the Klastline Plateau, within the area generally referred to as the “Golden Triangle”. The Tatogga Property comprises a total of 44,205.63 hectares.

GT Gold made two significant discoveries in 2017 and 2018 at its Saddle prospect: a precious metal rich vein system at Saddle South and a gold-rich copper porphyry at Saddle North.

On July 6, 2020, GT Gold published a maiden resource estimate for its Saddle North project.  A Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”) study for Saddle North is currently on schedule for completion by year end 2020. 

GT Gold continues to generate exploration targets on the Tatogga property, in part by undertaking further greenfields-style exploration (soil geochemistry, Induced Polarization surveys and field mapping), as well as reassessing the substantial historical exploration datasets gleaned from Assessment Reports for the district, which have been archived by the Ministry of Mines of B.C. 

8.Schaft Creek. 7.92 Moz.

Schaft Creek project. Source: Copper Fox.

Copper Fox’s primary and most advanced asset is its 25% carried interest in the Schaft Creek Joint Venture (SCJV) with Teck Resources Limited (Teck). Schaft Creek is one of the largest undeveloped porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum-silver deposits in North America, located in northwestern British Columbia. 

Between 2013 and 2017, the SCJV reviewed the major components of the Feasibility Study, completed limited exploration programs and continued collecting additional geotechnical, metallurgical and baseline environmental information along with social and cultural interaction with the Tahltan Nation.

In 2017 and 2018, the SCJV updated the Mineral Resources statement for the Schaft Creek project (December 31, 2018 effective date) and confirmed there were no changes in the Measured and Indicated Resources categories used in the 2013 Feasibility Study and the 2018 Mineral Resource update.

9.Kemess. 4.9 Moz.

Kemess project. Source: Centerra Gold.

Kemess is located in north-central British Columbia approximately 250 km north of Smithers and 430 km northwest of Prince George. The property is host to the former Kemess South (KS) Mine, the KUG deposit and the KE deposit. The KUG deposit lies approximately 6.5 km north of the existing KS processing plant and other infrastructure.

The KS Mine comprised a large open pit mine feeding gold-copper ore to a 52,000 tonnes per day (t/d) processing plant. Between 1998 and 2011, KS produced approximately 3.0 million ounces of gold and 750 million pounds of copper from 218 Mt of ore. Open pit mining and processing ceased in March 2011 on depletion of the mineral reserves. The processing plant and other facilities and equipment that are required to support an underground mining operation at the KUG deposit are currently under care and maintenance. Existing on-site infrastructure includes offices, warehouse, laydowns, maintenance facilities, a 300-person accommodation camp footprint, crushed ore stockpile and reclaim, access and service roads, airstrip, explosives magazines, and electrical sub-station. A Company-owned, 380 km power line originating in Mackenzie, provides power to the mine site via the BC Hydro grid.

The updated KUG FS outlines a robust project with significant production of gold and copper over a 12 year mine life at low all-in sustaining costs. Importantly, the KUG project hosts potentially material upside opportunities, including significant mine life extension opportunities associated with the large resource at KUG.

10.Spanish Mountain. 4.7 Moz.

Spanish Mountain Project. Source: Spanish Mountain Gold.

The Spanish Mountain gold project is located about 6 kilometers from the village of Likely, in the Cariboo region of central British Columbia, approximately 70 kilometers north-east of the city of Williams Lake. It has all weather road access throughout the entire year, power to the property and closely located to a substation for power upgrade during production. The property is also closely located to producing mines; Mount Polley and Gibraltar.

Spanish Mountain Gold Ltd. is focused on advancing this Project.  The Project is well funded to pursue the dual objectives of fast tracking Phase 1 of the Project to be “shovel ready” and actively expanding the mineral resource.  The Company has commenced a Preliminary Feasibility Study for Phase 1 with the target of completion during the first quarter of 2021.  Phase I focuses on the pit-delineated high-grade core of the deposit that is potentially expected to sustain a stand-alone operation for more than a decade.  The potential viability of Phase 1 has been demonstrated in a 2019 Preliminary Economic Assessment, which profiles an operation with low operating cost and modest capital expenditures.

11.Mount Milligan. 3.9 Moz.

Mount Milligan mine. Source: Centerra.

Mount Milligan is located approximately 155 kilometres northwest of Prince George in central British Columbia, Canada. The Mount Milligan Mine is a conventional truck-shovel open-pit copper and gold mine and concentrator with a 60,000 tpd capacity copper flotation processing plant. Mount Milligan has an estimated mine life of 9 years.

12.Eskay Creek. 3.03 Moz.

Eskay Creek project. Source: Skeena Resources.

Eskay Creek is a precious metal-rich volcanogenic massive sulphide (VMS) deposit. The mineralization at Eskay has been the focus of considerable exploration activity dating back to 1932. During exploration in 1988, the 21A and 21B zone were first discovered which eventually led to the opening of the Eskay Creek Mine in 1994.

Eskay was the highest-grade gold mine in the world when in production. The mine produced 3.3 million ounces of gold and 160 million ounces of silver at average grades of 45 g/t gold and 2,224 g/t silver from 1994 -2008.

The open-pit Eskay Creek resource contains 2.6 million ounces at 5.9 g/t AuEq in the Indicated category and 1.4 million ounces at 3.0 g/t AuEq in the Inferred category. Skeena released a PEA in November 2019 which highlights an NPV5% of C$638M, 51% IRR and a 1.2-year payback at US$1,325/oz Au. The company is aggressively advancing Eskay towards a Pre-Feasibility Study with a target to release in H1 2021.

The 2019 Eskay Creek PEA considers an open-pit mine with on-site treatment of the mined material by conventional milling and flotation to recover a gold-silver concentrate for provision to third-party smelters. The mine will be an owner-operated, standard truck and shovel open-pit, with a leased mining fleet.

13.Copper Mountain. 2.78 Moz.

Copper Mountain project. Source: Copper Mountain.

The Copper Mountain mine is located about 20 km south of Princeton, British Columbia and 300 km east of the port of Vancouver. The Copper Mountain mineral claims cover approximately 18,000 acres and consist primarily of 135 crown grants, 176 mineral claims and 14 mining leases. The property is accessible by a combination of highways and paved roads and is close to the port of Vancouver that provides service for shipment of copper concentrates.

The Copper Mountain mine is a conventional open pit, truck and shovel operation. The mine has a 40 ktpd plant that utilizes a conventional crushing, grinding and flotation circuit to produce copper concentrates with gold and silver credits. Plant throughput is expected to increase to 45 ktpd with the installation of a third ball mill. With the plant expansion, average annual production is expected to increase to 120 million pounds of copper equivalent from 90 million pounds of copper equivalent.

Based on reserves only, and with the integration of New Ingerbelle, which is located one kilometer from the Copper Mountain mine, the operation’s current mine life is expected to be approximately 31 years. Further potential exists through the upgrading of resources to reserves and further exploration.

14. Kwanika. 2.34 Moz.

Kwanika project. Source: Serengeti Resources.

The Kwanika claim group is 25,928 hectares in size and is held entirely by Kwanika Copper Corporation (KCC). Kwanika is located in the northern Quesnel Trough, which hosts numerous porphyry copper-gold deposits. It is accessible by road from the town of Fort St. James, British Columbia.

An advanced stage copper-gold project located near infrastructure in a politically stable jurisdiction. Kwanika’s resource estimate includes a high-grade, well defined domain within the Central Zone on the property.

Kwanika Copper Corporation is jointly held by Serengeti Resources Inc. (SIR; 66%) and Posco International Corporation (PIC; 34%). Revised resource estimate published March, 2019. Initial metallurgical testwork, published early Q2 2019. Prefeasibility Study engineering deferred in October 2019 pending approval of budget for optimization studies.

15.Premier. 2.25 Moz.

Premier project. Source: Ascot Resources.

The Premier Gold Project (“PGP”) is located 25 kilometres from the town of Stewart, British Columbia and Hyder, Alaska in the prolific Golden Triangle. Stewart is situated at the end of the Portland Canal across the border from Alaska and has excellent infrastructure, including a paved highway to major transportation routes, a deep-water port (ice free in the winter), a concentrate load facility and extensive hydro power facilities for supporting mining and mineral exploration activities.

PGP comprises a land position of 8,133 hectares with three key deposits and a number of exploration targets. The key deposits are Premier, Silver Coin and Big Missouri, which all had historical mining activities and underground access. In addition, to the north are two smaller resource areas known as Martha Ellen and Dilworth. 

The PGP property can be accessed by two gravel roads: The Granduc road and the Big Missouri haul road. Key infrastructure on site are the mill and assay buildings, the tailings dam facility, the Premier, Silver Coin and Big Missouri underground mine infrastructure, the Regional Power hydro dam, penstock and power plant, the BC Hydro power lines from Stewart and the water treatment plant, along with the associated water treatment ponds. Due to its location to the nearby town of Stewart, this project does not require a remote campsite for employees.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.