Gold Mining in British Columbia
The British Columbia Geological Survey’s MINFILE database lists 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 (source: BC Natural Resources ).
A Brief History
The history of gold mining in British Columbia, Canada, is rich and dates back to the mid-1800s when gold was first discovered in the region. Here is an overview of the key milestones and events in the history of gold mining in British Columbia:
- Fraser River Gold Rush (1858-1860):
- The gold rush in British Columbia began with the discovery of gold on the banks of the Fraser River in 1858. This discovery led to a massive influx of prospectors and settlers, primarily from California, the United States, and other parts of the world.
- Towns like Yale and Barkerville quickly grew in population and became centers for gold mining and trade.
- Cariboo Gold Rush (1860-1863):
- Following the Fraser River Gold Rush, another major gold rush, known as the Cariboo Gold Rush, took place in the Cariboo region of British Columbia.
- The town of Barkerville, named after prospector Billy Barker, became one of the largest and most famous gold mining towns in the region.
- Development of Hydraulic Mining:
- In the late 1800s, hydraulic mining techniques were introduced to extract gold from gravel deposits. High-pressure water jets were used to wash away gravel and expose gold-bearing materials.
- Decline and Revival (Late 1800s to Early 1900s):
- As the easily accessible gold deposits were depleted, many mining towns declined in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
- However, some areas saw a resurgence in gold mining activities due to technological advancements and discoveries of new deposits.
- Klondike Gold Rush (1896-1899):
- While not directly in British Columbia, the Klondike Gold Rush, which began in the Yukon Territory in 1896, attracted many prospectors from British Columbia. The gold seekers traveled through BC on their way to the Klondike region.
- Modern Gold Mining:
- In the 20th century, British Columbia continued to be a significant producer of gold. Large-scale gold mining operations, such as the Bralorne and Eskay Creek mines, became important contributors to the province's economy.
- Environmental and Regulatory Changes:
- Environmental concerns led to changes in mining practices and regulations in British Columbia. Stricter environmental standards and land-use planning were introduced to mitigate the impact of mining activities.
- Current Status:
- Gold mining remains an important industry in British Columbia, with several active mines and exploration projects. The province continues to produce significant amounts of gold, contributing to both the local economy and the wider Canadian mining industry.
As of September 2021, British Columbia has several operating gold mines. However, please note that the status of mines can change over time due to various factors, including market conditions, resource depletion, and regulatory considerations. Here are some of the notable operating gold mines in British Columbia:
- New Afton Mine: Located near Kamloops, New Afton is an underground gold-copper mine operated by New Gold Inc. It has been in operation since 2012 and continues to produce gold and copper.
- Mount Milligan Mine: Situated in north-central British Columbia, the Mount Milligan Mine is primarily a copper-gold mine operated by Centerra Gold Inc. It began production in 2013.
- Island Gold Mine: While not on the mainland of British Columbia, the Island Gold Mine is located on Vancouver Island and is operated by Alamos Gold. It's primarily a gold mine and has been in operation since 2018.
- Brucejack Mine: Located in northwestern British Columbia, the Brucejack Mine is an underground gold mine operated by Pretium Resources Inc. It started commercial production in 2017.
- Red Chris Mine: Situated in northwestern British Columbia, the Red Chris Mine primarily produces copper and gold. It is operated by Imperial Metals Corporation.
- Greenwood Gold Project: This project includes the Lexington-Grenoble and Golden Crown mines, both of which are located near the town of Greenwood in southern British Columbia. The mines are operated by Golden Dawn Minerals Inc.
- Silbak-Premier Mine: Located in the Stewart region of British Columbia, this mine is operated by Ascot Resources Ltd. It primarily produces gold and silver.
New Polaris 1950’s
British Columbia has a number of gold exploration companies actively operating in the province. However, the status of exploration projects and the companies involved can change over time due to various factors, including exploration results, market conditions, and corporate decisions. Here are a few gold exploration companies known to be currently active in British Columbia:
Skeena Resources Limited: Skeena Resources is engaged in exploration and development activities in the Golden Triangle region of northwestern British Columbia. They have been exploring the Eskay Creek and Snip gold projects, among others.
Ascot Resources Ltd: Ascot Resources is focused on exploration and development in the Stewart region of British Columbia. They have been exploring the Premier and Red Mountain gold projects.
Amarc Resources Ltd: Amarc Resources is involved in exploring and advancing several projects in British Columbia, including the IKE porphyry copper-gold-molybdenum project and JOY gold-copper project.
Benchmark Metals Inc: Benchmark Metals is active in the Golden Triangle region of British Columbia and has been exploring the Lawyers Gold-Silver project.
Bard Ventures Ltd: Bard Ventures has been involved in exploration activities in the Cassiar Gold Camp in northwestern British Columbia.
Goldsource Mines Inc: While not exclusively focused on British Columbia, Goldsource Mines has explored gold projects in the province, including the Eagle Mountain Gold project.
Canagold Resources Ltd: In 2023 Canagold Resources completed its exploration phase at its New Polaris project – a past producer in the 1930s and ‘50s – with a revised resources estimate of 1.1 million ounces of gold at a high grade of 11.6 grams gold per tonne. The company is now at the feasibility and permitting stage.