By Alicia Bridges
A new survey of mineral deposits in the area could lead to a spike in exploration in the northwest, according to Smithers Exploration Group president Rob Maurer.
Non-profit organization Geoscience B.C. last year used aerial magnetic surveys to detect concentrations of minerals in an area between Terrace, Kitimat and Smithers, including sites that had not been surveyed since the 1960s.
Data from the survey was unveiled at the recent Minerals Roundup conference, held by the Association for Minerals Exploration B.C. (AME BC) in Vancouver.
According to Geoscience B.C., the project was designed to identify mineral resource potential and to help guide land use decisions.
“The data we have generated here will provide detailed insights into the bedrock and focus mineral exploration and investment in this area,” said Geoscience B.C. minerals and mining vice president Bruce Madu.
Another survey is planned for the area between Smithers and Vanderhoof this year.
Smithers Exploration Group (SEG) president Rob Maurer, who attended the AME BC conference, said similar surveys in stronger economic times had led to increased exploration.
“When it’s been done in the past, when economic times were more plentiful, the aerial survey information being released has actually set off some little staking rushes where people are quick to get in there and stake claims in spots they think show promise based on the information,” said Maurer.
Although exploration has slowed with the downturn in the mining industry, Maurer said the new information could still stimulate activity in the northwest.
He said the data would not specifically identify where to build a mine, but it helped narrow down the search for hidden resources.
Because sites that looked promising could be snapped up quickly, Maurer expected the data would lead to increased exploration in the survey area.
“To take advantage of this information people do have to stake mineral claims or someone else will stake claim to that resource,” he said.
“And to keep those claims people have to do work every year and it’s a matter of, they need to spend an amount of money or do an equivalent amount of work that equates to a number of dollars per hectare per year.”
However, Maurer emphasized the survey was unlikely to lead to a sudden boom in exploration. Instead, he said a slow increase might occur, starting with small amounts of sampling, prospecting or reclamation.
“I wouldn’t want to get people’s hopes up that this survey will become an instant boom and there’s going to be drillers and camps and jobs for everyone,” said Maurer.
“Even in a stronger economy and a stronger investor climate, those things still take time.”
Alicia Bridges is a reporter with The Interior News in Smithers.