B.C’s historical Kootenay-Boundary district mining region gathers attention

Photo by Erik Levin, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.

Non-profit organization Geoscience BC recently published a series of maps and geological data whose main goal is to encourage mineral exploration in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary in southern British Columbia.

Known as the Greenwood area, the site is well established since the 1880s as one of the most prolific areas for the exploitation of gold, silver, copper, lead, and zinc in the western Canadian province.

According to Geoscience’s archives, it hosted 26 mines whose combined production reached 1.2 million ounces of gold and over 270,000 tonnes of copper. Among those mines was the world-class, open pit copper-gold skarn deposit known as Phoenix, as well as the Mother Lode, Greyhound and Oro Denoro mines.

Rock Creek, British Columbia. Photo by Bob Cortright, Wikimedia Commons.

“More recently the Lexington copper-gold mine operated up to 2008 and efforts are currently underway to resume mining at it as well as the nearby Golden Crown, May Mac and Lone Star Mines,” Geoscience BC Vice-President of Minerals and Mining, Bruce Madu, told MINING.com.

Golden Dawn Minerals, KG Exploration Inc. and GGX Gold Corp. are among the companies setting foot and looking for opportunities in the terrains surrounded by the towns of Grand Forks, Greenwood, Midway and Rock Creek.

Madu said that based on the recently released Greenwood Map Area, which provides an updated understanding the relationships between different rock types and their ages around the district, more and more miners are paying attention to this place.

“A common axiom in the exploration sector is that the best place to look more ore is in the ‘shadow of the headframe’-the headframe being part of a mine’s infrastructure where ore is lifted to the surface, and a great starting point to start looking for more. The Kootenay-Boundary region has an abundance of ‘headframes’ and excellent infrastructure for developing a mine,” Geoscience BC VP said.

Greenwood area map by Geoscience BC.

According to Madu, this information is almost new because despite having had over a century of exploration and mining, some of the understandings of the geology in the region are poor. “The geology of BC is very complex, the province being built of scraps of old ocean floor, volcanic chains, continental sediments and other exotic ‘tectonic’ elements forced together by earth’s moving crustal plates. Scientists are left to explain this history with what they see today, the end of a story where most of the book’s pages are missing. In this region, emerging evidence is telling us that one of BC’s more prolific copper-bearing geological terranes, long thought to be exotic and far travelled, have actually been here all along,” he said.

The expert explained that modern techniques for determining a rock’s age are revealing that gold-bearing rock units in the area are relatively young and that a younger era of metal deposition in Greenwood might be an analogue for looking throughout British Columbia. “This area could hold the key to a better understanding of mineral deposits that formed during key geological events that span almost 200 million years,” Madu said.