Geoscience B.C. is coming back to the Central Interior to study the layers under the earth's surface.
The provincial science team dedicated to subterranean public knowledge has been given the green light for three years of focus on the Interior Plateau/Nechako Region. It is expected the data generated will especially help mining and petroleum companies find the resources they are looking for.
The region, said a Geoscience BC statement, "is recognized as a highly prospective part of the province but is considered to be under-explored because the significant amount of glacial till and young volcanic cover has discouraged or inhibited effective mineral exploration."
The region's history has shown that there are significant deposits of gold, copper, molybdenum and other such minerals, plus rare earth potential and confirmed but untapped natural gas.
Boosting the baseline information about the geological conditions under the local ground will help all future developers on an equal basis, said MLA John Rustad who represents the majority of the study area.
"It is publicly owned data and available online to private companies, other scientists, any individual for that matter. It is interesting information, it has deep practical applications, and it is available to all," Rustad said. "The challenge we have in this area is very complex underground terrain. A lot of younger volcanic activity and glacial till conditions dominate this region. It makes it difficult to conventionally search for resources. Geoscience BC did some large-scale work in the past to help identify some places to explore. It actually helped Huckleberry Mine to expand, for example, and it is the kind of information that helps focus private sector exploration work.Exploration is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the provincial economy, where a mine is found or not, and this is the kind of introductory data that kicks that kind of investment off."
Dave Forshaw is a veteran prospector and forestry professional, and is now a town councillor for Mackenzie. He is the current past-president of the Northern Interior Mining Group, which fosters business relationships between the mining sector and the service industry of the region. He said any study in this region by Geoscience B.C. is welcome and helpful.
"Geoscience B.C. is an excellent group. They act on behalf of all of us British Columbians, they have a number of sophisticated ways of underground mapping, and very qualified people doing that work," said Forshaw. "They have brought up, no pun intended, a lot of information that in the past we've just walked over. This is a terribly under studied area of the province especially when you consider all that we have found already."
The town of Mackenzie provided money to Geoscience B.C. about 12 years ago on a particular study that resulted in the Kwanika discovery that is in the advanced stages of mine approval, and the same study also triggered further data collection that is having positive results in the same region north of Fort St. James and west of Mackenzie. Mount Milligan, a multi-million-dollar mine development in the same area, was fostered by Geoscience BC data. The examples are numerous of publicly owned baseline data turning into mine money for the taxpayer, Forshaw said, and it has only begun.
"The easiest way to get the interest of the junior exploration companies is these mapping programs," he explained. "They pinpoint places that are interesting, that have potential. If Geoscience B.C. finds an area that's mineralized, and they provide trustworthy numbers for what's below the surface, it can make a big difference in where exploration should be done. All the junior exploration companies - hundreds of them - are looking at that data. They want to be able to focus their activities as efficiently as possible."