Mining exploration in the Eholt area, four kilometres northwest of the Phoenix mine site, has begun.
Rich Parish, project manager with Coast Mountain Geological, the consulting company that Open Gold hired to run the project, says the mining is still in a very early stage.
“We’re just drilling less than 10 core holes to test different mineralized zones on the property,” Parish says.
Parish says they hope to find copper and gold, the metals that have been historically linked to drilling and production in the area.
He says that whether the mine would be disruptive to local residents would depend on the type of mining used and says that at this point, they don’t know. Parish adds that all the mining would be done to the current environmental regulations and the public has input in the decisions process.
Parish says that currently, they are only drilling the Dead Honda and Senator sites, which all lie in the Eholt area. The other local site, Seattle, is in a difficult position to drill.
“Right now we’re trying to come up with some ideas to drill the Seattle shelling, but it’s complicated by the Trans Canada Trail passing right through it,” Parish says. “The drill rig we have right now, we wouldn’t be able to drill on the trail, it would block it.”
They are looking at possibly bringing in a smaller more portable drill rig, which could be carried in by several people and set up without blocking the trail. The other option is building timbered platforms off the trail and drill with a helicopter-supported drill.
“It’s a very minimal footprint, you just build a wooden deck and set the drill on that and then take the deck down when you’re done,” he says. “That’s more expensive, so we don’t want to go down that route if we can avoid it.”
Parish says that it hasn’t been determined whether that will happen in this phase of drilling or whether it will be put off until later.
“The area that we’re drilling, we’ve had to clear some of the snow off the existing roads to access the drill sites so that’s a fairly minimal impact; the roads were already there,” he says.
Parish adds that when they have completed the exploration stage, they will reclaim the sites. If they disturb any dirt they’ll bring in a backhoe and recontour the ground and seed it. After they complete each drill, they are plugging the holes and cementing the top so he says there is no ground water contamination or problems like that.
Parish says that if they do find something they would then do more exploration before deciding whether to mine.
“Then depending on the mineralization and the grade – if it’s high grade you could conceivably mine it by underground methods, if it’s lower grade then you’d probably use an open-pit method to mine it,” he says.
Peeyush Varshney, president of Open Gold Corp. in Vancouver, said the mining would be good for the area.
“The establishment of a viable mining operation would have a profoundly beneficial effect on the local economy,” he said. “Existing environmental regulations adequately protect property owners from damage.”
Varshney said that it could only be determined after “numerous intersections of mineralization are encountered by surface, and sometimes underground drilling.”
He said that going into development depends on what they find.
“The quantity of gold to be economic varies greatly depending on the grade of the mineralization intersected and how it can be mined,” he said.
“The minimum required for an economically feasible operation is usually about one million ounces; of course one hopes for much more.”