Mineral Exploration

Winter 2019

Mineral Exploration is the official publication of the Association of Mineral Exploration British Columbia.

Issue link: http://digital.canadawide.com/i/1189730

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Discovering the Spences Bridge Gold Belt How perseverance and public geoscience unearthed a new gold belt in southwestern B.C. By KYLIE WILLIAMS F or the last 20 years, while "everybody else was largely focused on the Golden Triangle," prospector Edward Balon was uncovering a rich new epithermal gold district just a few hours drive from Vancouver in southwestern British Columbia. His hard work and persistence in the Spences Bridge Gold Belt (SBGB) has paid off. For the last two years, it has been buzzing with exploration activity. "It's a historic mining district," says Balon of the region surrounding Merritt where thousands of prospectors swarmed in 1857 after placer gold was discovered where the Nicoamen River flows into the Thompson River. "Everybody just assumed that others had thoroughly explored for the source of this gold, but that's not the case." Balon was determined to find the source of the gold. He found several mentions of placer gold discoveries in historic literature, but no detailed geological mapping had been completed over the area, nor were any mineral deposits or showings recorded in the B.C. Geological Survey's (BCGS) MINFILE database. The area is surrounded by significant porphyry copper deposits, but no epithermal gold-silver vein occurrences are associated with them. In the winter of 1999-2000, while employed by Almaden Minerals, Balon dove into historical records to learn more about the Spences Bridge Group, a narrow, north west-trending belt of Early Cretaceous volcanic rocks covering nearly 3,200 square kilometres from Princeton to Lillooet. Several high-grade gold anomalies from stream sediment samples collected in the area and analysed as part of the Regional MAKING NEW DISCOVERIES IN OLD DATA Prospector Edward Balon unearthed a new gold district in the Spences Bridge Gold Belt by ground-truthing anomalous samples that were collected and analysed as part of the Regional Geochemical Survey (RGS). The RGS began in 1976 and continues to support cost-effective greenfield exploration in the province today. Initially, the RGS was jointly funded by the federal and provincial governments. Today, it is hosted and maintained by the BC Geological Survey and, in recent years, Geoscience BC has funded the collection of new samples in key areas of the province and reanalysis of previously collected samples using modern analytical techniques. In June 2019, Geoscience BC announced a project to upgrade RGS mineralogical data in southeastern B.C. The project is collecting and analysing about 100 new bulk stream sediment samples from an area of the Penticton 1:250 000 map sheet that includes the communities of Beaverdell, Fauquier, Grand Forks and Greenwood. "Indicator minerals recovered from these new samples will help identify geochemical anomalies and may reveal undiscovered mineralized sources and demonstrate a method to assess the geochemistry of large drainage areas using fewer samples," says Geoscience BC vice-president, minerals Christa Pellett. ■ PHOTO: ED BALON 54 Mineral Exploration | amebc.ca Ed Balon and his Field Assistants' great companions, October 2006

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