Mining activity is ramping up in the Sea to Sky region as two companies trudge for minerals near Pemberton and Lillooet.
Miocene Metals Limited, a Wallbridge Mining Company spinout that went public on the Canadian Venture Exchange this month, recently began drilling exploration at a series of mining properties close to Pemberton and Lillooet.
Bruce Jago, Miocene Metals president and CEO, said he was thrilled to have taken his company public after 16 months of working at it, even as uncertainty grips global markets.
"We go public so we can raise investments funds on the stock exchange rather than raising money privately," he said. "Most people that invest in companies want to be able to buy and sell their shares and the only way you can do that, those two things, is to go public."
The proceeds of the public sale are expected to go towards exploration at three properties at the northern end of the Sea to Sky region: Rogers Creek, Salal and Mackenzie.
And while Jago said it would be a long time before any drilling happens, he remains optimistic about the prospects of striking gold in at least two of these properties.
"We're a long way from identifying something that is economical," he said. "You never know, the first drillhole could be the one that tells us there's something big there, but we're still in an early stage."
Miocene Metals discovered Rogers Creek in 2007. Located in the Lower Lillooet Valley, about 26 kilometres from Pemberton, minerals were discovered when someone building a logging road found some blue and green copper stains on some rocks.
The man took the rocks home and his brother, visiting from Sudbury, Ontario, asked where he got them. His brother asked to take some of the rocks back east to share with an acquaintance who was at the time the chairman of the Wallbridge Mining Company.
The chairman called both the president and Jago, asked what they thought of the rocks and they soon determined that they could have come from what's known as a porphyry copper-gold property, or a "bulk tonnage" deposit, where you can mine for minerals with a low grade.
Wallbridge did some due diligence on the property, collecting samples and analyzing them before they discovered that there were some higher values of copper, gold and silver in the soils.
Wallbridge entered into an option agreement with the vendor, the man who discovered the rocks, that was signed in March 2008. With the agreement in place, the company can earn a 100 per cent interest in the property by making yearly option payments and performing a certain amount of work.
If the property goes into production, the vendor in this case makes 2.5 per cent of the profits.
Exploration has since continued at Rogers Creek. In July Miocene discovered samples of gold, copper and silver in rock outcrop about four kilometres from a six-by-two-kilometre area it had explored previously.
Miocene collected 11 samples from the site and there were 15.75 grams per tonne of gold in one example, with a 3.72 per cent concentration of copper and 25.8 grams per tonne of silver.
Jago said that's a small amount of mineral but that it's nevertheless an "encouraging amount."
"If it was a vain type deposit, it wouldn't be a lot of gold," he said. "But because it's a porphyry-type deposit, because it's one of these bulk tonnage deposits, you can mine lower grade material, so its values in both gold and copper together are encouraging values."
Miocene isn't the only company mining for gold at the northern end of the Sea to Sky region. Also active in mining exploration is Sona Resources Ltd., a Vancouver-based firm that has an interest in the Elizabeth property, located about 35 kilometres north of Bralorne.
There the company hopes to mine 206,000 ounces of gold - not a lot if you look at major mining properties like Prosperity near Williams Lake, but still big enough to warrant exploration.
"We're hoping to extract the gold within two, two and a half years," said Sona Resources president and CEO John Thompson. "What we want to do is mine gold from Elizabeth and truck it to our Blackdome mill, about 35 kilometres to the north, and then process it."
Once in operation the Elizabeth mine, along with Blackdome, could provide an estimated 200 jobs, positions that could go to members of First Nations in the Bridge River area and elsewhere.