Michael Wigle’s photo shows the area of interest for gold prospecting near Bella Coola, referred to by the company as the “Big Show Zone.” (Michael Wigle photo)

Mining company prospecting for gold near Bella Coola

Gold discovered in alpine areas where glaciers are receding

Toronto-based mining company Goliath Resources Ltd. is prospecting for gold in several areas near Bella Coola. The company calls the area “The Big Show Zone” and it’s located on their “Gold Standard Property” four kilometres north of Bella Coola.

The Gold Standard property is 100 percent owned by the DSM Syndicate, of which Goliath Resources Limited owns a 10 percent interest.

The DSM Syndicate a private precious metals project generator in British Columbia that owns 100 percent of six properties inclusive of the Gold Standard property.

Goliath is a precious metals project generator focused in the prolific “Golden Triangle” and surrounding area of northwestern British Columbia. It controls four highly prospective properties that include Bingo, Golddigger, Lucky Strike and Copperhead covering 44,003 hectares.

The “The Big Show Zone” is not covered in detail on the company’s website as it is in prospecting stages only, and therefore has not been afforded much coverage other than press releases indicating the discovery of the “Big Show Zone” vein system, which indicates “channel, chip, and grab sample assay results of up to 110 grams per tonne gold (3.21 ounces per ton gold).”

Bill Chornobay is the Senior Exploration and Corporate Development Consultant with Juggernaut Exploration Limited, which is conducting the prospecting. He said that the chances of the prospecting actually evolving into a mining operation are around one in a million.

Read More: Newmont Mining to buy Goldcorp to create one of world’s biggest gold producers

“Right now, what we’re doing is no different than what prospectors did 100 years ago,” Chornobay said. “The only advantage is that we have a helicopter.”

The prospecting work Chornobay is conducting takes place under what is known as “free entry,” a law that many consider to be heavily in favour of industry.

Nuxalk/Secwepemc woman Jacinda Mack is a spokesperson for First Nations Women Advocating Responsible Mining (FNWARM) and the co-founder of its current Stand for Water campaign.

She says that provincial mining laws are in desperate need of reform, and that the exploration currently taking place in Nuxalk territory is a perfect example of why.

“‘Free-entry” essentially privileges mining laws over basically any other law,” said Mack. “Companies can just pick up a mineral licence without any conversation or relationship with anybody. It’s just crazy. Zero consultation.”

Mack’s work began with the disastrous Mt. Polley tailings pond breach in 2014 in her home territory of Xat’sull (Soda Creek). Since then she has toured the province extensively speaking on all aspects of the mining industry.

She said lack of consultation with Indigenous communities remains a major issue, especially as many of these proposed projects are located within remote First Nations communities and territories.

“These companies and their prospectors are not required to consult with Indigenous communities or any local community for that matter,” said Mack. “We as communities and Indigenous peoples need to get in front of that conversation to say, ‘this is what we mean by Free, Prior and Informed Consent, here is our land plan, here are our guardians.’”

Chornobay said that company isn’t required to enter into any consultation processes yet as they haven’t engaged in any exploratory drilling.

“We are planning more prospecting in 2019 and that will include taking some samples to see if we will engage in any drilling,” he said. “If we decide to undertake some drilling that’s when the permitting and consultation process would begin.”

Read More: B.C.’s Mount Polley Mine to suspend operations due to sliding copper prices

Chornobay said the recent discoveries are located in alpine areas that haven’t seen the light of day in over 25,000 years.

“All of this new geologic terrain has been buried under snow and ice for thousands of years,” Chornobay explained. “However, there has been a lot of snow and glacial recession which has exposed these areas for the first time.”

Chornobay wasn’t willing to point the finger at climate change as the reason for this massive glacial recession, but recent studies have discovered that glaciers across B.C. and the Yukon have been retreating at an alarming rate.

Brian Menounos, Canada research chair in glacier change at the University of Northern B.C. said the glaciers are recession is undoubtedly due to global warming, and that many of the smaller ones are beyond recovery.

Many of these retreating glaciers are located in Goliath’s “Golden Triangle” in northwest B.C. and have enabled the company to increase its prospecting in these areas.

“Those glaciers in and around the Golden Triangle are thinning about half a metre to a metre a year. This doesn’t sound like a lot but taken over 30 years, we’re talking about 100 feet of lowering,” said Menounos.

Where Menounos sees the effects of climate change, Goliath Resources CEO Roger Rosmus sees opportunities.

“It’s only the last three to five years that we’ve been able to take advantage of the glacier recessions. And more importantly, the permanent snow pack is no longer there,” said Rosmus in an interview with CBC in August of 2018.

Rosmus said his team had discovered gold, copper and silver deposits right at the surface in the Golden Triangle, without the need to dig. Chornobay confirmed this also happened at the Bella Coola site.

Mack said all of this local activity, coupled with the push from mining companies in the face of glacier recession, is more than enough reason for communities to get active and engaged with the issue.

“Immediate actions must be taken,” said Mack. “We all need proper enforcement of rules. We also need both the provincial and federal governments to honour their UNDRIP obligations that embrace reconciliation with the land and Indigenous peoples.”


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