The main Phoenix mine is located six kilometres east of Greenwood at the elevation of 1370 metres. Access to Phoenix is by paved road east from Greenwood or by an all weather gravel road west from the Grand Forks section of Highway 3.
The first claims in the Phoenix area were staked by Henry White and Matthew Hatter on July 15th, 1891. The claims were Crown granted in 1896. In 1896, J.F.C. Miner, a rubber footwear manufacturer from Granby, Quebec, together with mining promoter J.P. Graves and A.L. Little of Spokane, Washington, formed the Miner-Graves Syndicate. In 1899, they incorporated The Granby Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, Limited and, in 1901, consolidated under The Granby Consolidated Mining, Smelting and Power Company, Limited. The Canadian Pacific Railway extended a branch line to Phoenix and underground mining of copper and gold ores began using a combination of square set and room and pillar stopes serviced by numerous shafts and adits. Later, open pit mining methods were developed and the Old Ironsides mine became one of the first open pit mines in Canada. In 1900, the City of Phoenix was incorporated, construction of the British Columbia Copper Co.’s smelter at Greenwood was largely completed, and the Granby smelter at Grand Forks was ‘blown in’ in the fall of the year.
In the early days most of the ore feeding the smelter at Grand Forks came from the Old Ironsides mine; however, 8 different mineralized zones contributed to production from the Granby property. Ore was also produced in the mining camp by the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company, primarily from the Snowshoe mine. Production rates from the camp varied markedly but attained as much as 3000 tons per day at this time. In 1919, the Granby mine and smelter closed owing to a number of factors at the end of World War I, including low copper prices, decreasing ore grades and a shortage of coking coal for the smelter furnaces.
W.E. McArthur leased the property in 1936 and began recovering ore from the old workings; he subsequently purchased the property from Granby and intermittent exploration and development work continued until 1946. Attwood Copper Mines Limited optioned the property in 1951 and conducted geological mapping, geophysical and geochemical surveys and diamond drilling until 1953.
In 1955, the Granby company re-purchased the property and began an evaluation with intent of developing an open pit, trackless mining operation. A subsidiary company, Phoenix Copper Company Limited, was incorporated in June 1956. Open pit production began in 1959 from the general area of the underground mine at a rate of 900 tons per day which was increased to 2000 tons per day in 1961 and to 3000 tons per day in 1972. By 1964, 4 open pits, the Old Ironsides, Idaho, Snowshoe and Stemwinder were in operation. By 1973, declining production was supplemented by stockpiled low grade copper ore. Mill feed was also augmented by ore trucked from the Lone Star mine, 20 kilometres to the south in Washington State. An unsuccessful attempt was also made to mill ore from the Oro Denoro mine. Granby terminated mining operations at Phoenix in 1974 and later dismantled and moved the mill. The property was purchased by Noranda Mines Ltd.
No significant work was done on the property until 1981 when Noranda optioned the Phoenix property to Kettle River Resources Ltd., who carried out an exploration program focused on the precious metal potential of the property. In 1985, Kettle River Resources Ltd. and Noranda Explorations Company Limited began a program to evaluate grade and recovery methods on 4,145,835 tonnes of tailings from past production of the Phoenix pit. The Phoenix Tailings are located about 3.5 kilometres northeast of the mine. It was determined that significant gold values were lost in the flotation process.
In 1995, with support from the Explore B.C. Program, Kettle River Resources Ltd. carried out a limited program of sonic drilling and sampling of the Phoenix mine tailings to assess their gold content and determine the economics of re-processing. Metallurgical studies on the sampled material determined that re-grinding and cleaner flotation would produce a concentrate grading approximately 18 per cent copper and 207 grams per tonne gold.
The production figures from the Phoenix area are staggering. From 1900 to 1978 a total of 23,757,325 tons of ore were processed from which 5,884,736 ounces of silver, 911,172 ounces of gold, 519,613,469 ponds of copper, and 1,168 pounds of lead were obtained.