China Creek flows into Alnerni Inlet about six kilometres south of Port Alberni. The road to Bamfield parallels the creek for several kilometres and crosses it about a kilometre upstream from its mouth.
Small-scale placer-mining was carried on as early as 1862, principally by the Chinese, on China Creek and the creek is reported to have been staked for hydraulic leases for 12 miles in the 1890’s. The total placer production is known to exceed $40,000. The gold-quartz veins in the area were found subsequent to the early placer operations.
Large gold veins at the creek’s headwaters are the most likely source of China Creek’s gold. The veins run for the most part mainly in sandstone which is easily eroded.
By 1940 up to 8 properties, including the Black Panther mine, had gone into production. The low gold price and low tonnage potential, among other reasons, hindered further development since then.
Prospecting was active between 1892 and 1900, and by 1895 gold-quartz veins had been found and staked on Mineral Creek, in King Solomon basin at the head of McQuillan Creek, and in the Golden Eagle basin at the head of China Creek. In 1898 an 8-stamp mill was built on Mineral Creek to treat ore from the veins on the Consolidated Alberni (Vancouver Island Gold Mines, Limited), property, but only two clean-ups were made.
Activity had died down by 1900 and little was done in the area until 1933 when Vancouver Island Gold Mines, Limited, began to explore the veins on the Consolidated Alberni ground on Mineral Creek. This company worked for three years and built a 35-ton pilot-mill in 1936, but difficulties of operation forced it to close down all work the same year. That same year, however, gold-quartz veins above King Solomon basin were opened up by the Havilah Gold Mines, Limited, and a small quantity of ore was produced between then and 1939.
Between 1938 and 1942 a small tonnage of high-grade ore was shipped from the Thistle Mine on Franklin Creek. During 1941 active prospecting was carried on by Pioneer Gold Mines of B.C., Limited, and by Bralorne Gold Mines, Limited, on the Black Panther and Black Lion respectively, at the headwaters of the West Fork of the Nitinat River. Since then there has been little activity other than prospecting in the area.
Records show that two properties, those of Vancouver Island Golds, Limited, and Havilah Gold Mines, Limited, have produced 1,565 tons of gold ore containing 562 oz. of gold and 1,386 oz. of silver, and that one property, the Thistle, has produced 6,867 tons of gold-copper ore containing 2,667 oz. of gold, 1,667 oz. of silver, and 626,556 lb. of copper.
Today, the best prospecting areas worth exploring, are along the benches of China Creek. Here you can find many colours to the pan.