Prospecting for minerals, particularly precious metals, was a major factor in the early settlement of British Columbia, with everything from gold, silver, lead and zinc, to copper and molybdenum. Recently, there has been a rapidly growing interest in prospecting for precious stones.
Prospector Bob Yorke-Hardy, formerly of Smithers, discovered the Klinker opal deposit in 1991 and has since developed the Okanagan property into the first working opal mine in Canada.
The Eagle Creek Provincial Park outside of Burns Lake is a great spot for finding opals. Located about 6.5 kilometres from Burns Lake, mineral collecting is permitted. It is about a 30 minute walk from the picnic area. Fire opals have been found here, but no precious opals.
One of the most exciting finds is Bruce Holden’s North Lights claim. It sits in the alpine area north of Tahtsa Lake and Tweedsmuir Park, 90 kilometres south of Houston. Still in the explorative stages, the Northern Lights property has yielded a combination of common and precious opals, as well as many top-quality agates.
From Ogden Mountain near Germanson Landing to Cassiar, Northern B.C. has always been known for its jade deposits. Top-quality nephrite jade was pitched into waste piles by miners, where it was picked up by the Chinese and shipped back to China.
Cassiar jade is unusual in that it contains specks of uvarolite (chrome bearing) garnet, one of the rarest of gemstones, which gives the jade its brighter emerald-green color.
In the fall of 1998, Expatriate Resources Inc. discovered emeralds at the Goal Net Property in the Finlayson Lake District of southeast Yukon. In June of 2001, True North Gems acquired the Regal Ridge Emerald project from Expatriate Resources, and has produced numerous small, gem-quality emeralds with excellent color and clarity.
You never know what is waiting out there for today’s prospector. British Columbia has a vast wealth of virgin mineral resources other than just gold and silver.