History Of Exploration
Very little was known about the geological controls, type of gold mineralization or morphology of the ore-bodies within the Hozameen fault system and the associated Coquihalla serpentine and Coquihalla gold belts until recently.
Attention was first drawn to the mineral potential of the region in the 1850’s when placer gold was discovered along the Fraser River. In 1868, the first Crown granted claim in mainland British Columbia was awarded covering the Eureka and Van Bremer silver mines located on Silver Peak, approximately 9 kilometres south of Hope. By the turn of the century, several gold-bearing quartz veins had been discovered adjacent to the eastern edge of what was later called the Coquihalla serpentine belt. One property on Siwash Creek, the Ward, had minor gold production in 1905 and 1911. Exploration
activity increased after the opening of the Kettle Valley railway along Coquihalla River valley in 1910.
Total production from the five mines in the Coquihalla gold belt was 1473 kilograms of gold from just over 800,000 tonnes of ore mined. Over 90 per cent of the gold came from the Carolin mine, and information on the early producers such as the Ward, Aurum and the Pipestem mines is poorly documented and unreliable.
The abandoned Emancipation gold mine is situated approximately 2.5 kilometres southeast of the Carolin mine, close to Tangent Creek, a small tributary of the Coquihalla River. A total of approximately 90.1 kilograms of gold and 18.8 kilograms of silver was mined from 578 tonnes of ore milled, making it the second largest gold producer in the belt after the Carolin mine. The zone of wallrock alteration around the Emancipation mine is depleted in potassium and enriched in sodium which suggests a possible link with the rich replacement gold mineralization at the Carolin mine and the McMaster zone. It is possible that the quartz veins near the Gypsy King adit represent an offset southern extension of the Emancipation vein system. Consequently, the area between the Gypsy adit and Tangent Creek warrants more detailed prospecting.
The old Aurum mine workings are situated on the north side of the Ladner Creek valley, approximately 300 to 350 metres south of the outcrop of the Carolin orebody. The deposit was discovered in 1927 when several shoots containing spectacular free gold were located within a talcose shear along the East Hozameen fault. Several adits were driven and sporadic production between 1930 and 1942 reportedly totaled 16.5 kilograms of gold from 494 tonnes ore. Gold at the Aurum property is mostly free and is locally associated with sulphides. The gold is not evenly distributed throughout the talc zone, but is concentrated in pockets and veinlets. Identical sulphides at both the Aurum and Carolin, suggests the mineralization at both mines are genetically and temporally related.
The Carolin gold mine is located about 20 kilometres northeast of Hope on the northwest side of Ladner Creek at an approximate elevation of 1070 metres (3500 feet) above sea level. The property (originally called the Idaho claims) was first staked in 1915. During its three years of operation, the Carolin mine produced a total of 1354 kilograms of gold from 799,199 tonnes of ore. During the life of the mining operation there were several periods of shutdown resulting from environmental concerns and poor gold recoveries. These and other difficulties resulted in the the closure of the mine at the end of 1984.
The Pipestem mine is situated about 3 kilometres northwest of the Carolin mine, on the divide between Ladner and Siwash creeks at an elevation of approximately 1220 metres (4000 feet). The property was worked in the 1920’s and 1930’s and the workings included several open cuts, one shaft 10 metres deep, at least four adits and extensive exploratory crosscuts, drifts and raises. The most extensive workings were started in 1932 on the No. 4 level and a mill was built immediately below the No. 4 adit portal. The British Columbia mineral inventory database (MINFILE) records a total production of approximately 8.5 kilograms of gold from 1498 tonnes of ore milled between 1935 and 1937. However the large size of some of the mineralized raises driven from the No. 3 and 4 levels, together with the high grade of the concentrate found in the old mill circuits, suggests that total gold production was probably higher than the 8.5 kilograms reported. Following the closure of the mine in 1937, no serious work was undertaken in the area until the 1970’s and 1980’s when Carolin Mines Ltd. constructed roads to the minesite, reopened some of the adits and completed a geochemical, geophysical and diamond-drilling program.
The Ward claims (Ward and No. 2 Ward) were located on the east side of the south fork of Siwash Creek, close to its confluence with the middle and north forks. Total production from the Ward mine is reported as 4.2 kilograms of gold from an unknown quantity of ore milled.
Gold Occurrences In The Coquihalla Gold Belt
In addition to the five past-producing mines, the Coquihalla gold belt contains at least 25 gold occurrences all associated with the Hozameen fault system.
Some of these other occurrences included the Broken Hill, Snowstorm, South Fork Group, Fifteen Mile Group, Montana, McMaster Zone, Rush Of The Bull, Golden Cache, Murphy, Star, Home X, Gem, Georgia, Gold Queen, Emigrant, Roddick, Marvel, Spuz G, Monument, Spuz AN, Majestic, Gold Coin, and Gold Cord.
Placer platinum and gold are reported in the stream gravels of Sowaqua Creek, approximately 8 kilometres above its confluence with the Coquihalla River. Early exploration work included sinking at least three shafts into the stream bed, the deepest of which was 18 metres long and did not reach bedrock. Operations reported yielded values of $4400 in gold and $600 in platinum. Most of the platinum and gold is confined to the finer grained glacial deposits that underlie the coarser grained streambed material and it is suggested that the precious metals originated from outside the Sowaqua Creek basin. However, as the creek drains areas underlain by ultramafic and gabbroic rocks of the Coquihalla serpentine belt, the platinum may be locally derived and the Coquihalla serpentine belt may warrant evaluation for platinum-group potential.
A little placer gold production has been reported along the shores of Serpentine Lake, situated on the divide between the Coquihalla River and Sowaqua Creek.
Most of the gold production in the Coquihalla gold belt was derived from deposits located less than 200 metres east of the fault. The area between the Emancipation mine and Spider Peak, contains most of the sediment-hosted gold occurrences, including the Carolin deposit. The geology, mineralization, wallrock alteration and tectonic setting of the Coquihalla gold belt exhibit many similarities to the Bralorne deposit in the Bridge River camp of British Columbia and to the Mother Lode gold belt in the Sierra Nevada of California.
The potential for new discoveries within the Coquihalla Gold Belt will provide an enormous opportunity for those willing to take the time to investigate.