Wells, BC, Canada — Barkerville Gold Mines (TSXV:BGM) is operating an open-pit mine at its Bonanza Ledge deposit on Barkerville Mountain, only minutes from the Barkerville historic site. Both are accessed from the Barkerville Highway, about 90 kilometers from Quesnel, 450 kilometers north of Vancouver.
In the 1860s, miners from California and elsewhere came north to the town of Barkerville and the surrounding Cariboo region, building what was once the largest city north of San Francisco, west of Chicago. It is estimated that $30 million worth of gold was produced between 1861 and 1898.
Today, Barkerville Gold is actively mining Bonanza Ledge, which has a measured and indicated resource of 102,000 ounces at a grade of 7.6 grams per tonne. The company is permitted to mine 73,500 tonnes per year and started operations in March of this year. Gold Investing News was invited to visit the site to witness the first pour of a gold dore bar from gold mined from Bonanza Ledge. A prefeasibilty study published in 2009 shows a mine life of four years, but drilling is planned for this year to expand the resource.
Ore from the pit is trucked approximately 110 kilometers over paved and dirt roads using 9 trucks taking three trips per day. It is then delivered to the QR mill, which was purchased by Barkerville in 2010 and has an operating capacity of 900 tonnes per day. The mill is fully operational.
The QR mill and associated gold project were part of Kinross Gold (TSX:K,NYSE:KGC) when it was formed in 1993. The mill closed in 1997 when gold prices didn’t support continued operation. In 2005, the mill and mine were purchased by Cross Lake Minerals, which then sold them to Barkerville.
At the mill, we witnessed the pouring of a gold dore bar weighing in at over 11.5 kilograms. “The very first pour from Bonanza Ledge, 14 years later,” said an enthusiastic Frank Callaghan, director (and former president and CEO) of Barkerville. “We discovered it back in 2000 on the flank of Barkerville Mountain, we did a bulk sample in 2004, financed by Eric Sprott. And then we went from 2004 to 2011 to get a permit to mine. We got the permit in the beginning of December 2011. It’s taken until now to get everything up and running and now it’s running and that’s the first bar.”
While there, Mr. Callaghan took the opportunity to show us around the historic site and point out the broad area that was mined over 150 years ago. Much of the area is now part of Barkerville’s property. A controversial 43-101 report released in June 2012 said there was a geological potential of 65 to 90 million ounces of gold. While Barkerville was forced to retract this report, it is clear the company believes the property is rich in more than just history.
Photo Credits: Eva and Lief Grandell, Studio Grandell Photography.
Securities Disclosure: I, Mike Rodger, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.