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File Created: 24-Jul-1985 by BC Geological Survey (BCGS)
Last Edit:  07-May-2007 by Nicole Robinson (NR)

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NMI 092L11 Cu1
Name ISLAND COPPER, BAY, P Mining Division Nanaimo
BCGS Map 092L053
Status Past Producer NTS Map 092L11W
Latitude 050º 35' 59'' UTM 09 (NAD 83)
Longitude 127º 28' 30'' Northing 5606424
Easting 607924
Commodities Copper, Molybdenum, Silver, Gold, Zinc, Lead, Rhenium Deposit Types L04 : Porphyry Cu +/- Mo +/- Au
Tectonic Belt Insular Terrane Wrangell
Capsule Geology

The region is underlain by northwest trending belts of Upper Triassic volcanic rocks and sediments of the Vancouver Group (Karmutsen and Quatsino formations) and Lower Jurassic Bonanza Group volcanic rocks and sediments. These rocks have been intruded by stocks of the Early-Middle Jurassic Island Plutonic Suite.

The Island Copper deposit lies within moderately south dipping brecciated tuff, lapilli and tuff breccia of andesitic and basaltic composition, which comprise the lower part of the Bonanza Group pyroclastic sequence. These volcanic rocks are cut by a digitating quartz feldspar porphyry dyke trending 290 degrees and dipping 60 degrees north.

Breccias with volcanic and intrusive fragments cap the dyke and occur along its margins. Brecciation is less intense a short distance outward from the porphyry and within about 60 metres the dislocated breccia gives way to systems of intense fracturing (crackle breccia). On its northwest end the dyke is capped by pyrophyllite breccia (110 metres wide and traceable for 1100 metres along strike); to the southeast the dyke plunges under Bonanza rocks. Where it is least altered, the dyke exhibits a granodiorite composition.

The host rocks have been subjected to contact thermal metamorphism and hydrothermal alteration. The metamorphic aureole can be subdivided into an inner zone 100 metres wide adjacent to the dyke and characterized by biotite and magnetite; an intermediate transitional chlorite zone (180 metres wide); and an outer epidote zone 350 metres wide. The ore is associated with the biotite zone and the inner part of the chlorite zone.

The hydrothermal alteration affects small volumes of rock (fractures, quartz-carbonate veinlets) and is closely related to fracturing and brecciation. This alteration resulted in assemblages termed the chlorite-sericite, sericite, pyrophyllite (pyrophyllite, dumortierite, kaolin) and "Yellow Dog" (rusty orange dolomite) types. In the volcanic rocks there is an inner pyrophyllite zone, a central sericite zone, and an outer chlorite-sericite zone. In the quartz- feldspar porphyry, there is an inner sericite zone and an outer chlorite-sericite zone. The pyrophyllite breccia has a mineral assemblage characteristic of the pyrophyllite-type alteration. Marginal breccias have mineral assemblages of sericite and pyrophyllite types. "Yellow Dog" alteration is confined to "Yellow Dog" breccias, characterized by rusty brown fracture-fillings of ferroan dolomite.

The orebody is divided into the hanging wall and footwall ore zones. The hanging wall zone is a roughly tabular body 60 to 180 metre wide and approximately 1700 metres long, continuing to a depth of 300 metres below surface (Cargill, 1976). This zone strikes 290 degrees and dips 60 degrees north. The footwall ore zone is not as well defined as the hanging wall zone. A small amount of ore occurs within the dyke, however, most quartz feldspar porphyry is unmineralized.

Although pyrite is the most abundant sulphide, chalcopyrite and molybdenite are the only sulphides recovered. Sphalerite and galena occur erratically in carbonate veinlets within and peripheral to the ore zone. Bornite has been observed in the ore zone in negligible quantities. Oxide minerals include magnetite, hematite and leucoxene.

Chalcopyrite occurs in dry fractures on slip surfaces and locally as disseminations. It also occurs in minor amounts in quartz veins with molybdenite, in carbonate veins with sphalerite, and in veins with pyrite. Gold and silver are recovered from the chalcopyrite concentrate.

Molybdenite occurs principally on slip surfaces and less abundantly in quartz veins and hairline fractures with chalcopyrite. Molybdenum concentrates contain between 1800 and 2400 parts per million rhenium (calculated to 100 per cent MoS2).

Based upon potassium-argon dating of the nearby Rupert Inlet stock and geological relationships between the stock, the porphyry dyke and the Island Copper orebody, mineralization probably occurred about 154 million years ago (Geology, Exploration and Mining in British Columbia 1972, page 297).

During its operating life from 1971 to 1995 inclusive, the Mine produced about 1227 million kilograms of copper, 35,268 kilograms of gold, 294,106 kilograms of silver (probably 360,800 kilograms of silver), 32 million kilograms of molybdenum and 236 kilograms of rhenium from 367 million tonnes of ore.

BHP Minerals Canada Ltd. ceased mining operations in July 1995 and finished milling of surface stockpiles by the end of the year. Reserves estimated by the company at January 1, 1995 were 23.4 million tonnes grading 0.33 per cent copper, 0.02 per cent molybdenum, 0.16 gram per tonne gold and 1.2 grams per tonnes silver. Some of this material will be left in the south wall of the pit (Information Circular 1996-1, page 6). The open pit was flooded in May 1996 and reclamation work continued for two years. A saw mill and lumber kiln, utilizing mine buildings and facilities, are being established at the mine site.

In 1998, BHP received the 1997 British Columbia Mine Reclamation Award.

In November 1999, GTN Copper Technology Ltd. of Sydney Australia (with an office in Englewood, California) announced their intention to develop an $80 million copper processing plant employing approximately 70 persons at the former Island Copper Mine site near Port Hardy. The facility will import copper concentrate from mines in Western Canada, the U.S. and South America, with initial capacity to process 50,000 tons of copper per year, with potential to increase production to over 200,000 tons.

Bibliography
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