The Fraser Canyon (or Tertiary) placer gold occurrence is located 18 kilometres northwest of Quesnel adjacent to the Fraser River, within an old river channel of probable Upper Tertiary (perhaps Miocene) age. The workings on the north side of the river are known as the Tertiary mine while the south side workings are known as the Canyon mine. The deposit has been worked since 1917 and records indicate that approximately 68,560 grams of gold have been recovered from the Tertiary mine up to 1926 when the channel was lost. Subsequent work has focused on attempting to locate the extension of this channel with little success.
The gold, which has been mined by underground methods, is mainly coarse and occurs within well-cemented gravels at the gravel-bedrock interface. The gold-bearing basal conglomerate, the "Tertiary conglomerate", is interbedded with gravel, clay and lignite and is believed to be correlative with the mid-Miocene Fraser Bend Formation. The conglomerate is up to 9.6 metres thick. The conglomerate rests on highly folded and fractured black siltite and phyllite correlative with the Upper Triassic Takla Group. The bedrock contains numerous quartz pods and stringers which contain trace gold and silver.
A sampling program in 1985 resulted in values ranging from 1.928 to 12.69 grams gold per cubic metre (1.474 to 9.70 grams gold per cubic yard). The average overall value obtained from the six samples was $75.21 per cubic metre ($57.50 per cubic yard) (George Cross Newsletter #14, 1985). In 1986, 14,131.3 cubic metres (10,804.1 cubic yards) were mined from the Canyon mine resulting in 14,453 grams of gold and 1383 grams of silver (Assessment Report 17524).
Recent work has outlined a channel, 300 metres wide by 200 metres deep and 6300 metres long, 3 kilometres north of the Tertiary mine which contains the gold-bearing conglomerate. Estimates indicate that there are 1,802,367 cubic metres (1,378,000 cubic yards) of the conglomerate present and based on previous recorded grades from the Tertiary mine, this would indicate 3,906,561 to 7,813,122 grams of gold (137,800 to 275,600 ounces of gold) (Assessment Report 17524).
"Data from the Cariboo mining district indicate that supergene leaching of gold dispersed within massive sulphides by Tertiary deep weathering followed by Cenozoic erosion is the most likely explanation for the occurrence of coarse gold nuggets in Quaternary sediments" (Exploration in British Columbia 1989, page 147).
Tertiary Mine Work History (Assessment Report 19667):
Both mines are on the same channel which has a southeasterly trend and a 2 per cent gradient to the southeast. The channel crosses the Fraser River immediately southwest of the claim block. The early history of both mines is outlined by Douglas Lay in Bulletin 3 (1940) and Bulletin 11 (1941) and Minister of Mines Annual Reports. Between 1907 and 1917, a D. Killam recovered about 2835 grams of gold (1000 ounces) from some 198 metres (650 feet) of drifting on the channel upstream at the Tertiary mine. In the Minister of Mines Annual Reports for 1926 and 1934, about 457 metres (1500 feet) of the channel had been mined from the portal northward in the Tertiary mine on the north side of the Fraser River. Work was suspended in 1926 by which time about another 2835 grams of gold (1000 ounces) had been recovered by D.D. Fraser and his partner. In 1985 through 1987, extensive exploration work including refraction seismic surveys and drilling was carried out by Mine Quest Exploration Associates Ltd. in the area of the Tertiary mine. During the fall of 1989, MineQuest Exploration Associates Ltd. (operating on behalf of QPX Minerals Inc., to whom the property was optioned in 1988) commissioned a seismic refraction survey and drilling program to further define and test the northern end of the paleo-channel. Four drillholes totalling 499.4 metres were drilled on the presumed channel extension to the north called the North Target between November 1989 and January 1990. The holes were designed to test for gold-bearing cemented conglomerate in a channel defined by seismic surveys. Gold values were not considered significant.
Canyon mine history (Assessment Report 19667):
The first record of work on the Canyon mine, located on the south side of the Fraser River, was in 1932 when S.R. Craft prospected the channel exposure. The Minister of Mines Annual Report for 1933 reports that the property belonged to J.A. Wade and A.E. McGregor. There is no record of early gold production from the Canyon mine but it was thoroughly prospected. In a 1983 report by A.D. Tidsbury, it states that about 110 metres (360 feet) of drifting was done along the contact between the gravel and bedrock. Some gold values were reported by Canyon Resources in 1983. The average gold yield of five samples was 13.7 grams of copper per metre (0.442 ounces of copper per yard).
In 1985, the Canyon mine was acquired by All Star Resources Ltd. who carried out an underground test program. In January, All Star reported that the explored part of the channel contained 6520 cubic metres (8528 cubic yards) grading 6 grams per square metre (0.1772 ounces per square yard); the total contained would be 42,836 grams (1511 ounces) gold (Assessment Report 15768). Gold values per cubic metre were encouraging and in 1986 All Star Resources Ltd. completed a 160 metre (525 foot) decline to intersect the old workings. Using conventional underground mining methods, the channel was followed for about 235 metres (770 feet). Thirteen crosscuts to the rims of the channel were also put in during the season. The company reports that about 7645 cubic metres (10,000 cubic yards) of material were processed and 11,952 grams (421.6 ounces) of gold were recovered and 1134 grams (40 ounces) of silver. Additional underground mining was carried out during the 1988 season by All Star Resources but progress was hampered by faulting and heavy ground. A surface diamond drilling program consisting of six shallow (maximum depth of 100 metres) widely-spaced holes was completed in January 1989 in the immediate area of the underground mine. Two holes were reported to have intersected significant gold-bearing bedrock sections. Recent re-evaluation of this drilling has outlined gold-related anomalous geochemical zones but failed to confirm the original results, which may have been contaminated.
Between 1989 and 2009, there has been very little exploration or development work done to the area. In 2009, CVG Mining Ltd. acquired the Fraser Canyon property and conducted geophysical surveys on the Canyon and Tertiary mines and determined it would be worthwhile to dewater the mine for further testing. Dewatering of the mine, as well as a water sampling regime to test runoff, was completed in order for CVG Mining Ltd. to expand the mining operation and determine the value.
As of spring 2013, Omineca Mining and Metals Ltd. is in the process of taking over CVG Mining Ltd. and will obtain the rights to Fraser Canyon mine. Omineca Mining and Metals Ltd. completed a geophysical program consisting of induced polarization/resistivity and magnetometer surveying totalling 4400 metres.