The Silver Queen mine is located near Owen Lake, 35 kilometres south of the community of Houston.
The area is primarily underlain by a series of volcanic rocks and intrusions. The volcanic rocks consist mainly of dacites and dacitic andesites which are likely part of the Upper Cretaceous-Eocene Endako Group (Tip Top Hill Formation) which is correlative with the Upper Cretaceous Kasalka Group. A sill-like body of microdiorite intrudes these volcanic rocks and is referred to as the Mine Hill microdiorite which is part of the Late Cretaceous Bulkley Plutonic Suite. This intrusive sill is dated as 74.0 Ma +/- 1.0 Ma (Map 11). The volcanics and microdiorite have been intruded by dikes and sills of porphyritic felsite and by basalt dikes.
The Silver Queen property comprises a number of vein systems while the Silver Queen system/past producer consists primarily of the Wrinch vein system.
Approximately 20 mineralized veins have been discovered. The six main quartz vein systems are the Wrinch, Camp, Portal, Chisholm (093L 216), George Lake and Cole (093L 162) systems. The Camp and Portal are now given as one new MINFILE occurrence, as is the George Lake vein system.
The average width of the veins is 0.9 to 1.2 metres with local increases up to about 4.6 metres. In general, the veins occupy northwest-striking fractures that cut the volcanics, the microdiorite and the felsite porphyry, and the basalt dikes. Chalcopyrite-sphalerite and sphalerite-galena are the two general types of sulphide mineralization occurring in the veins but there are gradations between the two types. Good gold and silver values are generally associated with the chalcopyrite-sphalerite veins. Other sulphide minerals include tetrahedrite, tennantite and pyrite. The gangue is mainly cherty quartz, carbonate minerals such as rhodochrosite and siderite, some barite and rarely pyrobitumen. Local intense alteration of wallrock along veins and fissures has resulted in a mixture of clay and carbonate minerals, some chlorite, minor epidote and disseminated pyrite.
The age of mineralization is thought to be Early Tertiary and probably Eocene. A 1986 report indicates that concentrations of gallium, germanium and indium are also present. Assay results gave values of 20 to 188 grams per tonne (0.0188 per cent) gallium, 20 to 128 grams per tonne germanium (0.0128 per cent), and 17.1 to 25.7 grams per tonne (0.0026 per cent) indium (Property File - Houston Metals Corporation, Press Release, 1986).
The main vein within the Wrinch system is the No. 3, which splits into the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 veins in the northwestern portion of the system. A Footwall vein, sub-parallel to the No. 3, also exists in some locations. The No.3 structure is known to have certain complexities such as abrupt changes in strike or dip which often has associated splays, and possible en echelon structures. Historically, areas of the No. 3 vein have had a number of names including Ruby zone, Ruby Extension and No. 3 Extension, but these are parts of the same structure, if not the same vein. The structure is cut off at its southwest end by the Cole fault and it is presumed that the NG-3 vein is the faulted-off extension of this vein, indicating a displacement of approximately 150 metres to the northeast.
The Wrinch vein system is the most important and has been the focus of most of the mining and development work. The overall strike of the veins is about 130 degrees and is traceable over a length of more than 1300 metres. These veins are generally banded with sphalerite as the predominant sulphide with pyrite, chalcopyrite and galena. The gangue minerals consist mainly of cherty quartz, carbonate minerals (rhodochrosite) and barite. By 1973, a total of 1050 metres of adits and crosscuts plus 810 metres of drifting and raises and 1500 metres of diamond drilling had been completed on the Wrinch vein system.
Widespread alteration on the property is present. The alteration is manifested in the development of numerous limonite and jarosite gossans and appears to be the result of pervasive kaolinization-pyritization. It is thought that the alteration is greater than would normally be if associated with the emplacement of known vein systems. A deep and broad source of mineralizing solutions is suspected and a replacement-type sulphide body is suspected.
The property was brought into production by the Bradina Joint Venture in March of 1972. Known proven and probable reserves left available after operations were terminated in 1973 due to operational, metallurgical and marketing difficulties, were 523,900 tonnes grading 3.70 grams per tonne gold, 257.60 grams per tonne silver, 0.49 per cent copper, 1.49 per cent lead and 6.53 per cent zinc (Property File Rimfire - New Nadina Explorations Ltd., 1983). In the two years of operation, 1972 and 1973, 106,120 tonnes of similar grade material was mined.
An extensive drill program was carried out in 1987 to delineate the Camp vein system, 500 metres southwest of the No. 3 vein, which consists of about five veins striking northwest immediately west of the camp buildings. Inferred reserves for the Camp vein are 204,100 tonnes grading 4.0 per cent zinc, 754.2 grams per tonne silver and 0.89 gram per tonne gold (Open File 1992-1).
Inferred reserves for the No. 3 vein are 632,300 tonnes grading 6.52 per cent zinc, 235.9 grams per tonne silver and 3.49 grams per tonne gold. Inferred reserves for the Footwall vein are 163,200 tonnes grading 6.1 per cent zinc, 310.28 grams per tonne silver and 2.05 grams per tonne gold (Open File 1992-1).
Proven/probable/possible reserves at the Silver Queen property are 1,726,211 tonnes grading 6.19 per cent zinc, 327.71 grams per tonne silver and 2.74 grams per tonne gold (Houston Metals Corp. Annual Report 1988).
The south end of the No. 3 vein has defined reserves of 399,124 tonnes grading 8.29 grams per tonne gold, 401 grams per tonne silver and 7.6 per cent zinc. The central/north end of the No. 3 vein has defined reserves of 644,041 tonnes grading 2.94 grams per tonne gold, 163.8 grams per tonne silver and 5.43 per cent zinc. The Camp vein has inferred reserves of 204,097 tonnes grading 0.99 gram per tonne gold, 829.5 grams per tonne silver and 4 per cent zinc (George Cross News Letter No.61 (March 26), 1996).
Work History (source Assessment Report 34439)
Pre-1985 History - Silver Queen Property
In 1912, mineralization was discovered and three adits driven on the Wrinch vein system. In 1915, 34 tonnes of ore grading 31 per cent lead and 206 grams per tonne silver were shipped from two shallow shafts (Property File Placer Dome - Dawson, 1985).
In 1923, the property was optioned to Federal Mining and Smelting Co. and more than 152.4 metres of drifting was done from the three adits. In 1928, Silver Queen and Cole Lake properties were acquired by Owen Lake Mining and Development Company who sunk the Cole Shaft and completed a 914-metre crosscut.
In 1941, Canadian Exploration (now Placer Development) purchased the Silver Queen claims and optioned the Cole Lake property; surface and underground mapping and sampling was completed. In 1943, the option on the Cole Lake ground was dropped, but work continued on Silver Queen veins until 1947.
In 1963, Nadina Explorations Ltd. optioned the Silver Queen claims; an aggressive program of diamond drilling, trenching, and underground development was done on the No. 3 vein. The Wrinch vein system was traced south to the "Ruby Extension zone". In 1966, Nadina continued underground and surface work on the property, drilling eight surface holes totalling 350.5 metres targeting Jack, Axel and Cole veins. The company also drilled 29 underground holes totalling 730.4 metres targeting No. 3 vein. In 1967, the property was optioned to Kennco Explorations and geological mapping, soil sampling and induced polarization (IP) survey was done. Five holes were completed totalling 460.6 metres looking for a porphyry deposit. In 1968, Nadina continued work on Silver Queen veins, completing soil sampling, trenching, diamond drilling and underground mapping. The company drilled 22 underground holes totalling 201 metres, targeting the No. 3 vein.
In 1969, the British Columbia Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources mapped the entire property in detail, as well as the area surrounding Owen Lake. Nadina completed 1219 metres of drifting, 31 surface drillholes totalling 3243 metres, 20 underground drillholes totalling 1086 metres plus airborne geophysical surveys.
In 1970, Northgate Explorations optioned the property from Nadina and did extensive underground check sampling, 4115 metres of surface drilling, 457 metres of underground drilling and 1280 metres of drifting and raising. In 1971, Bralorne Can-Fer Resources Limited and Pacific Petroleum Ltd. optioned the property, and formed the Nadina Joint Venture. A feasibility study was prepared by Dolmage Campbell and Associates. Surface electromagnetic (EM) and IP surveys, 1829 metres of surface drilling and 244 metres of drifting and raising was completed.
The property was put into production in March, 1972, using equipment from Bralorne's recently closed gold mine in southern British Columbia. Operations ceased September 1973 due to an over design of the mill and complex metallurgy; 190,676 tonnes of ore were mined. Drill indicated reserves (Historical; not National Instrument (NI) 43-101 compliant) on the Wrinch vein system at mine closure were 577,600 tonnes averaging 3.7 grams per tonne gold, 257 grams per tonne silver, 6.53 per cent zinc, 1.49 per cent lead, and 0.49 per cent copper (Assessment Report 34439). During 1972 and 1973, 47 surface holes and 68 underground holes, totalling over 6096 metres were drilled. In 1974, 1798 metres of drilling was completed and the joint venture agreement was terminated.
In 1977, Nadina purchased the Silver Queen property outright; Placer retained back-in rights, which hampered the involvement of larger companies in the property. The property was optioned by New Frontier Petroleum Ltd., the successor company to Frontier Explorations Ltd. which held the Cole Lake property. Limited deep surface drilling was done and the option dropped in 1978.
In 1980, Nadina reorganized as New Nadina Explorations Limited and completed a major program of backhoe trenching as well as surface drilling and rehabilitation of underground workings. In 1981, the rehabilitation was completed, additional drifting was done, and 28 underground and four surface drillholes were drilled totalling over 2428 metres. In 1982, Campbell Resources did detailed re-evaluation of the Silver Queen property and completed limited metallurgical testing. In 1983 to 1984, New Nadina completed 2286 metres of surface diamond drilling in 15 holes.
Pre-1985 History - Cole Lake Property, 093L 162
In 1915, the Cole vein system was staked as the Diamond Belle group. In 1928, the property was acquired, along with the Silver Queen property, by the Owen Lake Mining and Development Company and the Cole shaft was sunk. In 1941, Canadian Exploration optioned the property and completed mapping and sampling. The option was dropped in 1943.
In 1967, considerable trenching and some drilling were done on the Cole Lake veins by Frontier Explorations Ltd., who had acquired the ground in this area in 1960, and completed minor work in the early 1960s.
In 1972, Frontier Explorations did an EM survey, as well as percussion drilling and 457 metres of diamond drilling on the George Lake Lineament vein. In 1980, the company completed backhoe trenching. In 1981, New Frontier sold all its mining interests to Bulkley Silver Resources Ltd., who attempted to raise money to complete the Earl Adit which would intersect the Cole vein system at depth. Insufficient funds were raised and only 30.5 metres of this drive was completed.
In 1985, Bulkley Silver optioned the New Nadina ground to put the entire camp under one management; a Max-Min EM survey and six diamond-drill holes were completed. In 1987, a joint venture was formed between Houston Metals Corp., the successor to Bulkley Silver (later re-organized as Pacific Houston Resources Inc.), and New Nadina. In excess of $7,500,000 was spent on exploration on the property during 1987 and 1988, including 10,688 metres of diamond drilling and 2469 metres of tunnelling, crosscutting, and declining as well as minor metallurgical work. In 1988, a pre-National Instrument (NI) 43-101 resource estimate of indicated reserves was published. Although total proven, probable and possible reserves for the veins have been published at 1.5 million tonnes (Houston Metals Corp. Annual Report 1988), this does not take mineralogical and metallurgical variations into consideration (Note – this figure is not NI 43-101 compliant).
In 1989, the University of British Columbia became involved under an NSERC grant. Numerous studies were done including geological mapping, structural studies, two M.Sc. theses (mineralogy, ore reserves), one Ph.D. thesis (alteration) and a non-NI 43-101 compliant "in situ mining resource" was determined for the central and south areas (refer to Assessment Report 34439).
In 1990, Pacific Houston went bankrupt and New Nadina assumed the debts and purchased the claims outright from Pacific Houston. Also in 1990, an agreement was reached with Placer, whereby Placer signed over all remaining rights to the property. In 1991, New Nadina addressed site remediation, through a study by consultant Tom Higgs, to develop a system of treating zinc-rich mine drainage prior to release into the environment. In 1992, a tailings pond/wetland passive treatment system was implemented to treat mine drainage. In 1993 to the present, there has been ongoing water sampling by New Nadina to test mine drainage as required by the Ministry of Environment.
In 1995 and 1996, New Nadina Explorations abandoned the old Silver 4 claim and re-staked the property as the current Owen 1-5 claims. An Explore BC Grant was obtained to assist in a thorough compilation project of previous data on the property, interpretation of this data and target generation based on the results. The metallurgy of the known ore was also to be addressed and further metallurgical testing to be done if warranted. This proved to be unnecessary. Sampling of water treated by the wetland option indicates that this treatment is working well, however, contamination is occurring in the old mill site/waste dump areas. A significant reclamation program was undertaken to rectify this problem. This reclamation program has been filed for assessment. It is not part of the Explore BC Grant program described in this report. A combined program of satellite imagery analysis, Digital Elevation Modelling and regional aeromagnetics was done to identify regional controls for bulk tonnage mineralization. A re-evaluation of property-scale geophysics was initiated to provide further control.
In May 1996, a spring drill program consisting of five NQ diamond-drill holes were drilled, for a total of 927 metres. In the fall of 1996, a drill program of five NQ diamond-drill holes, totalling 923 metres, were drilled (Private Report by Caron, 1996 as reported by Assessment Report 34439).
In 1998, PIMA short wave spectroscopy ERA Maptec structural report was completed (Private Report by Millar, 1998 as reported in Assessment Report 34439). In 1999, an excavator was used to deepen the existing 75-metre-long trench. The rocky knoll was drilled and blasted for a length of 10 metres, 3 to 4 metres wide and approximately 1.5 metres deep. The rock was removed.
In 2000, tests on samples from Silver Queen were conducted by Quantec Geoscience. In 2005, a 3-D IP survey on two selected areas by SJ Geophysics was conducted and one hole was drilled by Beaupre Drilling. In 2008, trench reclamation was conducted by a local rancher. In 2009, reclamation of trenches east of mine hill was completed as well were raise covers installed and the Cole Shaft was covered. Fences were repaired around raises and the site cleaned.
In 2010, core was re-sampled for verification purposes and a 10-person container camp was installed complete with a septic and water system. A program of geophysics (EM16), soil sampling and 4106.5 metres of NQ2 diamond drilling in 26 holes was conducted. Six holes were drilled from three locations to test the NG-3 Vein to the east- south east. The structure was reported to be narrow but to show good continuity. Drilling yielded intercepts including 4.64 grams per tonne gold, 336.9 grams per tonne silver, 4.89 per cent copper, 0.324 per cent lead and 2.55 per cent zinc over 4.5 metres in hole 10S-24 and 5.41 grams per tonne gold, 101.8 grams per tonne silver, 0.172 per cent copper and 0.158 per cent zinc over 2.5 metres in hole 10S-26, including 9.11 grams per tonne gold, 141.9 grams per tonne silver, 0.217 per cent copper and 0.380 per cent zinc over 0.95 metre (JDS Energy & Mining Inc. (2011-04-18): Technical Report for the Silver Queen Property). The NG-3 vein structure remains open to the southeast and at depth.
A further four holes were completed on the Swamp zone, to the south east, yielded intercepts including 2.01 grams per tonne gold, 250.9 grams per tonne silver, 0.715 per cent copper, 1.176 per cent lead and 3.024 per cent zinc over 3.5 metres in hole 10S-15, 9.38 grams per tonne gold, 145.0 grams per tonne silver, 0.184 per cent copper, 1.96 per cent lead and 11.4 per cent zinc over 0.15 metre in hole 10S-14 and 2.34 grams per tonne gold, 158 grams per tonne silver, 2.49 per cent lead and 6.19 per cent zinc over 0.95 metre in hole 10S-13(JDS Energy & Mining Inc. (2011-04-18): Technical Report for the Silver Queen Property).
In 2011, New Nadina conducted a 13-hole drill program totalling 4490.2 metres of drilling directed at two targets. Three of the seven holes drilled in Titan Target B were successful in intersecting encouraging-grade copper-molybdenum-gold mineralization. The drilling was guided by ZTEM and Quantum 24 geophysical surveys lead to the discovery of the Itsit Porphyry, a porphyry copper-molybdenum-gold deposit. The aeromagnetic and electromagnetic survey covered 708.4 lines-kilometres and covered all mineral occurrences on the Silver Queen property including: the Silver Creek (Wrinch), Camp, Portal, Chisholm, George Lake and Cole systems and the Itsit porphyry.
From November 2012 to February 2013, six HQ/NQ2 holes totalling 4413.3 metres were drilled on the new Itsis porphyry prospect. Results expanded the known extent of copper-molybdenum-gold mineralization on the Silver Queen property and showed that the Target B IP chargeability anomaly is associated with porphyry-style mineralization.
In 2016, New Nadina Explorations Ltd. reported that "landowners' opposition has inhibited entry onto the land since 2012, and thus far, there has been no right-to-entry order granted under the Mineral Tenure Act supporting the mineral tenure holder's right to access. Multiple delays to refute landowners' opposition have followed the decision, upholding the company's right of entry after the Court of Appeal for British Columbia decision (June 2, 2015). It is hoped that a right-of-entry order will allow the company to conduct its planned drill program" (Press Release - New Nadina Explorations Ltd., September 8, 2016).
In 2017, New Nadina Explorations Ltd. diamond drilled a total of 2158.5 metres in three holes at their Silver Queen project. Results included 0.4 metre of 120 grams per tonne silver, 1.29 grams per tonne gold, 1.41 per cent copper, and 3 metres of 120 grams per tonne silver, 0.24 gram per tonne gold and 0.5 per cent copper (Information Circular 2018-1, page 21.)
In 2018, New Nadina Explorations Ltd. completed three diamond drill holes, totalling 3052.5 metres, on the Blue zone. Drilling yielded intercepts of up to 0.43 gram per tonne gold, 323 grams per tonne silver, 1.1 per cent copper, 2.95 per cent lead and 8.07 per cent zinc over 1.7 metres, 0.67 gram per tonne gold, 20.8 grams per tonne silver and 1.5 per cent copper over 16.3 metres and 4.58 grams per tonne gold, 270 grams per tonne silver, 3.0 per cent copper, 0.37 per cent lead and 3.23 per cent zinc over 1.7 metres in hole 18S-02 (Burga, D. (2019-08-19): Initial Mineral Resource Estimate and Technical Report on the Number 3 Vein, Silver Queen Property).
In 2019, an updated mineral resource for the Silver Queen occurrence was reported at 815,000 tonnes indicated grading 6.35 per cent zinc, 3.24 grams per tonne gold, 201.4 grams per tonne silver, 0.26 per cent copper and 0.96 per cent lead with an additional 801,000 tonnes inferred grading 5.21 per cent zinc, 2.49 grams per tonne gold, 184.3 grams per tonne silver, 0.31 per cent copper and 0.88 per cent lead, using a C$100/t cut-off (Burga, D. (2019-08-19): Initial Mineral Resource Estimate and Technical Report on the Number 3 Vein, Silver Queen Property).