The Gold Belt property covers ground located west of the Motherlode (082FSW041) and Golden Belle (082FSW043)mines, between Sheep Creek on the south and the south slope of Reno Mountain on the north, some 11 kilometres southeast of Salmo. The principal claims include the Joint (Lot 8344) (082FSW254), Double Joint (Lot 8345), Navada (Lot 8869) (082FSW045), and Columbia (Lot 8870).
The initial discovery of a galena-bearing quartz vein in limestone at about the 1676 metres elevation was staked in or before 1897 as the Joint and Double Joint claims. A 29-metre inclined shaft was subsequently sunk on the Joint claim. Other discoveries in 1905 led to the staking of the Navada and Columbia at about 1371 metres elevation. The Joint and Double Joint claims were Crown-granted in 1909 to J.E. Read and associates. The Navada and Columbia were Crown-granted in 1911 to H. Amas and A. Pool. The Columbia had been bonded in 1909 to Warner & associates. An adit was driven 67 metres on one of several narrow parallel veins. A 51-metre adit was driven on the Navada claim. The claims had been inactive for many years when acquired by the Lakes brothers who organized a private company, Gold Belt Mining Company, Limited, which was incorporated in April 1932. This company voluntarily wound up in February 1933 and a public company of the same name was incorporated in March 1933. Work by the companies from June 1932 until the spring of 1935 was concentrated on developing the two upper levels (200 and 600 levels), driven from the corner of the Clyde claim (082FSW042) into the Bruce Fr., Sunbeam Fr., and Double Joint claims.
A theory put forth in 1934 that the favorable host rock lay on the crest of an anticline and should occur at depth led to North American Mines, Inc. acquiring an option on a share interest in Gold Belt Mining. At the instigation of North American, several holes were drilled down from the 600 level (altitude 1538 metres) in the late spring of 1935 to confirm the presence of the quartzites, and in the latter part of that year a long low-level crosscut (1,850 level) was driven at the 1158 metres elevation to explore these favourable beds. By July of the following year this crosscut had been driven 960 metres from the portal and several veins had been intersected. Drifts totalling 288 metres on the 2360 vein, 130 metres on the 2590 vein, and 122 metres on the 3040 vein revealed no orebodies; with few exceptions the assays indicated subcommercial grade. After almost 1524 metres of workings on the 1850 level had yielded no ore, the management was reluctant to expend more money on exploration, but one other vein zone exposed in the crosscut was tested. This vein zone had been intersected 457 metres from the adit portal in argillaceous schists, and it would be necessary to drift westward for several hundred metres before favourable wallrocks would be encountered. The sole encouragement for this work was the fact that a small amount of ore had been recovered from surface workings (the Columbia adits) in what appeared to be this vein zone. The distance from the crosscut to the quartzites proved even greater than had been anticipated amounting to slightly more than 259 metres, but a few metres beyond the eastern edge of the quartzites, on what is now known as the 8000 vein, the drift entered a low-grade oreshoot, and a few hundred metres farther west higher-grade ore averaging almost 1 metre in width was encountered. The results of development on this vein and on a parallel vein 61 metres to the north were so encouraging that another crosscut, the 2100, was driven from the 1098 metre elevation and 610 metres southwest of the 1850 level to explore these veins 76 metres lower. This crosscut intersected another vein, the 6600, which had been prospected in the early part of the century, and which had yielded a few tons of ore from the Navada adit. The 8000 vein at the 2100 level contained three orebodies, but the work on the 8200 vein disclosed only subcommercial grades. A 150 ton per day cyanide mill was put into operation in October 1938. The development work from 1935 and mill construction were financed by North American under the option agreement, giving them a controlling interest in Gold Belt Mining. In 1941 work began to drive a raise from the 1400 level to connect with the old 600 level but was not completed before the suspension of development work in July 1942. The mine closed in July 1943 due to wartime conditions. Development work during the period 1939-42 totalled about 6096 metres of drifts, crosscuts and raises.
In the fall of 1945 about 305 metres of drifting and crosscutting was carried out on the 600 level. A raise from 1400 level was advanced 152 metres to the 600 level. Development work in 1946 included 500 metres of drifting, 459 metres of crosscutting, and 143 metres of raise. This work exposed an ore shoot 52 metres on 1100 level on 3500 vein between 1400 and 1100 levels. In 1947 about 3352 metres of drifting and crosscutting was done in exploring the 3040 and 3500 veins westward on the 1100, 1400, and 1600 levels. The mine closed at the end of March 1947. The mill equipment was sold in 1948 and the mill building demolished by a snowslide in 1949. Gold Belt Mining Company, Limited was dissolved in 1950 and all its assets transferred to the parent company North American Mines, Inc. Lessees shipped small amounts of ore in 1950. A. Burgess & Associates of Salmo mined a small amount of ore from 3500 vein east on No. 14 level in 1951. Lessee A. Endersby mined small remnants of ore during the period 1958-1967.
Goldbelt Mines Inc. was incorporated in July 1976 to acquire the property. By 1979 the company had paid the entire purchase price under the option agreement with North American Mines, Inc. Work to 1980 included rehabilitation of the workings, the installation of equipment, and raising on one of the veins. Probable and possible reserves in the 1067 metres vein were estimated in 1978 at 15,658 tonnes at 15.05 grams per tonne gold (Northern Miner, April 10, 1980). About 900 tonnes of ore were shipped to Trail in 1979 and by April 1990 about 3600 tonnes were stockpiled. In 1981, 3 new levels were being driven on the 3500 vein and a start was made in shipping 6350 tonnes grading 8.57 grams per tonne gold to the nearby HB mill of David Minerals Ltd. Exploration outlined 36,290 tonnes of proven ore grading better than 17.1 grams per tonne gold (Northern Miner, December 17, 1981). In April 1982, operations were suspended after 9070 tonnes were stockpiled.
The Sheep Creek mining camp consists of auriferous sulphide mineralization within a regional system of quartz veins controlled by faults. The camp hosts four distinct fault/fracture systems. All productive veins are associated with faults trending northeast and dipping southeast. The veins are particularly productive where they cross the axis of the two regional, northerly trending anticlines which dominate the geology of the camp. In addition there are a few northwest trending strike-slip faults, north trending normal faults and flat faults, on which the hanging wall has been thrust westwards.
Ore occurs in shoots and is almost without exception confined to parts of fault zones in which one or both walls are quartzite. Other parts of the veins are either too narrow or low grade to be economic. The ore shoots are found at the intersection of northeast faults with quartzite stratigraphy, particularly the Upper Nugget and Upper Navada Members of the Quartzite Range Formation and to a lesser extent the Reno Formation. Both of these formations are of Hadrynian-Lower Cambrian age and are part of the Hamill Group. The underlying Motherlode quartzite is, without obvious reason, almost completely barren of economic gold mineralization. The veins contain a quartz gangue containing pyrite with lesser amounts of pyrrhotite, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite and rare visible gold. Precious metal grades are exceedingly variable and zones of high grade appear to be distributed randomly. Such zones or ore shoots are rarely greater than a few tens of metres in size.
Throughout the camp, economic mineralization is found within a vertical range of less than 500 metres in any given vein and from north to south this vertical range occurs at progressively lower elevations. At the north end of the camp near Reno Mountain, the economic zone lies at about 1675 to 2150 metres elevation and at the south end near Mount Waldie, the zone is entirely below 915 metres above sea level. The veins may occur above the economic zone but are generally too narrow, and below the zone the veins usually persist but are commonly wider and of lower grade. Higher grades of greater than 150 grams per tonne are generally restricted to the top of the zone.
The Gold Belt occurrence consists of two main veins and several lesser parallel fractures. The major production was from the 8200 vein (Columbia) and the 8000 vein (Gold Belt) which lie within the western overturned anticline. The veins crosscut Lower and Upper Navada Member quartzites of the Quartzite Range Formation and extend east and west into the Reno Formation and Lower Cambrian Laib Formation. Ore zones were almost entirely within Lower Navada Member quartzites and to a lesser extent in the Upper Navada Member. As the veins pass into the Reno Formation they become narrow and uneconomic. Mineralization consists of quartz and crushed country rock with disseminated pyrite, galena and sphalerite. Visible free gold was present in much of the ore. Oxidation was shallow or absent in these veins.
A total of 236,502 tonnes of ore were mined between 1934 and 1979, from which was recovered 2,512,906 grams of gold, 1,061,298 grams of silver, 681 kilograms of copper, 10,457 kilograms of lead and 6,605 kilograms of zinc. Some of the ore mined may have come from other nearby sources such as the Bluestone occurrence (082FSW037).
In 1987, Lightning Minerals Inc. completed a program of geological mapping, soil sampling and ground geophysical surveys on the area.
During 2008 through 2016, Yellowstone Resources Ltd. examined the area. In 2016, limited chip sampling was completed on the 8000 vein. Later in 2016, Margaux Resources Ltd. completed a small program of sampling of select areas of the Gold Belt 1850 level underground workings. A chip sample from the 3040 vein yielded 10.2 grams per tonne gold over 1.2 metres (Lane, R.A. (2017-08-17): NI 43-101 Technical Report on the Sheep Creek Project).