Placer gold deposits of the Quesnel Highland region, including the former rich producers of the Barkerville camp, have accounted for a large proportion of British Columbia's alluvial gold production. With the exception of a few producers in the Wingdam area, which are underlain by Upper Triassic sediments correlative with the Nicola Group, almost all the deposits are underlain by the Upper Proterozoic to Lower Paleozoic Snowshoe Group. These predominantly metasedimentary rocks have been metamorphosed to greenschist facies.
Placer gold deposits in the region are generally found in relatively young Pleistocene gravels. The morphology and mineral associations of the gold suggests that it was derived locally, the most obvious sources are the numerous auriferous veins in the Downey succession of the Snowshoe Group.
One stretch of Sugar Creek has been placer mined extensively. The depth to bedrock in many parts of this stretch is quite shallow. Remnants of a low rock bench a short distance above creek level have also been worked. Most of Sugar Creek is underlain by Snowshoe Group rocks although the lower part of the creek is near the contact with the Slide Mountain and Cariboo groups. Coarse gold and nuggets of galena, which yielded 3291 grams of silver in 1984, are present in the creek. Samples of bedrock also assayed high in silver. An attempt has been made to trace the source of the coarse gold, with no success.
"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).
Placer gold has been found, and worked, on Sugar Creek since the early 1860s, but this stream has never been regarded as an important source of production. Early records of gold production are incomplete, and despite the fact that the creek is known to have been worked, there is no recorded production of gold prior to 1879. From 1879 to 1895 the estimated combined production of Hardscrabble and Sugar Creeks totalled about 5,180 ounces (161,098 grams), but the actual amount recovered from Sugar Creek itself is not known. From 1913 to 1942, 257 ounces (7993 grams) have been recorded from Sugar Creek, while between 1937 and 1941, 229 ounces (7122 grams) have been recorded from Cooper Creek.
In 1952, R. M. Van Bibber, employing a crew of three men, drill-tested Sugar Creek flat immediately below Cooper Creek.
In 1989, Golden Opportunity Mining Ltd. carried out a seismic refraction survey in the in the upper reaches of Sugar Creek (Assessment Report 19537). In all, a total of 850 metres of survey work was carried out. Results indicate depths to bedrock vary from a minimum of 0 metres to a maximum of 17 metres.
Refer to Tom Mountain (093H 077) for some related historical information.