The Big Valley Creek placer gold deposit is located on the south side of Big Valley Creek, near the junction with Lottie Creek, approximately 75 kilometres northeast of Quesnel and 25 kilometres north of Wells.
Placer gold deposits of the Quesnel Highland region, including the former rich producers of the Barkerville camp, have accounted for a large proportion of BC'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 suggest that it was derived locally; the most obvious sources are the numerous auriferous veins in the Downey succession of the Snowshoe Group. Studies in the Cariboo mining district indicate the most likely explanation for the presence of coarse gold nuggets in Quaternary sediments is supergene leaching of gold dispersed within massive sulphides by Tertiary deep weathering followed by Cenozoic erosion.
Coarse gold occurs in the upper few metres of the surface gravels on the valley slopes and can be recovered from moss mats. Previous hydraulic mining operations at the site have exposed approximately 10 metres of poorly sorted, crudely bedded gravels and diamicton. These exposures have been interpreted as colluvial deposits formed by debris-flow events that most likely occurred during paraglacial times before the slopes were stabilized by vegetation and are similar to alluvial fan sediments; however, there is no pronounced fan morphology due to the absence of a well-developed fan-head channel. In the 1990s, gold was recovered from a small open-pit mine at the base of an old hydraulic mine. Surface placer mining operations have been undertaken at various points along Big Valley Creek. Underground mining of the gravels as well as dredging have also been attempted. Along the side of the valley, small draw deposits were mined using hydraulic methods. Further mining of the exposed placer deposits is expected to yield similar results to previous mining operations, though the cost of overburden removal limits the economic viability of mining more deeply buried sediments.
The area between the Big Valley Creek placer deposit and Eight Mile Lake is underlain by potentially gold-bearing Downey succession rocks, making it a good possible location for paleogulch channel deposits. Big Valley Creek crosses the Pleasant Valley thrust fault downstream of the placer deposit, crossing from Downey succession rocks into those of the Cariboo terrane. Beyond the thrust fault, potential placer deposits are most likely restricted to fluvial terranes with gold values diminishing downstream.
Most important placer creeks in the Cariboo region were discovered in the early 1860s. During the Barkerville gold rush, Big Valley Creek received little attention compared to other creeks in the area due to lower gold returns. In 1896, Major C.T. Dupont and his company, Big Valley Goldmines, attempted to mine the bedrock beneath Big Valley Creek. An 11.28-metre-deep (37-foot) shaft was sunk 1.52 kilometres (5000 feet) downstream from the lower end of Big Valley Creek canyon and a 213.36-metre-long (700-foot) tunnel ran upstream. Heavy gold was found on the rim rock. The operation had to be abandoned in 1897 due to water seepage issues. In 1895, 1.64 kilograms (58 ounces) of gold were recovered from low benches on both sides of Big Valley Creek by Chinese miners (Hughes, 1948). In 1934, W.A. Fleury staked the Fleury placer claims and continued to work the bench left by the Chinese miners. From 1935 to 1947, the Fleury property yielded CAD$35 000 from approximately 7645.55 cubic metres (10 000 cubic yards) of gravel, averaging CAD$14 per man-day worked (Hughes, 1948). A 1946 BC Department of Mines bulletin lists Big Valley Creek as a significant placer creek in the Cariboo region. In 1948, United Mining & Dredging Company optioned the property and installed a dredge on Big Valley Creek, recovering approximately 28.35 grams of gold per 11.47 cubic metres (1 ounce of gold per 15 cubic yards)_of material (Assessment Report 30398).
In 1990, the placer claims were owned and operated by Al Bolduc. A small open-pit mine was in operation on the south side of Big Valley Creek near the base of an old hydraulic mine along the valley wall.
From 2007 to 2008, claim owner Rob Cochrane conducted a surface soil sampling program. Eight samples were collected from the alluvial fans near the junction of Lottie and Westpass creeks, the dry extension of Big Valley Creek and south of the dredging area on Big Valley Creek. Sample results did not identify a placer resource but did locate targets for future exploration.
Nearby, Doug Ecker ran a placer operation on placer claims 348846 and 348847 on Lottie Creek. Eureka Resources Inc. holds the Lottie 1 mineral claim in the same area (MINFILE 093H 156).
Sample 151-7-1 from Rob Cochrane’s 2008 sampling program yielded 35 countable gold pieces (Assessment Report 30398).