Thompson-Okanagan mining exploration companies poised for a good year | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Thompson-Okanagan mining exploration companies poised for a good year

There is lots of interest in mining exploration in the Thompson and Okanagan this year, with a focus on exploration in the Merritt- Spences Bridge region.
February 26, 2021 - 7:30 AM

It’s promising to be a good year for mining exploration in the province in general and the Thompson-Okanagan in particular, with COVID-19 the only dark cloud on the economic horizon for the industry.

Association for Mineral Exploration British Columbia President and Chief Operating Officer Kendra Johnston says the Thompson and Okanagan regions are poised to benefit from new interest in mining properties in the Spences Bridge area, one of the province’s mining hot spots this year.

There is continued uncertainty about what COVID-19 impacts there may be on the provincial mining industry, however, which Johnston says could be in for a big year.

"We're anticipating COVID-19 outbreaks this year. Camp situations pose the biggest risk. There are a lot of unknowns at this point but health and safety continues to be a top priority for the exploration industry," Johnston says.

Commodity prices are on the rise for the most part, and companies are well-financed. There’s also government support for mining and Johnston says the industry has been actively engaged in positive communication with First Nations.

The Association represents grass-roots mining industry interest from the prospector through to development of mining properties. Johnston says the association then overlaps with the Mining Association of B.C. which represents members at the development stage, through production, operation and closure of a mining venture.

Johnston says provincially, the largest amount of exploration dollars are going into the Golden Triangle region of British Columbia, (a 500 km belt of mineralization located along the province’s northwest coast between Stewart and Atlin) but areas of new interest are popping up all the time.

“One of the emerging areas in the past two years is in the Spences Bridge area, with exploration being undertaken by many companies based in the Thompson and Okanagan,” Johnston says.

The Spences Bridge mineral belt runs from Hope all the way to the Cariboo region and includes a new gold project near Wells.

“The main area of interest is currently in the Merritt-Spences Bridge region. That’s the hot spot this year,” Johnston says.

Several companies are currently at work in the area with exploration projects at different phases of development. Some are undertaking soil sampling, others are conducting geophysics programs and some are drilling.

Johnston said in the past year or so there has been a lot more interest in the Thompson and Okanagan for mineral exploration. The Kamloops mines inspection office has also been very busy, Johnston says.

There is currently lots of new staking, and new ideas coming out of reviews of historical assessment reports that date back up to 90 years.

While the Thompson-Okanagan isn’t the most active area in the province, it is attracting new interest, primarily for the bulk tonnage, low-grade copper porphyry projects the region is known for, but also for new prospects involving smaller-scale, epithermal, vein-type gold and silver properties.

Johnston says there are also employment opportunities opening up in the region with the increased mining interest.

She says beyond established mines such as Highland Valley and Newmont, there are smaller companies on the mineral exploration side who maintain a core staff with seasonal projects where people are employed May through September.

“More and more, junior companies are hiring contractors who can supply those people and, in some cases, set up camp management as well,” she says.

Contracting companies that might be hiring include Equity Explorations and Coast Mountain Geological, who have projects in the Thompson-Okanagan.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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