Talisker Resources, new owner of Bralorne Mine, has big plans for the acquisition but the company isn’t rushing into anything.
Company president and CEO Terry Harbort, was in Lillooet last week to make connections, introduce Talisker’s vision and to listen to local input.
“What we’re looking at is a large, systematic exploration program, trying to build critical mass in the resource so we can really build a long-term project–so something that will go on for many years,” Harbort said.
Talisker’s VP of sustainability and external affairs Mike McPhie, who accompanied Harbort on the visit, along with environmental consultant Christy Smith, elaborated.
“It’s a historic property with a lot of information, and really the intent of the company is to step back a little bit and look at it in its entirety and say ‘okay, what can we do to create a critical mass that would support a long-term, well-planned, well-executed mineral development operation and that would support well-playing jobs over the long term as opposed to small-scale mining that may have a limited life,” McPhie said.
“So, it’s really about bringing in the best technical minds that you can, look at the entire geological system and understand, ‘okay can this support a long-term mineral operation?’ And that takes time and it takes a bit of energy and effort to really get it there and it hasn’t been done in the last number of years.”
It’s being done now, although nobody wanted to speculate about how long the process is likely to take.
“From an exploration perspective, there are various stages that we have to go through and there’s decision points at each of those stages,” Harbort explained.
That starts with looking at the extensions of existing veins that are close to the surface, he said.
“Mainly where Avino were looking was in between the old historic lines. We think there’s potential there at depth but we think there’s better potential along strike of the old stopes, of the old mines that were veined out to a couple of 100 metres,” he said.
“We can support that interpretation because there’s a fair bit of historic drift sampling where they’ve actually mapped and mined veins. So that’s going to be the first phase that we look at, and then we have a decision point on that and then you move to deeper down.”
Historically at Bralorne and nearby King Mine there has been an average of 115,000 ounces for every 50 vertical metres that were mined, Harbort said.
“So, we think there’s good potential underneath where most of the veins were stopped.”
One vein was taken down to almost two kilometres, Harbort said, but the other 29 were stopped around 900 metres.
“We think there’s potential in the kilometre that sits below that. There’s plenty of indication that it’s there.”
Talisker is also eager to explore outside of the main Bralorne Mine site.
“There’s an awful lot of prospects and old mines that have never had systematic exploration. Before, there was a lot of owners to a lot of different blocks, so it was difficult to put it together and do systematic work,” Harbort explained.
Lack of funding and technical expertise also limited previous exploration in the area, he said.
“We come from a background of very strong technical expertise; we’re all major-company trained. Myself and our vice-president are both PhD level geologists, our VP of explorations are Masters level geologists, we’ve been able to discover over 40 million ounces throughout our career, so we’ve fortunately been quite successful.”
That success has largely been earned in settings that will position the company well for the task at hand at Bralorne.
“We’ve done a lot of work in British Columbia in similar camps. I come to the CEO position from being chief geologist up in Barkerville. So, I’ve worked in similar camps, I’ve been able to put over four million ounces on the books there,” Harbort said.
“We deconstructed the model, rebuilt the model, understood the science, and were able to predict where the veins would be. And we think we can apply the same scenario here.”
In fact, despite all the talk of stages of exploration and accompanying decision points, Harbort made it clear that he’s in no doubt about the viability of the sort of long-term, profitable operation he has in mind.
“It’s about how to proceed as opposed to whether we will proceed.”
McPhie interjected at that point to note that that doesn’t just mean technically, but with regard to local engagement and corporate citizenship, as well.
“And understanding if any concerns exists, where people’s interests are, and trying to do it thoughtfully so that we are responsive to what people’s interests are and we are seen as having a responsible, thoughtful, very forward-looking, long-term community view of where we’re going to be. The geology is complex but this is a region with a long history and we want to try to understand what people’s interests are and what concerns if any might exist so that we are responsive to those,” McPhie said.
“We have to plan and build proper foundations, everywhere; from on one side, geological understanding, to the other side, government and community. We need a proper foundation so we can build what we think is actually there–a long-term project.”
They said it was impossible to be specific so early on with regard to potential number of jobs provided or to the lifespan of the operation.
“It’s probably early to put numbers on that. The intents of the team is to create a sustainable development operation that can run for a long time. The trouble with trying to run before you’ve... is that it often doesn’t last and it often becomes vary subject to the vagaries of the commodities market,” McPhie explained.
“I think our intent is to create something that can be more resilient and something that has a long life ahead of it. But you have to take the time to really understand it in order to be able to do that.”