Click here to view historical photos from the Pickle Crow gold mine
Canadian Mining Journal write-up on Pickle Crow gold mine, Nov 1949
Second Annual Report, 1935
The Pickle Crow Gold Mine was famous in its heyday, and remains well known in the industry today. It was among the highest grade, longest-lived underground gold mines in North America, operating continuously from April 23rd, 1935 through September, 1966 and producing in total 45 tonnes (1,446,214 Troy oz.) of gold and about 5.25 tonnes (168,757 Troy oz.) of silver from 2,785,488 tonnes (3,070,475 tons) of ore milled. Average recovered grade over the life of the mine was 16.14 g/t Au (0.47 oz/T Au) and 1.88 g/t Ag (0.06 oz/T Ag). The mine established a Canadian record by paying a dividend to its shareholders a mere 11 months after beginning production. In its first year the mine earned $415,962 (equivalent to about $6.5 million 2007 US$) after taxes and continued to earn substantial profits through World War II, labour shortages and constantly declining real gold prices (adjusted for inflation), for 28 consecutive years. In the post-war years, under the stewardship of Dr. Norman B. Keevil, then President of PCGM, these profits from the Pickle Crow Mine partially underwrote the growth of another great Canadian mining success story, Teck Corporation (now Teck Cominco). This outstanding record of profitability reflected in part the consistently high grades of the veins being mined, and their excellent persistence and continuity, particularly in the depth dimension.
However, with the workings extending ever deeper, exceeding one kilometre in places, and hoisting capacities constrained by relatively small shaft sizes, costs crept up. Squeezed between the declining real gold price ($35/oz) and the increasing cost profile of the operations, the mine recorded its first operational loss in 1964. Accordingly, Dr. Keevil announced the following year that the mine would close. However, an enterprising person(s) unknown to this day, succeeded in extracting one final big payday out of the old operation in September 1966, by making off with the last three gold bars poured at Pickle Crow. They were unable to get away with what remained in the ground, however: the mine is known to have closed with a substantial volume of gold mineralization in place, multiple productive veins open to depth below the workings, and no apparent decrease with depth in the tenor of mineralization.
After the closing of the Pickle Crow Mine, the Property lay dormant for many years, but saw extensive work by various operators through the course of the 1980ís, 1990ís and first part of this decade. This historical work, which included several non-NI 43-101 compliant estimates of the volume of gold mineralization hosted by the Property, outlined substantial zones of auriferous material within the area of, or in close proximity to, the historic workings. These historical estimates can be separated into two groups, namely:
- Estimates of quartz-carbonate vein material only, prepared by the engineering department of the Pickle Crow Mine prior to mine closure in 1966 (historically, production from the Pickle Crow Mine was almost entirely from high grade quartz-carbonate veins); and
- Estimates of both quartz-carbonate vein and iron formation hosted gold mineralization conducted by various groups between mine closure and the late 1980ís. Iron formation hosted gold was not historically mined at Pickle Crow, possibly because the mill was not set up to process it, and possibly because its average grade of about 7 grams/tonne Au (0.20 oz/T) was below the mid 1960ís cut-off grade of 8.57 g/t Au (0.25 oz/T).
These historical estimates, which readers can view in more detail in Chapter 5 of the NI 43-101 Technical Report prepared for the Property by independent consultants MPH Consulting Limited of Toronto, range from a general inventory in place on mine closure (PCGM, September 1966) of 140,000 tonnes averaging 11.31 g/t Au (46,190 oz. Au) to a global calculation (Noramco, April 1988) totalling 5,731,050 tonnes at 7.26 g/t Au (1,213,919 oz. Au). Readers should note that these estimates are historical in nature and predate and are therefore not compliant with, National Instrument 43-101. PC Gold is not treating these historical estimates as current mineral resources or reserves and has not undertaken any independent investigation of the estimates nor independently analyzed the results of the previous exploration work in order to verify the historical resource figures. These historical estimates should therefore not be relied upon. PC Gold does however believe that these historical estimates provide a conceptual indication of the potential of the gold mineralized zones on the Pickle Crow Property, are relevant to ongoing exploration, and that it is reasonable to expect that they may be brought into compliance with the NI 43-101 standard, in whole or in part, through implementation of the planned exploration program.