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Coulter Creek

A Cariboo Gold-Bearing Creek

This page is about placer mining and exploration on Coulter Creek. It includes very little information about hardrock exploration.
Coulter Creek is a gold-bearing creek in the Barkerville area - the Cariboo - approximately 8 to 12 kilometres west of the town of Wells, BC.

The creek flows more or less south-west down Island Mountain to enter Slough Creek approximately 0.93 km north-north-west of the "Slough Creek 2100 Road" turn-off on Highway 26 (the Quesnel - Barkerville highway).

Coulter Creek forks about 1.8 km upstream of the mouth to form the north fork and the south fork. The north fork and the upper part of the south fork flow more or less south-west; the lower kilometre of the south fork flows more or less west.

The Hydraulic Pit

There is an old hydraulic pit on the north side of Coulter Creek approximately 1.2 km upstream of the mouth.

Some folks spell it "hydraulick", including Stuart S. Holland of the (old) BC Department of Mines.

In 1947, the pit was approximately 1100 feet long and 250 feet wide. The overburden is described as "boulder clay". (Holland, 1948)

In 1993, the highwall parallel to the creek exposed a "Complex sequence of interbedded sands, gravels and diamicton [glacial till]". (Levson and Giles, 1993)

Some exploration reports refer to the deep overburden at and upstream of the pit as "boulder-clay" (in quotation marks).

Historic Placer Gold Production

The official recorded placer gold production of Coulter Creek between 1874 and 1945 is 1,015 ounces. It is reasonable to suppose that a significant amount of gold was produced from the creek before 1874, but details are not available.

94% of the recorded production on Coulter Creek was from years after 1920. There is no recorded production between 1881 and 1920. (Holland, 1950)

The period of almost all the recorded gold production - 1921 to 1945 - is also the period in which the creek was hydrauliced - 1924 until at least 1947. Whether any other kind of mining was conducted during this period is not known.

References

See the Bibliography at the end of this page.

Placer Mining on Coulter Creek

Most exploration and mining on Coulter Creek has been focused on buried channels.

Early Underground Mining

Gold-bearing gravel was drifted [mined underground] "in the very earliest days". (Holland, 1948) Since gold was discovered on Lightning Creek in 1861, this presumably means during the 1860s.
"Shallow gravel on bedrock was mined on Coulter Creek down-stream from the foot of the canyon about half a mile above its mouth. (Holland, 1948)

"A little further upstream attempts were then made to tunnel on a buried channel on the south side of the creek. (MINFILE 093H 109)

Hydraulic Mining

From MINFILE 093H 109...
"More recently, hydraulicking operations have taken place on a buried channel on the north side of the creek."
This channel is described as being 10 metres above the present level of the creek, with bedrock gravel overlain by "up to 30 metres or more of boulder clay".

From Holland, 1948...

Four leases on the creek were first hydrauliced "since about 1924" by Julius Powell and then by J. Chouse.

In 1947, Alvo von Alvensleben had an option on the property and began hydraulicing. After 65 days, the first clean-up is reported to have yielded 186 ounces of placer gold from approximately 25,000 square feet of bedrock.

At the time of the field work in 1947, "...one small hydraulic on Coulter Creek and two on Devils Lake Creek are still operated."

Test Mining in the 1960s, 1980s and maybe 1990

Between 1964 and 1966, as part of exploration work described below, an upstream extension of the channel above and north of the creek was test mined. As an experiment, the deep overburden was processed. 30,000 cubic yards of material was processed in total. (Campbell and Coffin, 1986)

In the first half of the 1980s, "Bulk testing or small scale mining was done in the east end of the hydraulic pit". Apparently, some gold was produced, but details aren't available. (Campbell and Coffin, 1986)

No placer mining activity was going on when the property was visited in 1990, "but some equipment was still on the site including a large processing plant." (Levson and Giles, 1993)

More Recent Records

A report of exploration in 2000 and 2001 (described below) states that the last placer mining on Coulter Creek "(approximately 1960's)" was hydraulicing of the buried channel north and 10 metres above the creek.

A (hardrock) exploration report from 2007 states that no placer mining on Coulter Creek has taken place recently. (Cowley, 2007).

Placer Exploration on Coulter Creek

From Campbell and Coffin, 1986...
1964 - W.M. Sharp for Fleurmont Placer Development Ltd. "described hydraulic mining of the north margin of pit which exposed" gold-bearing gravels in what was interpreted as an "elevated" ancient buried channel.

1966 - W.M. Sharp described work between 1964 and 1966, reporting that 30 oz. of gold was produced from 30,000 cubic yards from the buried channel north of the creek. Apparently, at least part of this mining was an experiment to test the viability of processing the increasingly deep overburden in order to improve the economics of mining the deep pay gravels.

In what Campbell and Coffin describe as a separate "upper bench" above and north of the buried channel, Sharp reported that "the rim of a buried channel, and in-slope dip of the bedrock and gravel beyond the rim, or shoulder, was uncovered for 200 feet".

1966 - Huntec Ltd. for Fleurmont Placer Development Ltd. did a seismic refraction survey on the north side Coulter Creek

1979 - W.H. Myers did a shallow refraction seismic survey for Fleurmont Resources. At the canyon below the hydraulic pit, bedrock outcrops about 10 feet above the creek bed, while just upstream of the canyon, the seismic indicates that bedrock is 30 to 35 feet below the stream bed. Bedrock becomes shallower upstream and comes to the surface in the hydraulic pit.

"From the information available in the literature and a brief visit to the property in 1968 the hydraulicking or the pit was not on or in an older or ancient channel but rather an inter-glacial channel or bench which resulted from the glaciation of the old channel further upstream and a redeposition or rework of the auriferous gravels."
Interpretation of the seismic work suggests that an "old or ancient channel cuts across the present Coulter Creek just above the canyon and comes under the camp and road." From a seismic lines above the hydraulic pit, it appears that bedrock becomes deeper to the northeast, which could be a glaciated channel and might be the source of the gold in the pit.

1980 - Aerodat Ltd. for Gold Point Resources Ltd. did a helicopter magnetic and electromagnetic survey of the area. One anomaly includes part of the headwaters of Coulter Creek. (Campbell and Coffin, 1986)

1983 - D. Plenderleith for Gold Point Resources Ltd. did a ground magnetometer survey to investigate anomalies identified by the helicopter magnetometer survey by Aerodat in 1980.

1984 - D. Plenderleith did a hammer seismic refraction survey in areas upstream on the "northern channel" and on the south fork of Coulter Creek. He strongly recommended further exploration of a trough-like feature running south into the northern part of the east end of the hydraulic pit. He also recommended further testing of a trough-like feature between the forks of the creek (apparently more or less parallel to the north fork) and a "possible bench" on the north wall of the north fork approximately 150 to 200 metres upstream of the fork. (Campbell and Coffin, 1986)

1986 - K.V. Campbell and C.J. Coffin did a variety of placer and hardrock exploration in the Coulter Creek area for Vertex Resources, including a seismic refraction survey...

Two of the three seismic lines on the north fork, roughly half a kilometer northwest of the fork, show indications of bench-like features that could be old channels. One is a "flat depression running 40 to 50 metres north of the present stream course and 25 metres above the valley bottom", with only six metres of overburden on one of the lines. The other is a "deeper trough-like depression running below or slightly north of the present stream course and 10 metres above the valley bottom", with the appearance of a bedrock ridge running up the center, and approximately 15 metres of overburden.

Ten placer samples were taken from the pit, two cut by hand from surface material and the others cut from material from trenches dug with a truck-mounted backhoe; small amounts of gold were recovered - the two highest concentrations being 0.036 ounces and 0.0084 ounces per cubic yard.

2000 - D.K. Makepeace for Gold City Industries did a stream sediment survey of Coulter Creek and its tributaries, collecting 51 samples. Two anomalies were found, both on the south fork. The best, two adjacent samples approximately 900 metres west of the fork, contained 1,923 and 928.5 ppb gold (which does not trail-off downstream). The other anomaly was the last sample (furthest upstream), approximately 1700 metres west-north-west of the fork.

Bibliography

MINFILE "093H 109 - Coulter Creek"   1989
       
Coulter Creek
        Ministry of Energy, Mines & Petroleum Resources
        first coded 1986; revised 1989

Campbell, K.V. and Coffin, D.J.   1986
        of MineQuest Exploration Associates Ltd.
       
Island Mountain Property
        for Vertex Resources Ltd.

Cowley, P.   2007
       
Geochemical Report on the Promise Claim Group (WelBar Project)
        for Merit Mining Corp.

Holland, S.S.,   1948  
       
Report on the Stanley Area - Cariboo Mining Division
        Department of Mines, Bulletin No. 26

Holland, S.S.,   1950  
       
Placer Gold Production of British Columbia,
        Department of Mines, Bulletin No. 28

Levson, V.M. and Giles, T.R.   1993
       
Geology of Tertiary and Quaternary Gold-Bearing Placers In The Cariboo Region
        Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Bulletin No. 89

Makepeace, D.K.   2001
        of Geospectrum Engineering
       
Geochemical Report of the Promise Claim Group (WelBar Project)
        for Gold City Industries Ltd.

Myers, W.H.   1979
       
Geophysical Report on Shallow Refraction Seismic Survey
        for Fleurmont Resources Ltd.

Plenderleith, D.   1983
       
Geophysical Report - Ground Magnetometer Survey
        for Gold Point Resources Ltd.