Could there be another Sullivan mine-sized deposit near Fort Steele, B.C.?

Fort Steele may have a new neighbour soon: The Sully mine

Paul Ransom points to Lakit Lookout, near Fort Steele, which could be the next big East Kootenay mine.

Paul Ransom points to Lakit Lookout, near Fort Steele, which could be the next big East Kootenay mine. — Photo courtesy Paul Ransom

The East Kootenay rumour mill has swirled for years about a new mine opening to rival the old Sullivan mine. Thus far, nothing has materialized. But perhaps that’s about to change.

This potential new mine is Sully, located five kilometres northeast of Fort Steele at the base of Lakit Mountain. Dr. David Broughton, senior technical advisor for Kootenay Zinc Corp., based in Vancouver, said, "The coincidence of multiple large gravity anomalies with strata of Sullivan-equivalent time makes the Sully project very compelling. The project team appears to be closing in on discovering the source of the gravity anomalies."

Heading that team is Paul Ransom, a longtime Kootenay resident and geologist for Kootenay Zinc Corp. He is hopeful that this deposit will be the big one that has eluded prospectors over the years.

“We should be very optimistic,” he said, although he cautioned, “Proof of concept and nature of any mineralization are needed before making odds of going into production. Geological mapping is a giant puzzle-solving process. It’s the ultimate treasure hunt.”

If anyone has an edge at finding the motherlode, it’s Ransom. He used to work at Sullivan, mapping underground workings from ore outline drilling. He progressed to surface exploration mapping and drilling near the mine and occasionally returned to the mine to work on special research projects.

At this stage, Sully is an exploration project. Because of the metal it contains, an ore deposit such as Sullivan is about twice as dense as the rock surrounding it. Gravity surveying, a geophysical technique that detects changes in density of the Earth's crust, indicates there is a dense mass at Sully that could be explained by the presence of a large orebody. Proof of concept by drilling is required.

Kootenay Zinc will be commencing drilling as soon as permits are received and a drill can be mobilized to the site, which is likely underway by February.

Discovery of lead and zinc mineralization is expected but this needs to be confirmed. Continuity of mineralization needs to be established and the size of deposit determined. It would likely take two years to make an initial evaluation following discovery.

Ransom sees the East Kootenay as an ideal location for a mine. “It has well-developed infrastructure including a rail line to a smelter in Trail, B.C.,” he said. “Communities nearby have many experienced miners who work away and would prefer to work close to home.”

The positive economic impact the Sully mine would have on the East Kootenay would be large. Businesses would see increased volumes from the expansion as mining professionals and support service individuals would need places to live and spend their money.

“Mineral deposits that can be mined put phenomenal wealth into circulation and are important for community development,” said Ransom. “If such is discovered at Sully, this region will prosper and there will be employment opportunities for several decades.”

To keep up to date on the Sully mine, go to KootenayZinc.com

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