Critical Minerals in Mine Tailings and Waste Rock Focus of New Geoscience BC Study

Vancouver, BC – January 22, 2024 – A new Geoscience BC collaborative program is supporting innovation in mineral exploration and development with a province-wide study to highlight where potential concentrations of critical metals and minerals may be found in mine tailings and waste rock.

Critical minerals and metals are essential for technologies – such as electrification – needed to meet net-zero emission goals. Geoscience BC is bringing together government, industry and other partners for the first desktop phase of the Critical Minerals and Metals in BC Mine Tailings and Waste Rock Facilities program.

The first phase will collate and analyze existing information from current and historic mining operations to identify sites for future laboratory and fieldwork studies, looking to identify potential sources of critical metals and minerals that were not considered recoverable or valuable at the time of extraction but that may now prove otherwise. It will also include other essential datasets, such as infrastructure.

The first phase research funders are Arca Climate, New Gold Inc. and Geoscience BC, with program support from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation’s Abandoned Mines Branch. The Association for Mineral Exploration and Mining Association of BC (MABC) support the program and Geoscience BC is working with industry, academic, Indigenous and other partners to secure further support. Now is an ideal time to contact us if you wish to be involved.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation Josie Osborne said: “Critical minerals are a key pillar of B.C.’s competitive mining sector. Research projects like the one being conducted by Geoscience BC will assist us in identifying potential new sources of these needed minerals, helping to position B.C. as the supplier of choice to investors and steering us towards a low-carbon future.”

Arca Climate Head of Science and Co-Founder, Greg Dipple said: "In BC we have a unique opportunity to reimagine waste as a resource, to tap new sources of value and deliver low-carbon critical metals to global markets. We are excited to be supporting this innovative project with Geoscience BC."

Geoscience BC Vice President Minerals, Christa Pellett said: "This Geoscience BC led innovation will encourage collaboration and progress critical mineral and metal investment and exploration in British Columbia.”

MABC President and CEO Michael Goehring said: “This research is important and can help position British Columbia as a leading global supplier of responsibly-produced critical minerals and metals. I encourage industry partners and stakeholders to get involved in this project.”

Accessing information

To view the reports and information maps, visit the project page or view the project area on Geoscience BC's Earth Science Viewer online mapping application.

View project page

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About Geoscience BC

Geoscience BC's independent, public geoscience is a first link in the supply chain for Canada's net-zero emissions economy.

Our critical minerals and metals, cleaner energy and geological carbon capture and storage research is funded by industry, government and other partners. It informs evidence-based decisions by industry, governments, Indigenous groups and communities.

Geoscience BC is guided by a volunteer Board of Directors, technical and Indigenous volunteers and by Geoscience BC members. We are a not-for-profit society incorporated under the BC Societies Act.

We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of our partners, including the Province of British Columbia through the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation.

Visit or follow us @GeoscienceBC to find out more.


For more information, please contact:

Richard Truman

Geoscience BC

604-662-4147 / 778-929-1662