--> string(10) "[Minerals]"

Project Concept: Critical Minerals and Metals in BC Mine Tailings and Waste Rock Facilities

Lead Researcher(s):  TBD

Project ID:  2022-005

Key Research Organization(s):  TBD

Project Location:  British Columbia

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals


Tailings and waste rock from many of British Columbia’s current and legacy mining operations may host economic concentrations of critical minerals and metals. Such resources are essential for a low-carbon future and could boost the economy in regions of former mines found to have economically viable concentrations.  

Geoscience BC’s three phase Critical Minerals and Metals in Select British Columbia Mine Tailings and Waste Rock program will selectively assess tailings and waste rock to identify if there are economic opportunities to extract further value from these mining by-products while addressing potential environmental liabilities.  

The first phase will collate and analyze existing data related to legacy and operating sites across BC. Targeted information will include deposit type, geology, alteration, geochemistry, metallurgy, mineralogy, known infrastructure and proxy studies. Later phases would include fieldwork and the collection of new data to support the development of site investigation models, and also evaluate and recommend economic and environmental approaches that could be taken at each site. 

How to Contribute

This is a project concept being considered and developed by Geoscience BC and its members and partners. If you are interested in contributing to this project, please email info@geosciencebc.com. Your information will be sent to the most appropriate member of our team.

The Need

Critical minerals and metals are essential to Canada’s economic security and are the foundation upon which modern technology and a transition to a net-zero economy are built. The ability for these resources to be sourced from partner jurisdictions can also help mitigate the risk of global supply chain disruption. 

The potential of tailings and waste rock from producing or past-producing mines to provide an economic resource would provide Canada with additional critical minerals or metals. For any past-producing mine that proves viable, it would also turn mining by-products from an environmental liability into a valuable asset. 

Project Goals

This Project Concept fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of ‘Identifying New Natural Resource Opportunities’. 

Phase 1 aims to: 

  • Compile information related to legacy and operating sites across BC. This will include information from the BC Geological Survey’s MINFILE reports and the Abandoned Mines Branch list of known sites. 
  • Seek input from relevant Indigenous groups and integrate information with technical criteria where possible. This will be guided by Geoscience BC’s Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Advisory Council. 
  • Identify approximately four priority sites for technical investigation. 
  • Conduct scope assessment for Phase 2. 

Project Benefits

By identifying sites with economically viable deposits of critical minerals and metals, which at the time of extraction were not recoverable or considered valuable, this project can attract critical mineral investment to BC by demonstrating research innovation, while also boosting collaboration between the research ecosystem and governments, industry, academia, communities and Indigenous groups. 

Through collaboration, research expertise and capacity will be expanded, with broader engagement within the mineral exploration, extraction and minerals processing industries. 


The research would occur province-wide. The initial phase will not require any fieldwork. 

Geoscience BC encourages anyone planning exploration work to first contact Indigenous groups in the area. The Province of British Columbia’s Consultative Areas Database can help with this (https://maps.gov.bc.ca/ess/hm/cadb/). The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) also produces an Indigenous Engagement Guidebook.