string(10) "[Minerals]"

Critical Minerals and Metals in BC Mine Tailings and Waste Rock

Lead Researcher(s):  TBD

Project ID:  2022-005

Key Research Organization(s):  TBD

Project Location:  British Columbia

Strategic Focus Area:  Minerals


We are seeking corporate, community and Indigenous funding and in-kind partners for this program, with potential benefits including early data access and direct input into future research phases. To set up a meeting or for more information, email (Subject: Interest in Geoscience BC Critical Minerals and Metals in BC Mine Tailings and Waste Rock program)


The transition to a net-zero emissions economy requires significant inventories of critical minerals and metals. This demand is driving innovative approaches to geoscience research and to mineral exploration and development. Tailings and waste rock from current and legacy mining operations in British Columbia may host economic concentrations of critical minerals and metals which could provide a boost to local economies.

The multi-phase Critical Minerals and Metals in British Columbia Mine Tailings and Waste Rock program aims to assess tailings and waste rock to highlight opportunities to extract further value from these mining by-products and address potential environmental liabilities. 

The first phase is collating and completing a high-level inventory of existing geological and geochemical data related to current and legacy sites across the province and linking it with key information such as infrastructure. Later phases will include laboratory and field-scale studies at select locations. 

The program will provide industry, communities and Indigenous groups with key data to inform decision-making and guide actions around investment in critical mineral exploration and development.

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.

Geoscience BC continues to seek further funding and support.

Project Goals

This program 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. 
  • Conduct scope assessment for Phase 2, including identifying sites for targeted technical investigation. 

The Need

Critical minerals and metals are essential to Canada’s economic security and are the foundation upon which technologies and a transition to a net-zero emissions economy are built. The ability for these resources to be sourced from neighbouring or 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 and metals. For any past-producing mine that proves viable, it could also turn mining by-products from an environmental liability into a valuable asset. 

Project Benefits

By evaluating sites across BC that have potential for further exploration for economically viable deposits of critical minerals and metals, this program will support foundational mineral exploration and development research that will further provincial and federal net-zero emissions economy goals.

The program is expected to attract critical mineral and metal investment to BC by demonstrating research innovation, while also boosting collaboration between First Nations, governments, industry, academia and communities. Through collaboration, research expertise and capacity will be expanded, with broader engagement within the mineral exploration, extraction and minerals processing industries. 

Project Governance

Technical input for Phase 1 is provided by a Project Advisory Committee (PAC). The dedication of these volunteers and support of their organizations is greatly appreciated:

  • Anika Bergen, Geologist, Ministry of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Abandoned Mines Branch
  • Julie Deriaz, Project Lead, Critical Minerals Potential in Canadian Mine Tailings, CanmetMINING, Natural Resources Canada
  • Alf Hills, Consultant and Geoscience BC Minerals Technical Advisory Committee member
  • Bev Quist, Field Inspector Abandoned Mines, Ministry of Energy Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, Abandoned Mines Branch
  • Tyler Rice, Senior Advisor Corporate Affairs, Cassiar Gold Corp.


The first phase is a province-wide desktop study.

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 ( The Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) also produces an Indigenous Engagement Guidebook.