In 1910, four Scandinavian prospectors made an amazing discovery in Northwestern British Columbia. While searching through what is now called the Stewart Complex, they struck a line of silver. The prospectors called the site ‘Dolly Varden,’ after the beautiful young heroine in Charles Dicken’s Barnaby Rudge.
Small-scale development began immediately. Within a few years, international interest in the project resulted in the property being sold to a group of Chicago-based financiers. These financiers assisted in building a railway into the new mining project. They also continued site development, establishing the original infrastructure for mining.
In 1919, the Taylor Mining Company took over the Dolly Varden Mine and connecting railroad. They continued to explore the area, soon finding the nearby North Star deposit.
The Dolly Varden and North Star Mines produced over 1.305 million ounces of silver from 36,000 tonnes, at an average grade of 35.66 oz/tonne from 1919-1921.
In 1922, the silver market crashed. The price of silver fell to about $1.00 per ounce. No longer able to fund their operations, the Taylor Mining Company sold all properties to the Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company.
The mines remained nearly entirely inactive until 1949. The railway was first used for logging operations, and later replaced by a road. The nearby Torbit Silver Mine was identified in 1946, but very little work was done at this time.
In 1949 Victor Spence purchased and began operating the Torbit Mine, extracting 18,706,847 million ounces in less than 10 years at an average mine grade of 17 oz./tonne.
In 1976, the entire property was put up for sale. Dolly Varden Minerals Incorporated purchased the land and resources within. The company, led by Fred Christianson, developed the property substantially. However, much of the resources potential was neglected due to the popularity of the nearby Eskay Creek deposit. Eskay Creek sits only 100 kilometres north of Dolly Varden, and is known for holding exceptional gold and silver deposits. The allure of this resource pulled prospectors away from Dolly Varden, slowing development.
From 1980-2012, Dolly Varden Minerals Incorporated experienced several name changes, eventually forming the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation (at which time it became a publically traded company).
“You can’t talk to many geologists who haven’t heard of the Dolly Varden Mines,” explains Ron Nichols, Vice President Exploration of Dolly Varden Silver Corporation, “Most have visited the site.”
Today, Dolly Varden Silver Corporation owns and operates within four historic mining areas – Dolly Varden, North Star, Torbit, and Wolf – comprising of about 9,400 hectares within the Stewart Complex. The Company is focused on two core objectives: expanding the historic mining projects to their fullest potential, and exploring the areas surrounding the mines for new, untapped deposits of silver and other precious metals.
The Dolly Varden Silver property lies within Nisga’a first-nations territory. The strong relationship with the local Nisga’a First Nations tribe is an asset the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation truly values. About 25% of their skilled workforce stems from the native community.
The Dolly Varden Silver Corporation is currently undertaking its fourth drill project. The most substantial silver production to date have occurred in the Dolly Varden and Torbit Mine, although all four show strong potential for expansion.
The most recent and exciting development is this summer’s planned drill program. The team is narrowing down the drill targets, transitioning from kilometre/property-wide scale analysis to specific target location. This narrowing of potential deposits stems from years of mapping, sampling, drilling, and surface work.
“We’ve undertaken several interpretation modelling exercises to identify potential deposits beyond the known areas. We know exactly what we’re looking for. Future work will build off this data,” explains Nichols.
Ron Nichols joined the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation at its inception. He acted as President and CEO for several years, always maintaining a passion for the technical progression of the properties’ developments. In February, 2014, Nichols decided to take on the role of Vice President Exploration and transferred his presidential leadership responsibilities over to George Heard, a long-standing Director of Dolly Varden.
“I’m quite happy with the transition,” explains Nichols, “My background has always been more in the project management area. This allows me to focus on the operations within our projects. I’m more able to plan and supervise the work as it develops.”
George Heard brings a wealth of mine exploration, feasibility, development, operations and, most importantly, financing experience to his new position. Nichols believes George Heard is the right person to move the company through the next stage of its development and will significantly contribute to the success of Dolly Varden.
Past mining projects reveal the true potential resting within the Dolly Varden property. The historic developments provide the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation team with substantial background knowledge and understanding of the area’s geology and structure.
“What’s very exciting about our property is that where the historical silver mines operated we have additional high-grade silver mineralization that remains open to the north. In fact, several of existing deposits may even be interconnected and constitute a single large deposit. As well, over the years, independent geologists have identified a number of targets on the property with potential for world-class Eskay-Creek style precious metals rich VMS deposits. In addition, our own recent exploration has identified several more promising targets. Our drilling plans hope to expand the known silver mineralization and find significant new deposits.”, says Nichols.
The resource’s current silver grade sits at nearly 10 ounces of silver per tonne; something Nichols believes will help it weather fluctuating silver prices.
“You can make a very good economic scenario with this sort of high-grade silver,” Nichols says, “It’s stronger than most other silver-focused projects.”
The Dolly Varden Silver Corporation combines data from over 600 drill holes, 700 geological maps, and sections, and GIS modelling techniques to create a truly unique approach. Through historically identified resources, pre-existent structures and information, and proper operations, the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation will bring their current and future mining projects to their full potential.
The strong, competent leadership of the Company and high-grade resources of the Dolly Varden Silver Corporation’s development sites should prove attractive to investors. The Company currently trades under the symbol DV on the TSX Venture Exchange (TSX.V:DV).
*Photo Credit: Dolly Varden Silver