Dolly Varden Silver Mines – A Rich History
The Dolly Varden Mines properties comprise 9,400 hectares (94 km2 ) located in the Stewart Complex, which is host to both base and precious metal deposits, including the prolific Eskay Creek Mine. Over 220 M oz Ag and over 7 M oz Au has been produced by the Hazelton Group Arc Assemblage. High sulphidation VMS occurs in the youngest hazelton group rocks. The property hosts four historically active mines, with unexplored sectors.
The Dolly Varden Mines are a rich part of British Columbia’s mining history. In 1910 the Dolly Varden Mine was discovered by four prospectors of Scandinavian descent. The name ‘Dolly Varden’ hails from a heroine of Dickens Barnaby Rudge, as foretold in a dream to a relative of one of the discoverers. The dream was indeed gilded with a silver lining.
The Dolly Varden Mine properties have produced assays of ore as high as 2200 ounces (over 72 kilograms) of silver per ton. The mines have historic production of 20 M oz Ag.
However, the initial discoverers were not to profit from their hard earned discovery. The Dolly Varden properties were sold to ambitious Chicago financiers in 1915. The mines’ new owners undertook to build a railway. Taylor Engineering Company was contracted to build the ‘Dolly Varden Mines Railway’; the last narrow guage railway built in B.C. The railway ran for just 16 miles, enabling the mining company to transport equipment and supplies to the mine site. It also facilitated the transport of the rich ore to the tidewater in Alice Arm for shipping to the smelter.
In 1918 differences arose between Dolly Varden Mines and the Taylor Engineering Company, resulting in the bankruptcy of the Taylor Company. A decision was reached by the Government of B.C., with the mine properties being turned over to Taylor. The previous owners were reimbursed for their investment in the Dolly Varden Mines.
In 1919, the newly established Taylor Mining Company took over both the Dolly Varden Mine and the railroad. The Torbrit deposit was located and explored while the neighbouring Dolly Varden mine was in production. Dolly Varden and North Star Mines produced 1.305 million ounces silver from 36,000 tons at an average grade of 35.66 oz/ton silver (1,109 g/t Ag) from 1919 to 1921 (Herbert Hoover financed the operation prior to becoming US President).
Taylor lost control of the property in 1922 due to market conditions. In 1920, silver had dropped to less than $1.00 per ounce. The high costs associated with bringing the mine into production forced Taylor to forfeit title to the properties to George Wingfield’s interests. Goldfield Consolidated Mines Company took control in 1922, and reorganized into Northern Mining Properties, Limited, later renamed Dolly Varden Properties, Limited.
From 1923 to 1927 the Dolly Varden Mines Railway was utilized for logging operations. In 1929 the properties were optioned to Britannia Mining and Smelting Company, who conducted some development work, which was halted when the Great Depression hit. In the mid-1940s, the railway was replaced by a road. Subsequently, Torbrit Silver Mines Limited bought the property in 1946 and built and operated a 350 tonne-per day, hydroelectric-powered mill and flotation concentrator plant. The claims were later acquired by Victor Spence and associates and held by his interests until the 1950s. Torbrit Mine produced 18,706,847 million ounces of silver and 10.8 million pounds of lead from 1949-1959, from 1,377,632 tons at an average grade of 13.58 oz/ton Ag (466.3 g/t Ag) and 0.38% lead.
The Dolly Varden mine produced a small tonnage of high-grade silver ore that was direct shipped without beneficiation to base metal smelters, mainly to the nearby Granby Mines Anyox Copper smelter. The other deposit in the area to see production was the Torbrit, which comprises one of the potential deposits on the properties today. Production was in the form of a high-grade silver-lead concentrate and silver bullion.Taken together, about 20 million ounces of silver were produced from the mines on the Dolly Varden property, between 1919 and 1959.
Many of the significant properties in the upper Kitsault were assembled by Dolly Varden Mines Ltd., which was incorporated in 1960. Successive ownership changed ended in 1976, when Dolly Varden Mines Ltd. was put up for sale, and purchased by Dolly Varden Resources Limited. Subsequently, the company was amalgamated with three other companies holding land in the upper Kitsault valley under the name of Dolly Varden Minerals Inc. in 1979. From 1980 thru 1985 Dolly Varden Minerals, Inc. led by Fred Christianson, acquired and held title to the Dolly Varden Mines and later named Dolly Varden Resources. In 2011, Dolly Varden Silver Ltd. acquired Dolly Varden property from a private company. The Company went public under the name Dolly Varden Silver Corporation in 2012.
Geological work commissioned in the period 1979 to 1990 established the common geological characteristics of the major silver deposits and occurrences in the upper Kitsault valley. The rock formations and the style of mineralization and alteration on the Dolly Varden property share strong similarities to the Eskay Creek deposit, which is an exceptionally prolific gold and silver rich deposit, located 100 km north of the Dolly Varden property.
Historical Resource Estimates
Details of the remaining silver mineral resources, now termed “historic mineral resources” can be found in the NI 43-101 technical report by Terry Garrow, P.Geo entitled “Geology and Mineral Exploration of the Dolly Varden Property, British Columbia, Canada” effective date of September 5, 2011 a link to a copy of this report filed on SEDAR can be found elsewhere on this website. The report describes historical resource estimates that remain un-mined of 5.7 million ounces of silver in the historic Proven and Probable categories and 8.5 million ounces in the Possible categories.* These historic resources require modern diamond drill programs for verification, which is presently being undertaken by Dolly Varden Silver Corporation.
Dolly Varden Silver Today – Exploration and Development
After the cash purchase of the Property in the spring of 2011, Dolly Varden Silver Ltd. used private funding to construct an operations camp in Alice Arm and to conduct mineral exploration and diamond drilling on the Property during July through November 2011. A BC Land Survey company was retained to re-establish the historic mine survey grids and to re-establish important survey control hubs from the 1989-90 exploration program. Access was most readily obtained at the Wolf Mine during this late season program. Diamond drilling was conducted on the Wolf No. 1, 2, and 3 zones in 21 holes totaling 4,600 m of drilling in September and October 2011. Read more…