The Dolly Varden Mines properties comprise 8,800 hectares (88 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’ novel, “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 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.
The property hosts two past producing deposits with production of 20 million ounces of Silver. The Dolly Varden Mine produced 1.5 million ounces at an average grade of 35.7 ounces per ton in the early 1920’s, and the Torbrit mine which produced 18.5 million ounces of silver at an average recovered grade of 13.58 ounces per ton from 1949 to 1959.
SOURCES OF HISTORICAL INFORMATION
Dolly Varden Mine: Skerl (1964) and Mann (1974) Dolly Varden Mine staff. Remaining resource blocks are in proximity to mined out stopes and downplunge extensions of mined out areas.
North Star Mine: Thompson & Pearson (1981) Derry Michener & Booth. Minimum mining width of 5 ft. No prior mining.
Torbrit Mine: Leigh & Thompson (1983) Derry Michener & Booth. Comprised of 18 zones. Most zones are in the hanging wall of the glory hole and mined out stopes of the 1959 operation.
Wolf No. 1 Zone: Thompson & Pearson (1981) Derry Michener & Booth. No prior mining. Tested by two levels of underground adits.
Wolf No. 2 Zone: Thompson & Pearson (1981) Derry Michener & Booth. No prior mining. Tested by three levels of underground adits.
Wolf No. 3 Zone: Thompson & Pearson (1981) Derry Michener & Booth. No prior mining.
Dolly Varden Silver Corporation 2011 through 2013
For the first several years of Dolly Varden Silver’s ownership of the property, field work focused on understanding the historic mines and testing mineralization within and adjacent to them. In 2011 the Company drilled 4,607 meters in 21 core holes at the Wolf Deposit, gaining assay highlights of 595 g/t silver over 15.2 meters in an epithermal vein and 384 g/t silver over 5.45 meters in a VMS layer. 2012’s drilling targeted the Dolly Varden mine, with underground rehabilitation, sampling and surveying plus 1,603 meters of drilling. Assay highlights from the Dolly Varden mine were 5.3 meters grading 536 g/t silver. Work in 2013 focused on the historic Torbrit mine with underground rehabilitation, surveying and sampling, in addition to 3,064 meters of drilling in 14 holes. Nearly all holes at Torbrit intersected significant VMS mineralization ranging in thickness from 9.3 meters to 89.1 meters. One assay highlight was 17.1 meters grading 509 g/t silver.