Canada's new government funding mineral exploration in areas impacted by mountain pine beetle

September 24, 2007

VANCOUVER -- The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources (NRCan), today announced steps to aid new mine and energy projects in British Columbia as part of Canada's Mountain Pine Beetle Program, a multi-pronged approach to address the economic impacts of the beetle infestation.

Canada's New Government is awarding two survey contracts worth $1.73 million to provide basic geoscience knowledge essential to the search for new mineral and energy deposits in areas of B.C. affected by the mountain pine beetle. Minister Lunn made the announcement at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Pine Beetle Conference.

"Mineral and energy exploration is one of the most effective ways to help diversify the resource economies of beetle-infested areas," said Minister Lunn. "Over the long term, new mine and energy projects can provide good jobs in forest-dependent communities ravaged by the mountain pine beetle."

NRCan has committed $6 million over two years to obtain new geoscience information in areas that have been impacted by the mountain pine beetle.

Two airborne helicopter surveys (radiometric/magnetic surveys) will be conducted near Prince George and Kamloops in the geological area known as the Quesnel Trough. The $1.38-million contract for aerial surveys has been awarded to Fugro Airborne Surveys of Toronto.

To date, mineral exploration in this area has been limited by extensive glacial cover and thick volcanic rocks. The basic geoscience knowledge provided by these high-resolution surveys is essential for private sector mineral exploration.

NRCan is also leading geoscience activities designed to map rock formations with known oil and gas deposits in the Nechako Basin of central B.C. These magnetotelluric (MT) surveys will help to identify key geological structures of interest to oil and gas exploration companies.

Geosystem Canada Incorporated of Toronto has been awarded a $350,000-contract to carry out a ground based MT survey along 380 kilometres of logging roads. The survey will take approximately six weeks and will be completed in October.

NRCan scientists are using a variety of other modern geological, geophysical and geochemical techniques to study the prospective rocks in both these regions. Field parties have already been in the area collecting samples and surveying. New geochemical analyses and geoscience maps will follow.

Once published, the geoscience information from both contracts and the other surveys will help focus private sector exploration for mineral and energy deposits on favourable areas, reducing the financial risk of exploration. The surveys also complement other public geoscience work being undertaken in the region by the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and by Geoscience BC. All three agencies are working cooperatively to maximize the resulting benefits to the communities.

These geoscience initiatives advance the commitment of the Government of Canada to help affected communities adapt and rebuild through a time of unprecedented change -- creating stronger, healthier and more stable communities.

The Honourable Gary Lunn, Minister of Natural Resources, has announced the awarding of two geoscience survey contracts worth $1.73 million. The contracts will provide knowledge essential to finding new mineral and energy deposits in areas of B.C. affected by the mountain pine beetle.

Media may contact:
Louise Girouard
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister
Natural Resources Canada

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