History

The rugged mountains of northwest BC have cast the dream of riches over prospectors and miners for over 120 years. The dramatic terrain has posed opportunities and challenges for transients and residents of Stewart, exploring for and extracting precious and base metals while coping with tremendous amounts snowfall and rain.

Old Timer

The border town of Stewart BC, and its friendly neighbour of Hyder, Alaska, sit at the head of the Portland Canal on the Pacific Ocean, Canada’s northernmost ice-free port. Stewart has seen multiple cycles of boom and bust, tied to the fluctuations of the mining industry.

Pack Train

The first gold seekers arrived in Stewart in 1898, with the first claims staked for placer gold on Bitter Creek, within the drainage that hosts the Red Mountain deposit. Some gold was extracted but thick gravel, large boulders, and fast water made primitive alluvial mining operations costly and the claims were abandoned. Lode prospectors had more success in the first decade of the twentieth century: the Portland Canal Mining Company operated a small mine for several years in the Bear Valley and, in 1910, the Red Cliff Mine commenced production complete with a 25 km long narrow gauge railway from the mine to Stewart. In the early 1900s, the population of Stewart fluctuated dramatically. In 1910, several thousands of fortune seekers called Stewart home but many left during War I, and by 1917, the population of Stewart was reduced to only 52 people.

Boom times returned in 1919 with the discovery of rich gold-silver veins at the Premier mine. This operation eventually produced over 2 million ounces of gold and was the mainstay of the Stewart economy through the great depression. Operations at Premier continued off and on until 1999 and successful exploration has continued on the site to this day. Numerous small gold, silver, lead, and zinc mines were built in the first half of the 20th century, including the Dunwell Mine and Prosperity-Porter Idaho Mine.

Granduc Mine

Prosperity returned to Stewart in the 1960s with the development of the large Granduc underground copper mine, which was in operation until 1983. Granduc employed hundreds of people and was the mainstay of the local economy from the 1960s to the 1980s. During this era, Stewart became connected by road to the BC highway network and, in 1988, to the BC Hydro grid.

The discovery of the Eskay Creek deposit in the late 1980s brought another boom to Stewart. Eskay Creek operated until 2007 and was considered to be one of the world’s richest gold-silver mines. The discovery prompted an exploration and staking rush in northwest BC, which led to discovery of mineral deposits at Red Mountain. 

In the mid-2000s, the cycle of exploration and development began again in the Stewart area. Seabridge Gold has steadily advanced its massive KSM Project, turning it into one of the world’s largest deposits of gold, copper, and molybdenum. Pretium’s adjacent Valley of the Kings deposit has received all federal and provincial permits and has commenced construction of a high-grade underground gold mine.

In the mid-2000s, the cycle of exploration and development began again in the Stewart area. Seabridge Gold has steadily advanced its massive KSM Project, turning it into one of the world’s largest deposits of gold, copper, and molybdenum. Pretium’s adjacent Valley of the Kings deposit has received all federal and provincial permits and has commenced construction of a high-grade underground gold mine.

IDM has relied on the extensive geological, engineering, and environmental data compiled by previous proponents, as well as new information, to develop a modern, underground gold mine at Red Mountain. More importantly, IDM is inspired by the deep mining history and traditions of Stewart residents, past and present, and the cultural and traditional knowledge of the local Aboriginal Groups.