Decades ago, local miners struck gold inside Bear Mountain. In the coming years, Carl von Einsiedel hopes to find even more.
Von Einsiedel is a Harrison Hot Springs resident, registered professional geologist and the CEO of Bear Mountain Gold Mines. Collaborating closely with the District of Kent, von Einsiedel hopes to develop a thriving gold mine in Bear Mountain in the near future. He’s been working at the newest iteration of a Bear Mountain mining project since 2012.
Von Einsiedel researched the small, historic RN gold mine that was established decades ago, located off of Bear Mountain Forest Service Road, that operated in Bear Mountain back in the 1970s. Based on his extensive research back in the 80s, von Einsiedel said it’s possible Bear Mountain is home to “significant gold reserves.”
“If I’m right, I think the gold deposits could be safely mined without causing any negative impoacts on the Harrison-Agassiz community by driving a tunnel from the east side of Bear Mountain,” von Einsiedel said.
The current mine entrance off Bear Mountain FSR is blocked off for the safety of the public.
Mining operations of any size requires significant preparation before ground is even broken.
“I’ve spent a lot of time working with the Ministry of Mines and meeting with the District Council, working on a development permit application. I’ve jumped through an astronomical number of hoops to get this far, and I feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel,” von Einsiedel said. “I’m feeling like it’s time to let people know what’s going on.”
Von Einsiedel acknowledges mining is a touchy subject, particularly for the village of Harrison Hot Springs and the surrounding area and the proposed quarry. In May 2017, district officials received a staff report from the Agriculture Land Commission concerning an inclusion application for a 0.8 hectare parcel of land on Hot Springs Road, which was meant to compensate for a proposed trail that would allow access to the rear of 3628 Hot Springs Road for mining purposes. Opponents of the proposed quarry, dubbed the Friends of Agassiz and Harrison Hot Springs, presented their case against the mine in early 2018. The anti-quarry group touts a number of points against the mine, including dust, pollution, noise, the significant impact on the tourism industry and much more. In mid-June of this year, the Harrison Hot Springs Village Council voted to write a letter of support for the ongoing resistance to the quarry.
“People are worried about this stuff having an impact. I have no choice but to anticipate concerns and ensure that there’s a solution that will satisfy people’s concerns,” von Einsiedel said.
He believes there is enough gold to keep a small mining operation going indefinitely, but if numbers were to being as promising as he anticipates, then it’s possible that the operation could scale up to something bigger.
Even if development was to grow into a wide-scale, modern commercial mining operation, von Einsiedel said a majority of the work would end up being done underground. A majority of any vehicles involved would take an alternate route to the mine via a service road constructing on Crown off of Lougheed Highway and up a B.C. Hydro service corridor not accessible to the public, skirting around private property boundaries and missing the district’s urban centres by a fairly wide margin.
“It could all be developed underground and accessed underground,” von Einsiedel said. “It wouldn’t leave a big footprint on Rockwell drive or in Harrison-Agassiz. We put a lot of effort into that model.”
Von Einsiedel indicated while some potential gold mines cause serious hazards to area water supplies due to toxic runoff materials, he said Bear Mountain’s development has “zero potential” of acid-generating mine waste due to the type of rocks involved.
Any major development in mining on Bear Mountain likely won’t materialize for another few years. At this point, von Einsiedel is working to start testing the east side of the mountain for gold deposits, essentially repeating his work form the 80s to better assess the mine’s potential. He hopes to start with a small drill crew this fall to confirm his previous research. According to the project summary report, it’s estimated this phase of the project will run for between two and three years.
Though the road ahead is long and undoubtedly full of obstacles, von Einsiedel holds on to hope.
“I see this as a really good opportunity,” he said. “It’s really hairy to take on by myself, and I can’t do it without demonstrating to the community that it potentially has a lot of benefits and very few negative impacts, if any.”
Carl von Einsiedel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone with further questions.
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