Silver Copper Gold Antimony Arsenic

Virtual Museum ID: 19-BCGS-ES1

Specimen Summary

Silver is an important precious metal. It is still highly valued today and has many important uses, as well as being used for jewellery. Silver has the highest electrical and thermal conductivity and reflectivity of all metals and is widely used in electronics and industrial chemistry. It is also used to make mirrors, photographic and x-ray film and collectible coins. Silver has natural antiseptic properties, therefore, has many different medical applications. Silver can occur in its elemental form as metallic silver, or in compounds and minerals with other elements like gold and lead. Silver has a distinct silver-grey colour and is soft and malleable, meaning it can be easily worked and shaped.

Native Copper is a form of copper that occurs as a natural mineral. It is uncombined. Copper rarely occurs in a native form as it usually occurs mixed with other elements or in oxidized states. Most of the copper that is produced is extracted from sulfide deposits. It is metallic, has an opaque diaphaneity, is soft and has an isometric crystal system. Copper is used as a conductor of electricity, specifically as wiring. It is also a conductor of heat and used to make cooking utensils. Copper is used to make alloys as well.

Gold is a valuable, highly prized mineral used in everything from jewellery to electronics and dentistry. Gold is desirable due to its special properties, such as malleability and resistance to tarnishing. Gold is commonly microscopic or embedded within or around sulphide grains. Free visible gold occurs as disseminated grains, or rarely as crystals. Crystals of gold commonly form within or around quartz. In its natural mineral form, gold is commonly alloyed with silver. Gold is distinguishable by its characteristic golden yellow colour and extreme heaviness.

Stibnite is a sulfide mineral. It is an important source for the metalloid antimony. It has a orthorhombic crystal system, subconchoidal fracture and is opaque. Stibnite occurs in hydrothermal deposits. It is common to find small deposits of stibnite but more rare to find larger deposits.

Arsenic(As) is a very brittle element that can be tin-white, tarnishing to dark grey or black. Can be found in pure elemental crystal but is usually found in combination with sulfur and metals. Arsenic has many industrial uses some of which include: bronzing, pyrotechny, insecticides, and poisons, and as a doping agent in transistors to name a few.

Specimen Data


The information listed below relates to the current holding location or collection that the sample is from, and whether the item is viewable at that location or is part of a private collection. Coordinates are given as guides, and we remind you that collecting specimens from these locations is not allowed. Caution is advised visiting such sites and Below BC assumes no responsibility for any injuries or trespassing charges that may occur as a result of the viewer entering these sites.

Collection Details

Original Collection:

British Columbia Geological Survey (BCGS)

Sub Collection:


Collection ID:


Virtual Museum ID:



Date Added to VM:


Location Information

Sample Origin:

Houston, B.C.

Specific Site:

Equity Silver Mines

UTM Easting:


UTM Northing:



09 (NAD 83)

Coordinate Accuracy:

Specimen Details

VM Category:

Ore Sample

Primary Features:

Silver Copper Gold Antimony Arsenic

Primary Mineral Formula:

Ag · Cu · Au · Ag · As

Primary Category:

native element

Secondary Features:

Advanced Geological Information


The following section provides geological data relating to the specimen or the site it was collected from, when available. Information has been obtained from various sources including private and government datasets but may not be up to date. Any geological time periods or ages listed often relate to the primary geology of the area, and may not be the actual date of an event such as mineral formation.

Geological Formation:

Lower-Upper Skeena(?) Group

Geological Period:


Stratigraphic Age:

145.5 - 66 Ma

Geological Belt:


Geological Terrane:


Minfile ID:

093L 001

Site Details:

Silver, copper and gold are produced from the Equity Silver deposit. In addition antimony and arsenic were leached from the concentrate and recovered as byproducts; however, due to metallurgical difficulties this process was discontinued.

The mineral deposits are located within an erosional window of uplifted Cretaceous age sedimentary, pyroclastic and volcanic rocks near the midpoint of the Buck Creek Basin. Strata within the inlier strike 015 degrees with 45 degree west dips and are in part correlative with the Lower-Upper Skeena(?) Group. Three major stratigraphic units have been recognized. A lower clastic division is composed of basal conglomerate, chert pebble conglomerate and argillite. A middle pyroclastic division consists of a heterogeneous sequence of tuff, breccia and reworked pyroclastic debris. This division hosts the main mineral deposits. An upper sedimentary-volcanic division consists of tuff, sandstone and conglomerate. The inlier is flanked by flat-lying to shallow dipping Eocene andesitic to basaltic flows and flow breccias of the Francois Lake Group (Goosly Lake and Buck Creek formations).

Intruding the inlier is a small granitic intrusive (57.2 Ma) on the west side, and Eocene Goosly Intrusions gabbro-monzonite (48 Ma) on the east side.

The chief sulphides at the Equity Silver mine are pyrite, chalcopyrite, pyrrhotite and tetrahedrite with minor amounts of galena, sphalerite, argentite, minor pyrargyrite and other silver sulphosalts. These are accompanied by advanced argillic alteration clay minerals, chlorite, specularite and locally sericite, pyrophyllite, andalusite, tourmaline and minor amounts of scorzalite, corundum and dumortierite. The three known zones of significant mineralization are referred to as the Main zone, the Southern Tail zone and the more recently discovered Waterline zone. The ore mineralization is generally restricted to tabular fracture zones roughly paralleling stratigraphy and occurs predominantly as veins and disseminations with massive, coarse-grained sulphide replacement bodies present as local patches in the Main zone. Main zone ores are fine-grained and generally occur as disseminations with a lesser abundance of veins. Southern Tail ores are coarse-grained and occur predominantly as veins with only local disseminated sulphides. The Main zone has a thickness of 60 to 120 metres while the Southern Tail zone is approximately 30 metres thick. An advanced argillic alteration suite includes andalusite, corundum, pyrite, quartz, tourmaline and scorzalite. Other zones of mineralization include a zone of copper-molybdenum mineralization in a quartz stockwork in and adjacent to the quartz monzonite stock and a large zone of tourmaline-pyrite breccia located to the west and northwest of the Main zone.

Alteration assemblages in the Goosly sequence are characterized by minerals rich in alumina, boron and phosphorous, and show a systematic spatial relationship to areas of mineral deposits. Aluminous alteration is characterized by a suite of aluminous minerals including andalusite, corundum, pyrophyllite and scorzalite. Boron-bearing minerals consisting of tourmaline and dumortierite occur within the ore zones in the hanging wall section of the Goosly sequence. Phosphorous-bearing minerals including scorzalite, apatite, augelite and svanbergite occur in the hanging wall zone, immediately above and intimately associated with sulphide minerals in the Main and Waterline zones. Argillic alteration is characterized by weak to pervasive sericite-quartz replacement. It appears to envelope zones of intense fracturing, with or without chalcopyrite/tetrahedrite mineralization.

The copper-silver-gold mineralization is epigenetic in origin. Intrusive activity resulted in the introduction of hydrothermal metal-rich solutions into the pyroclastic division of the Goosly sequence. Sulphides introduced into the permeable tuffs of the Main and Waterline zones formed stringers and disseminations which grade randomly into zones of massive sulphide. In the Southern Tail zone, sulphides formed as veins, fracture-fillings and breccia zones in brittle, less permeable tuff. Emplacement of post-mineral dikes into the sulphide-rich pyroclastic rocks has resulted in remobilization and concentration of sulphides adjacent to the intrusive contacts. Remobilization, concentration and contact metamorphism of sulphides occurs in the Main and Waterline zones at the contact with the postmineral gabbro-monzonite complex.

The Equity Silver mine was British Columbia's largest producing silver mine.

The Southern Tail deposit has been mined out to the economic limit of an open pit. With its operation winding down, Equity Silver Mines does not expect to continue as an operating mine after current reserves are depleted. Formerly an open pit, Equity is mined from underground at a scaled-down rate of 1180 tonnes-per-day. Proven and probable ore reserves at the end of 1992 were about 286,643 tonnes grading 147.7 grams per tonne silver, 4.2 grams per tonne gold and 0.46 per cent copper, based on a 300 grams per tonne silver-equivalent grade. Equity has also identified a small open-pit resource at the bottom of the Waterline pit which, when combined with underground reserves, should provide mill feed through the first two months of 1994 (Northern Miner - May 10, 1993).

Equity Silver Mines Ltd. ceased milling in January 1994, after thirteen years of open pit and underground production. Production totalled 2,219,480 kilograms of silver, 15,802 kilograms of gold and 84,086 kilograms of copper, from over 33.8 Million tonnes mined at an average grade of 0.4 per cent copper, 64.9 grams per tonne silver and 0.46 gram per tonne gold.

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