It has long been proved that British Columbia is a very rich and promising gold-field, though up to the present full justice has not been done to it. Of late years there has been a fair amount of activity in the few shares represented on the London market, but it has been merely spasmodic, and they offer little scope either for investment or speculation. A boom in British Columbian mining has been predicted more than once, but it has not yet come off, and there is little likelihood that we shall have the pleasure of witnessing it for some years to come. The gold-field undoubtedly deserves far more attention devoted to it than has hitherto been paid to it by English capitalists, and I shall hope to see it developed more extensively in the coming years.

It was not until the summer of 1887 that the first quartz discovery was made by two prospectors in the Yale district, but it excited little attention. Other discoveries were made during the next three years, which went a long way to confirm the general richness of the colony, and they began to excite attention in England, but the interest taken in the discoveries was very slight. The resources of the country, however, are still unknown, and they cannot be known for many years to come. There has been far more American capital sunk in development than English, but the money has been expended not so much to benefit the industry, as to acquire mines and manufacture shares for gambling purposes. So far the discoveries have proved the ore to be of low grade and also of a refractory character, so that the problem of their payability is one which time and science alone can solve.

The few mines that have been floated in England have been anything but brilliant successes. The vast majority of them have been failures, and have certainly not encouraged the public to invest further money in similar concerns. There was something like a small boom a few years ago, and promoters took the opportunity of floating several properties which had not been tested, and hardly any of them have been heard of since. There was, of course, the usual long list of exploration and finance companies, but as they had no opportunities of making profits either in speculation or promoting, they have not been heard of, and the promoters and others have long since spent the profits they made out of them. Other companies were formed to work placer and hydraulic mines, and none of these have yet been successful.

Alluvial mining commenced in the year 1858.

Returns from the working of reefs commenced in 1893, and the yield up to the present has been nearly £4,000,000. Whilst the yield from alluvial shows a gradual falling off, that from reef gold is increasing, though somewhat slowly. Coming to definite figures, the total value of the mineral output to the end of 1900 exceeded $152,000,000, of which placer gold represented$62,584,000,lode gold $12,813,000, silver $13,650,000, lead $7,620,000, copper $4,363,000. For 1900 the mineral output was a record, in spite of the fact that mining operations were greatly interfered with by labour disputes in two of the principal districts - the Slocan and Rossland - and to a large extent in the Nelson district, too. Other unsatisfactory features have been the collapses of the London and Globe and British America Corporations, the excitement over the special settlements in Kootenay and Ross-land Great Western shares, and the passing of the Le Roi dividend. The aggregate mineral output of British Columbia in 1900 increased from $12,393,131 in 1899 to $16,344,751, or a gain of nearly 32 per cent. The gold output rose from $4,202,653 to $4,732,105, though there was a decrease of $1,278,724 in the placer output, due to the comparative exhaustion of the shallower creek claims of Atlin. The increased yield was due, therefore, to the growth in the lode output, principally from the mines of Rossland, Boundary, and Nelson. There was also a substantial gain in the production of the hydraulic gold gravel district of the Cariboo.

The value of the mineral production of the principal districts and divisions during the past three years is shown in the following table:

1898.

1899.

1900.

$

$

$

Cariboo ....

389,360

381,900

684,527

Cassiar ....

107,300

819,380

467,479

Kootenay East...

161,370

523,666

2,855,851

„ West...

6,042,975

6,187,859

6,020,783

Lillooet ....

47,814

69,558

88,493

Yale...

432,512

315,865

1,422,465

Nanaimo, etc. ....

3,725,530

4,094,903

4,805,153

10,906,861

12,393,131

16,344,751

Of the mines producing in 1899 most of them were still producing in 1900, although a few dropped out from one cause and another. But the greatly increased tonnage of ore mined - 93 per cent. greater than in 1899 - is made up from the increased output of the older mines, and is an argument in favour of the persistency of the ore bodies. The total amount of profits distributed last year is estimated at $10,070,000, being 49 per cent. more than in 1899, and 54 per cent. more than in 1898; but English shareholders, unfortunately, have shared but slightly in these profits, they having been distributed by local and American mines. The prospects of progress during the current year appear to be very hopeful. For the six months up to June the value of the gold output of the Boundary mines has already exceeded by at least a quarter of a million dollars the value of the district's output for 1900. In Rossland the production has reached more than four-fifths the output of last year, but, unfortunately, operations for the remainder of the year are likely to be seriously interrupted by labour strikes. Owing to this the Le Roi, Le Roi No. 2, the Rossland Great Western and Kootenay mines were closed down in June. There should also be an increased production of hydraulic gold from Atlin, and likewise from Cariboo.

It will be seen from the table I have given that West Kootenay is still the chief producer, notwithstanding that its output in 1900 was slightly less than in 1899. This is by far the most important mining district of British Columbia, a great variety of mineral being found here. The gold is almost invariably associated with silver or copper, and sometimes both. The principal gold-fields in West Kootenay are Rossland, or Trail Creek, as it is popularly known; Nelson; Revelstoke, and Trout Lake; but as there has been little development work done in the two latter fields, we hear little of them. Rossland, of course, has already established itself as an important gold-field. Its reputation, however, is dependent on a small group of mines, for although many mines have been opened up throughout its area, only a few have met with payable stone. Those that are working on the richer reefs are, as I say, only a limited number, and therefore we must not be misled by the impression that because a mine is opened up on the Rossland gold-field it will be a payable one.