Mining sector eyes treetop needles, bark for help with hitting pay dirt

An innovative pilot project sampled the tops of trees for trace amounts of precious minerals. Photo courtesy Geoscience BC.

VANCOUVER — British Columbia's trees could hold the key to identifying promising new mineral deposits hidden across the province.

A provincial science group is set to release the results of an innovative pilot project that samples the tops of trees for trace amounts of precious minerals in order to help mining companies hit pay dirt.

Bruce Madu of Geoscience BC says coniferous trees have long been known to pick up metals and other elements from surrounding soil and concentrate them in their twigs, bark and needles.

Madu says analyzing these tree elements over a broad area could offer a lens into the types and abundance of commercially valuable materials deep beneath their roots.

Last June, researchers used a helicopter to collect samples from more than 420 trees scattered across a 1,000-square-foot plateau region of central B.C.

The new sampling method offers another way for mineral-exploration outfits to study regions that are otherwise difficult to access.

The Canadian Press

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