Northwest B.C. will be getting a regional geologist come April.
Nate Corcoran, a graduate of Memorial University in St. John’s, NL, kicked around in the exploration business for a few years before signing on with the B.C. Geological Survey in July 2021. He has been working in Prince George for the past few months, but will take on responsibility for the Northwest (Fraser Lake to the coast and north to Yukon) April 1. He plans on moving to Smithers in June.
Corcoran was in Smithers Feb. 23 and 24 to emcee the Smithers Exploration Group’s (SEG) 2022 Rock Talk.
“It was fun and nice to meet some people and talk to people virtually and get some questions,” he said. “I think it’s good for the community to at least get this sense of involvement with the Smithers Exploration Group and potentially, moving forward, get people back more in person and get some of these networking events back on the go.
“I think generally, in the earth science community, that’s how we thrive and succeed is to get people together and talk rocks and be able to see what’s happening where and allow everyone to be up to date with what’s happening in the region.”
Rock Talk highlighted what is going on in the Northwest from individual mining projects to broader geological trends and economic impact.
“It’s really nice to see that the mineral exploration industry, especially in northwestern BC is really booming right now,” Corcoran said. “So it’s good to see and also to see that that money is getting trickled back into the economy in small towns like Smithers, very cool.
In fact, a recent report by the Association for Mineral Exploration (AME) released at its annual Roundup conference at the beginning of February, noted mineral exploration companies spent more money in Smithers in 2020 than in any other municipality in the province.
At the AME conference, Bruce Ralston, Minister of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation, announced 2021 was an even bigger year for the province with a near-record $659.8 million in mineral exploration expenditures.
Corcoran’s job will be to report back to the government on mineral exploration and mining activities in the Northwest as well as do public outreach to help individuals and companies access government resources and liaise with First Nations on land use management.
For Jessy Chaplin, chair of this year’s Rock Talk, which wrapped this morning (Feb. 24), the highlight of the SEG conference was having Corcoran on board.
“We’re very excited about Nate Corcoran,” she said. “We’re very excited that he’s coming to Smithers and we’re super excited that he was able to facilitate today because the Northwest hasn’t had a regional geologist for a while.”
Rock Talk was a hybrid affair this year, with participants attending both in-person and via the internet.
While in-person attendance was down from pre-COVID numbers, Chaplin was happy with how the conference went overall.
“We were very well attended virtually, and then not so much in person,” she said. “And that’s kind of a combination of people being uncertain of COVID rules and their comfort around being around other people. So we’re hoping that next year, we’ll get bigger in person like we’ve had in previous years.”
That being said, she expects the virtual component will be back next year and beyond.
“I think we’re going to see a lot of blended events like they did with AME,” she said noting Roundup saw attendance of around 4,000 this year with a 50-50 split between in-person and online participants.
SEG is also planning on ramping back up its other in-person events such as the Rocks and Rambling gathering, monthly get-togethers, the Babine-Hazeltons Geotour and is even talking about putting on a golf tournament this year, she said.