Mining sector eyes treetop needles, bark for help with hitting pay dirt – by Geordon Omand (Canadian Press – April 11 2016)

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s trees could hold the key to unearthing the whereabouts of promising new mineral deposits hidden in remote and inaccessible regions of the province.

A provincial science group has released the results of an innovative pilot project that collects and studies samples from the tops of spruce trees for trace amounts of precious minerals in order to help mining companies hit pay dirt.

“It’s a bit of a holy grail,” said Bruce Madu, vice-president for minerals and mining with Geoscience BC, an independent public agency. “Imagine if you can only sample the vegetation to learn about what’s in the soil, as opposed to actually having to dig holes.”

Conifers have long been known to absorb metals and other elements from the surrounding soil and concentrate them in their twigs, bark and needles.

Analyzing the tree elements over a large region and mapping them out could offer a glimpse into the types and abundance of commercially valuable materials deep beneath their roots, Madu said.

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