Bear Creek

Mine, Active

Commodities and mineralogy

Main commodities Au
Other commodities Hg; Pt
Ore minerals cinnabar; gold; platinum

Geographic location

Quadrangle map, 1:250,000-scale RM
Quadrangle map, 1:63,360-scale A-3
Latitude 61.0513
Longitude -159.7887
Nearby scientific data Find additional scientific data near this location
Location and accuracy Bear Creek is a large, northeast headwater tributary to the Tuluksak River. Bear Creek has been mined extensively by dredge and mechanized equipment for about 7 miles from about 2 miles above the mouth of Bonanza Creek, downstream to just below the mouth of Shamrock Creek. The coordinates are at about the midpoint of the productive part of the creek, about 0.5 mile south of the center of section 8, T. 11 N., R. 59 W., of the Seward Meridian. This is locality 20 of Hoare and Cobb (1972, 1977). The location is probably accurate to within 1,000 feet.

Geologic setting

Geologic description

Gold was first discovered in the Nyac district on Bear Creek near the mouth of Bonanza Creek in 1907 or 1908 (Maddren (1915; Mining World, 1941) and gold was discovered soon after on the Tuluksak River (RM028). For many years thereafter the mining in the district, including on Bear Creek, was carried out by the New York-Alaska Company and its successor the New York Gold Dredging Company, which built a company town at Nyac on the Tuluksak River. In 1990, Nyac Mining Company began mining in the area, primarily on Spruce Creek and Bear Creek under an agreement with the Calista Native Corporation which owns most of the placer claims in the district.
A small wood-hulled dredge mined on Bear Creek from 1926 to 1936 when its parts were used to build another dredge on the Tuluksak River (Mining World, 1941). Another steel-hulled dredge operated from at least 1973(?) to 1991 on upper Bear Creek; it mined to about a mile above the mouth of Bonanza Creek where it remained in 2006 (Bundtzen and others, 1991; Tom Ratledge, personal communication, 2006). In addition to dredging there has been extensive mining using various mechanized equipment from soon after gold was discovered to as late as 2004 or 2005. In many places the workings extend for a thousand feet or more across the creek. A year or more prior to 2006, the Nyac Mining Company mined a cut with mechanized equipment about 2 miles above the mouth of Bonanza Creek; the area has now been reclaimed (D.J. Grybeck, personal observation, 2006).
There seems to be little indication of mining on Bear Creek from below the mouth of Shamrock Creek to the Tuluksak River. The reasons are unclear and several explanations are currently held among the miners in the area (D.J. Grybeck, personal conversations during field work, 2006). One is that the area was drilled and the gold values were not encouraging; another is that the ground is too deep and/or too wet to dredge.
Production figures are not available for the long history of mining on Bear Creek but the district as a whole has produced more than 600,000 ounces of gold and a significant portion of that came from Bear Creek (Calista Corporation, 2008).
Joesting (1942) reported that some platinum was produced with the gold and that asbestos and graphite were dredged from bedrock. There is little evidence that a significant amount of platinum was produced. Cinnabar is common in placer concentrates from Bear Creek (Jim Anderson, personal communication, 2006) and quartz veins with cinnabar that cut boulders can be found in the tailings along Bear Creek (Melanie Werdon, personal communication, 2006).
Most of the rocks in the drainage basin of Bear Creek are hornfelsed or regionally metamorphosed Jurassic volcanic and sedimentary rocks cut by mid-Cretaceous granitic plutons and Jurassic gabbro (Box and others, 1993; Wenz, 2005).
Geologic map unit (-159.791001022704, 61.0505692214606)
Mineral deposit model Placer Au-PGE (Cox and Singer, 1986; model 39a).
Mineral deposit model number 39a
Age of mineralization Quaternary.

Production and reserves

Workings or exploration
Gold was first discovered in the Nyac district on Bear Creek near the mouth of Bonanza Creek in 1907 or 1908 (Maddren (1915; Mining World, 1941) and gold was discovered soon after on the Tuluksak River (RM028). For many years thereafter the mining in the district, including on Bear Creek, was carried out by the New York-Alaska Company and its successor the New York Gold Dredging Company, which built a company town at Nyac on the Tuluksak River. In 1990, Nyac Mining Company began mining in the area, primarily on Spruce Creek and Bear Creek under an agreement with the Calista Native Corporation which owns most of the placer claims in the district.
A small wood-hulled dredge mined on Bear Creek from 1926 to 1936 when its parts were used to build another dredge on the Tuluksak River (Mining World, 1941). Another steel-hulled dredge operated from at least 1973(?) to 1991 on upper Bear Creek; it mined to about a mile above the mouth of Bonanza Creek where it remained in 2006 (Bundtzen and others, 1991; Tom Ratledge, personal communication, 2006). In addition to dredging there has been extensive mining using various mechanized equipment from soon after gold was discovered to as late as 2004 or 2005. In many places the workings extend for a thousand feet or more across the creek. A year or more prior to 2006, the Nyac Mining Company mined a cut with mechanized equipment about 2 miles above the mouth of Bonanza Creek; the area has now been reclaimed (D.J. Grybeck, personal observation, 2006).
There seems to be little indication of mining on Bear Creek from below the mouth of Shamrock Creek to the Tuluksak River. The reasons are unclear and several explanations are currently held among the miners in the area (D.J. Grybeck, personal conversations during field work, 2006). One is that the area was drilled and the gold values were not encouraging; another is that the ground is too deep and/or too wet to dredge.
The first hardrock exploration holes at Nyac were drilled by Placer Dome
Exploration Inc. in 1996. Placer Dome drilled eleven reverse circulation holes through the gold-bearing valley gravels of Bear Creek (Strachan, 2008). Placer Dome’s drill holes were restricted to the valleys in the apparent belief that Nyac’s placers were derived directly from the underlying bedrock (Wenz, 2005).
Indication of production Yes; medium
Reserve estimates None a matter of public record but some gold probably remains to be mined.
Production notes Production figures are not available for the long history of mining on Bear Creek but the district as a whole has more than 600,000 ounces of gold; a significant portion of that came from Bear Creek (Calista, 2008).

References