Champion-Providence Mine

Past Producer in Nevada county in California, United States with commodities Gold, Silver, Copper

Geologic information

Identification information

Deposit ID 10310701
Record type Site
Current site name Champion-Providence Mine
Alternate or previous names Champion, Providence, Champion Group, Nevada City, Wyoming, Home, Merrifield, Cadmus, New Year, Soggs, several other properties

Comments on the site identification

  • The Champion and Providence mines were originally developed independently, but were later consolidated along with many other adjacent mines (see ?Other Names? above) as the Champion Group. The area controlled by the Champion Company at one time was 440 acres. This group is one of the two most productive in the Nevada City Mining District.

Geographic coordinates

Geographic coordinates: -121.03694, 39.25889 (WGS84)
Elevation 700
Location accuracy 100(meters)
Relative position The Champion-Providence Mine is about one mile west-southwest of Nevada City.
(click for info)

Geographic areas

Country State County
United States California Nevada

Public Land Survey System information

Meridian Township Range Section Fraction State
Mount Diablo 016N 008E 11 SE California

Comments on the location information

  • Location selected for latitude and longitude is the Champion Mine adit symbol on the USGS 7.5-minute Nevada City quadrangle (1969 version). Although shown as an adit on the quadrangle map, the main workings at the Champion and adjacent Providence were inclined shafts. This location is appoximately midway between the main shafts of the Champion and Providence mines.

Commodities

Commodity Importance
Gold Primary
Silver Primary
Copper Secondary

Comments on the commodity information

  • Commodity Info: Specimen ore is rarely present. The native gold is rarely visible to the naked eye. The silver:gold ratio in the sulfides is 3.5:1 according to Lindgren (1896b), although gold predominated by weight and value. The sulfides carried about 30% of the ore value. Hobson and Wiltsee (1893) reported that value of the sulfides ran about $80-150 per ton.
  • Ore Materials: Native gold, auriferous sulfides (pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, minor arsenopyrite and pyrrhotite), silver-bearing telluride (altaite)
  • Gangue Materials: Quartz

Materials information

Materials Type of material
Gold Ore
Pyrite Ore
Chalcopyrite Ore
Galena Ore
Sphalerite Ore
Arsenopyrite Ore
Pyrrhotite Ore
Telluride Ore
Altaite Ore
Quartz Gangue

Alteration

  • (Local) Carbonate; calcite

Mineral occurrence model information

Model code 273
USGS model code 36a
Deposit model name Low-sulfide Au-quartz vein
Mark3 model number 27

Host and associated rocks

  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Plutonic Rock > Granitoid > Granodiorite
    Rock unit name Yuba Rivers Pluton
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Jurassic
  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Metamorphic Rock > Metasedimentary Rock > Slate
    Rock unit name Lake Combie Complex
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Jurassic
  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Metamorphic Rock > Schist
    Rock unit name Lake Combie Complex
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Jurassic
  • Host or associated Host
    Rock type Plutonic Rock > Mafic Intrusive Rock > Diorite > Diabase
    Rock unit name Lake Combie Complex
    Stratigraphic age (youngest) Jurassic

Nearby scientific data

(1) -121.03694, 39.25889

Geologic structures

Type of structure Regional
Structure description Weimar Fault Zone

Ore body information

  • General form Tabular

Controls for ore emplacement

  • Ore shoots within quartz veins formed by open-space filling along a fault zone that approximately follows the contact between metamorphic rock and granodiorite. Lindgren (1896b) observed that where the Merrifield Vein was widest, the ore is generally poor in grade.

Comments on the geologic information

  • REGIONAL GEOLOGY The Champion-Providence Group of mines is within the Nevada City District, which is adjacent to the Grass Valley District, home to California's two largest underground gold mines, the Empire and the Idaho-Maryland. The district is situated in the northern portion of the Sierra Nevada Foothills Gold Belt. This belt averages 50 miles wide and extends for about 150 miles in a north-northwest orientation along the western slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The Foothills Gold Belt approximately coincides with the Foothills Metamorphic Belt, which in this area can be subdivided into four major lithotectonic belts: Western Belt, Central Belt, Feather River Peridotite Belt, and Eastern Belt. The Nevada City District lies within the Central Belt, which in the Nevada City-Grass Valley area is marked by a 15-mile-wide north-trending assemblage of two accreted terranes that range from Paleozoic-Late Triassic to Late Jurassic in age. The Central Belt is bounded on the east and west by regional-scale tectonic zones: the Wolf Creek Fault Zone on the west and the Melones Fault Zone on the east. Although some early geologists considered the mines at Nevada City and those on Banner Hill as forming two separate districts, all of these mines are considered here to be part of the "Nevada City District." The oldest rocks in the Central Belt in this area are those of the Paleozoic-Triassic metasedimentary Calaveras Complex, which is exposed in the east part of the belt. Derived from marine sedimentary rocks, these were converted to schistose or slaty rocks during the Late Paleozoic orogeny and locally into a contact-metamorphic biotite gneiss by granodiorite intruded during the Late Mesozoic. Exposed in the west part of the belt, and underlying the two mining districts, are metamorphic rocks of the Jurassic Lake Combie Complex. Slate of the Jurassic Mariposa Formation is exposed in a small area southeast of the Nevada City-Grass Valley area. Igneous and metaigneous rocks in this area include granodiorite, diabase, porphyrite, amphibolite schist, serpentinite, gabbro, diorite, quartz porphyry, and various dike rocks (Johnston, 1940). The main host rocks for the ore deposits of the two districts are rocks of the Lake Combie Complex and younger granitic rocks that intrude them. The veins of the Nevada City and neighboring Grass Valley districts are not connected with, nor are they continuations of, the famous Mother Lode vein system to the south. The northernmost veins of the Mother Lode end about 20 miles to the south. The Nevada City District is at the southern end of a large body of Jurassic granodiorite called the Yuba Rivers Pluton (Saucedo and Wagner, 1992). Here, the granodiorite is in intrusive contact with a north-trending belt of older metamorphic rocks (Lake Combie Complex of Tuminas, 1983) that consist of slate, schist, diabase, gabbro, and serpentinite. The east part of the district is covered with younger Tertiary volcanic rocks in places. The veins in the vicinity of Nevada City are concentrated along or near the contact of the granodiorite body with the metamorphic complex and are arranged in two main systems: one trends west-northwest with steep dips to the north or south, while the other trends northerly with medium dips to the east and contains the most productive veins. In general, according to Koschmann and Bergendahl (1968), the veins of the Nevada City District are mineralogically similar to those of the Grass Valley District. There are several differences in the character of the veins between the two districts, however. One is that the Grass Valley veins contain larger amounts of coarse gold. The following characteristics of the Nevada City District are summarized from Lindgren (1896b), Hobson and Wiltsee (1893), and Johnston (1938):
  • REGIONAL GEOLOGY (continued) The most productive veins in the vicinity of the town of Nevada City are near or along the contact between the metamorphic rocks and granodiorite. They do not tend to directly coincide with the contact itself. The veins of the district are generally larger than those at Grass Valley; they range from a few to as much as 40 feet in width with an average of about 2 to 6 feet. Overall, the veins of the district contain more silver than those at Grass Valley, and generally the contained sulfides are richer in gold. Sulfides are generally auriferous and can constitute as much as 20% of the vein material. Pyrite is the dominant sulfide, with lesser amounts of galena, sphalerite, chalcopyrite, arsenopyrite, and tetrahedrite. Molybdenite and tellurides are locally present. Compared to Grass Valley, however, the veins are lower in grade and rarely contain coarse or specimen gold. The gangue is mainly quartz, although calcite and ankerite are abundant and later than the quartz; minor gangue minerals locally include sericite, chlorite, epidote, and chalcedony. Study of the paragenesis of the district by Johnston (1938) indicated that vein-filling developed in two main stages: quartz first, then carbonate, with a transistion of deposition between the two types. The sulfides and gold were deposited during the quartz stage. Hydrothermal alteration of the wallrock consists of carbonate, sericitic, and pyritic. Replacement of wallrock by silica was not noted, although small fissures filled with carbonates and quartz can be common. In places, the veins are associated with dikes. All of the veins have some gouge, which indicates that they were emplaced along faults. Detailed studies of several veins indicate that they were formed by successive movement along the faults with subsequent deposition of quartz; at least four separate cycles of movement and deposition have been recognized. Ore shoots have been followed down-dip as much as 2,700 feet. The nearby Banner Hill part of the Nevada City District has some distinct differences from those closer to Nevada City proper. Among these differences are the narrowness of the veins and their prevailing east-west strike with low to moderate dips to the north or south; locally, north-south-striking veins are present. A few of the east-west-striking veins have nearly vertical dips. The east-west set appears to generally follow a system of joints or sheeting in the granodiorite country rock. Ores are commonly of high grade, with much silver and sulfides.
  • LOCAL GEOLOGY The Champion-Providence Group is developed along an extensive gold-bearing quartz vein complex that is emplaced along the contact between a body of Mesozoic granodiorite and a suite of older metamorphic rocks, which consists largely of slate-argillite and minor diabase. The veins in the Champion-Providence complex are wide and show abundant evidence that they were emplaced along faults; the most prominent veins are the Merrifield, Ural, and Wyoming. These veins carry the largest percentage of sulfides in the Nevada City Mining District. The Merrifield Vein has a strike of N0-20W and an average dip of 35NE, ranging from 29NE to 45NE. Lindgren (1896b) believed the Merrifield Vein to be at least 4 miles long; MacBoyle (1919) reported it to be at least 11,000 feet long. This vein is also notable for the extent of crushed wallrock adjacent to the vein. In places, it is 30 feet wide. Some of this material is replaced by calcite and pyrite that carried gold at a grade of up to $2-3/ton in the 1800?s. The quartz veins in this crushed zone range from one to 10 feet in width. The ore is milky white quartz with an average of 6% sulfides composed of pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, and minor arsenopyrite. The Ural Vein is parallel to and about 500 feet west of the Merrifield Vein. Similar to the Merrifield, it follows the contact between the metamorphic rock and granodiorite, and has an average dip of 35NE. Near the Providence and Champion main shafts, the vein assumes a peculiar westerly strike, which may have been caused by faulting. The vein averages about 2-3 feet in width. In one place, the wallrock of the vein consists of decomposed diabase. Locally, gold-bearing stringers with good ore are present in the footwall. Sulfides range from 5-8% and consist of pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, and sphalerite. A telluride of silver and lead (altaite) and some molybdenite were also reported. One segment of the Ural Vein, known at one time as the New Year?s Vein in the Champion Mine, contained 50-90 percent sulfides in places. The Wyoming Vein strikes more northwesterly than the Ural and dips about 25NE. The Merrifield and Ural veins at the Champion and Providence mines are notable for their high silver content; the sulfides were reported by Lindgren (1896b) to contain 10-16 ounces of silver per ton in contrast to an average of no less than 5 ounces of gold per ton. Ore shoots along the vein system are somewhat irregular, commonly dipping to the north. The main ore shoot in the Providence Mine persisted from near the surface to an inclined depth of at least 2,700 feet. It had a stope length of 300-400 feet and a thickness of 2-10 feet.

Economic information

Economic information about the deposit and operations

Operation type Underground
Development status Past Producer
Commodity type Metallic
Deposit size Medium
Significant Yes
Discovery year 1851

Mining district

District name Nevada City District

Land status

Ownership category Private
Area name Nevada County Planning Department

Comments on the workings information

  • Workings at this group of mines consisted of many miles of shafts, drifts, and some crosscuts. The Champion Mine was opened by both a tunnel from Deer Creek and an inclined shaft. Workings reached a depth of at least 2,700 feet on the incline in both the Providence and Champion shafts. As of 1918, a winze started from the Providence Mine at the 2,700-foot level had bottomed at 2,800 feet. There were at least 10 levels worked from the Champion shaft. The ground in the workings was reportedly very heavy in places and required extensive timbering, much of which had to be replaced frequently.

Comments on other economic factors

  • Total production from the Champion Mine was estimated by Clark (1970) at about $3,000,000, although it is not clear if this was from the original Champion Mine or from the later consolidated operation. MacBoyle (1919) estimated a combined production of $8-9 million from the Ural and Merrifield veins alone. He also reported that combined production from the entire group of mines was variously estimated at $8-20 million, althought the latter figure may be to high. Production from the Champion Group from 1911 to 1920 was about $1.5 million.

Comments on development

  • Individual mines of the Champion-Providence group operated during the period from the middle 1800?s to 1919, closing in 1920 because mining costs exceeded the value of the ore. During the period 1892-1902, apex litigation occurred between the Champion and Providence mines.; the dispute was resolved when the Champion Company purchased the Providence Mine. At the time of closing, the Champion Group was under control of the North Star Mines Company. Its subsequent operational history was not conclusively determined, although it appears that there was no additional mining. Havard (1980) prepared a consulting report on the Champion Group that investigated possible re-opening of the mines. The most productive mines in the Champion Group were the Providence, Champion, Nevada City, Wyoming, and Home. The main ore shoot in the Providence Mine persisted from near the surface to an inclined depth of at least 2,700 feet. It had a stope length of 300-400 feet and a thickness of 2-10 feet. Amalgamation, chlorination, and cyanide processes were used at this group of mines. In the 1800?s, the Providence Mine employed a 40-stamp mill and chlorination works. During World War I, about 80% of the gold saved was recovered by cyanidation. Waste from mining and milling was disposed of along Deer Creek. There is little remaining evidence of the surface operations at these mines. In 1918, chromite ore from nearby mines was crushed at the stamp mill.

Reference information

Bibliographic references

  • Deposit

    Clark, W.B., 1970, Gold districts of California: California Division of Mines and Geology Bulletin 193, p. 97-101.

  • Deposit

    Crawford, J.J., 1894, Nevada County: Twelfth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 187.

  • Deposit

    Crawford, J.J., 1896, Nevada County: Thirteenth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 239, 260.

  • Deposit

    Havard, J.F., 1980, The Champion Mines Preliminary Report: Unpublished report prepared for Erickson Lumber Company.

  • Deposit

    Hobson, J.B. and Wiltsee, E.M., 1893, Nevada City Mining District: Eleventh Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 285-296.

  • Deposit

    Hobson, J.B., 1890, Nevada City Mining District: Tenth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 386-387.

  • Deposit

    Irelan, W., Jr., 1887, Nevada County: Sixth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 47-50.

  • Deposit

    Irelan, W., Jr., 1888, Nevada County: Eighth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 418-420.

  • Deposit

    Johnston, W.G., Jr., 1938, Vein-filling at Nevada City, California: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 49, no. 1, p. 23-34.

  • Deposit

    Johnston, W.G., Jr., 1940, The gold-quartz veins of Grass Valley, California: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 194, 101 p.

  • Deposit

    Koschmann, A.H., and Bergendahl, M.H., 1968, Principal gold-producing districts of the United States: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 610, 283 p.

  • Deposit

    Lindgren, W., 1896a, Geologic atlas of the United States - Nevada City Special Folio: U.S. Geological Survey Folio 29, 7 p.

  • Deposit

    Lindgren, W., 1896b, The gold-quartz veins of Nevada City and Grass Valley Districts, California: Seventeenth Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, Part 2, p. 1-262.

  • Deposit

    Logan, C.A., 1921, Nevada County: Seventeenth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 435-436.

  • Deposit

    Logan, C.A., 1930, Nevada County: Twenty-sixth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California Division of Mines, p. 103-104.

  • Deposit

    MacBoyle, E.M., 1919, Mines and mineral resources of Nevada County: Sixteenth Annual Report of the State Mineralogist, California State Mining Bureau, p. 1-270.

  • Deposit

    Saucedo, G.J. and Wagner, D.L., 1992, Geologic map of the Chico Quadrangle, California: California Department of Conservation, Division of Mines and Geology Regional Geologic Map Series, Map No. 7A, scale 1:250,000.

  • Deposit

    Schweickert, R.A., Hanson, R.E., and Girty, G.H., 1999, Accretionary tectonics of the Western Sierra Nevada Metamorphic Belt, in Wagner, D.L. and Graham, S.A., editors, Geologic field trips in northern California: California Division of Mines and Geology Special Publication 119, p. 33-79.

  • Deposit

    Tuminas, A., 1983, Structural and stratigraphic relations in the Grass Valley-Colfax area of the northern Sierra Nevada, California: Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Davis, 415 p.

General comments

Subject category Comment text
Deposit The Merrifield and Ural veins together with the Wyoming and other minor veins, comprise one of the most important gold-bearing quartz-vein systems of the Nevada City District. These are described in some detail by Lindgren (1896b). General characteristics of the veins of the district are also described by Johnston (1938). The Champion-Providence Group of mines exploits the above mentioned vein system where it is associated with the contact zone between the southernmost part of a large body of Jurassic granodiorite and older metamorphic rocks of the Lake Combie Complex. The Merrifield Vein has a strike of N0-20W and an average dip of 35NE, ranging from 29NE to 45NE. Lindgren (1896b) believed the Merrifield Vein to be at least 4 miles long; MacBoyle (1919) reported it to be at least 11,000 feet long. This vein is also notable for the extent of crushed wallrock adjacent to the vein. In places, the crushed material is 30 feet wide. Some of this material is replaced by calcite and pyrite that carried gold at a grade of up to $2-3/ton in the 1800?s. The quartz veins in this crushed zone range from one to 10 feet in width. The ore is milky white quartz with an average of 6% sulfides composed of pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, sphalerite, and minor arsenopyrite. The Ural Vein is parallel to and about 500 feet west of the Merrifield Vein. Similar to the Merrifield, it follows the contact between the metamorphic rock and granodiorite, and has an average dip of 35NE. Near the Providence and Champion main shafts, the vein assumes a peculiar westerly strike, which may have been caused by faulting. The vein averages about 2-3 feet in width. In one place, the wallrock of the vein consists of decomposed diabase. Locally, gold-bearing stringers with good ore are present in the footwall. Sulfides range from 5-8% and consist of pyrite, chalcopyrite, galena, and sphalerite. A telluride of silver and lead (altaite) and some molybdenite were also reported. One segment of the Ural Vein, known at one time as the New Year?s Vein in the Champion Mine, contained 50-90 percent sulfides in places. The Merrifield and Ural veins at the Champion and Providence mines are notable for their high silver content.
Environment The deposit is in the steep forested canyon of Deer Creek just west of the city limits of Nevada City. There is some residential-commercial development in the immediate area. There is little remaining evidence of the surface operations at these mines.

Reporter information

Type Date Name Affiliation Comment
Reporter 20-DEC-2007 Higgins, Chris T. California Geological Survey CGS (Formerly CDMG)
Editor 20-FEB-2008 Schruben, Paul G. U.S. Geological Survey Converted from S&A FileMaker format to Oracle. Edit checks on rocks, units, and ages with Geolex search, and other fields.