O'Brien Strikes Gold
During the final semester of his senior year, geology major Desmond “Tex” O’Brien found the ideal way to impress his future employer: he discovered a heavily mineralized surface vein of lead, copper and zinc ore on the Treaty Creek Property—land owned by American Creek Resources Ltd., a Canadian precious- and base-metals mining company based in Raymond, Alberta. The three metals are valuable in their own right, but the type of vein he discovered—near the British Columbia border with Hyder, Alaska—is also associated with higher concentrations of silver and gold.
“Geologists believe the surrounding area may hold the largest undeveloped gold deposit in the world,” says O’Brien of the region where he made the discovery.
What’s even more remarkable is how—and when—O’Brien made the discovery. He spent the summer before his senior year working for American Creek Resources as manager of the Treaty Creek Property drilling camp—a job that involved overseeing the drillers, geologists, cooks and maintenance crew as well as “reading the rock” to decide where to conduct exploratory drilling. To put the pressure in perspective, consider this: at $100 per meter, just one of the many drillings O’Brien ordered on the Treaty Creek Property cost $30,000.
“Basically, I thought to myself, ‘I gotta be finding some gold!’” he says. “You have some core samples to consider that can guide decisions, but a lot of it is following your instincts. You can’t be cavalier.”
With snow on the way near the North Treaty Glacier, O’Brien returned to UMF at the end of the summer to finish his last semester. Two weeks later, American Creek Resources called to ask that he join a small party of investors touring the Treaty Creek Property on a Saturday in September.
As drilling camp manager, O’Brien was only expected to explain the site’s potential—which he did quite well. Just as the crew was about to board the helicopter for the 30-minuite flight back to Cassiar Highway 37, O’Brien paused to examine a boulder. With clearly delineated mineral striations, it bore the tell-tale signs that a mother lode of gold might be in the offing.
“The investors got pretty excited,” he recalls. “The company loved my work in the field. I got a job offer and a nice signing bonus.”
And what became of the rock?
“They mailed it to me as a Christmas present,” says a beaming O’Brien, who returned to the Treaty Creek Property as a full-time employee of American Creek Resources after graduating from UMF.