Carl Schulze tickles the faux ivory of a keyboard at the Yukon Geoscience Forum, greeting some passersby and never losing a beat.
He prides himself on his playing. But that’s not his claim to fame — at least not to the same degree.
The Yukon Prospectors’ Association named Schulze Prospector of the Year on Nov. 18. The geologist, who pairs that with exploration work, said getting good is akin to anything you practise — struggle, fail, pick yourself up, like honing your chops at an instrument.
“Musicians get better and better at listening to someone else’s music and being able to figure out the progressions and the chording and voicing,” he said.
Schulze has a storied career. He’s found more than 100 occurrences — rock that could hold precious metals — during roughly 30 years. Of that number, he said he’s unearthed nine or 10 “significant discoveries” of gold or gold-silver.
A significant discovery, to Schulze, is one that leads to the development of a producing mine. It’s very rare when this happens, he said.
“There’s lots of occurrences. A good prospector will go out on the land and find occurrences regularly. But to actually get one that’s mineralized, that’s really rare, one-tenth maybe,” he said.
The trick is learning to read the ground. Having a trained eye means you can pick out alterations in the earth that some may otherwise overlook, he said.
“You need to have a lot of ground and to try over and over again in order to make some discoveries. The more you do it, the better you get at spotting alteration in the rock or structural setting, where, you know, you’ve got a change, we’re getting into a system that might just be worth looking at.”
He said most samples come back busts — until they don’t.
Schulze’s first discovery was in northern Ontario. It was the best find of his career, he said.
“I found something called the sugar vein towards the end of 1990. There was visible gold in it. I banged open a rock and it was full of gold, and I just went berserk, just the way I felt about it. The thrill was unparalleled.”
There’s now a producing mine there, having turned into a full-bore operation last year (Harte Gold Corp. is running it.)
He said it’s the first new gold mine to open in Ontario in 10 years. It’s expected to eventually produce more than one million ounces of gold.
After living in Thunder Bay, he packed into a truck and headed to the Yukon, arriving in 1992. He’s been here since, aside from a short spell in Nunavut. Schulze has also found veins in British Columbia and has worked in the Northwest Territories.
Two discoveries in the Yukon spurred the Golden Culvert and 3 Aces properties, which currently produce. He’s had finds in the Dawson range, too.
Asked for the appeal of his work he said, “It’s like a drug addict, why people keep coming back to do cocaine, which I do not do. They’re trying to experience it again, and it’s just plain fun.”
Schulze said it’s his “crowning glory” that he’s been deemed Prospector of the Year.
“I guess we’re all a bit vain, “ he said, noting, however, that credit is sometimes due in these instances.
“The award is important because prospecting leads to discoveries and if discoveries actually lead to a producing mine it creates wealth,” he said. “You know, people always say it’s for the greedy shareholders. Well, shareholders make money and so do CEOs, of course they do, but also so do many other people. I mean, we get the tax revenue, income. The economics, for sure, because you’re injecting wealth into a system where none existed.
“If you’ve got a healthy economy, people are generally happier.”
Contact Julien Gignac at email@example.com