Mineral exploration began in the Thompson Nicola region in the 1880s with the discovery of copper, gold and iron mineralization at the Iron Mask Mine near Kamloops. During this time, several claims were also staked around the Ajax property, with placer miners surveying the area during the early years of the Gold Rush in British Columbia.
Underground exploration began on the Ajax claim in 1906 and continued until 1914 when exploration in the area became sporadic during the First World War. In 1928, the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada completed several surface drilling programs on the Ajax property.
The original Afton copper deposit was found by Chester F. Millar in the mid-1960s and was operated as the Afton Mine following Teck's acquisition of Millar's company. Teck operated the Afton mine -- including two satellite pits, Crescent and Pothook -- and the East and West Ajax pits intermittently from 1987 until 1997. During the periods of production, it is estimated that 17 Mt were mined and 13 Mt were milled.
Abacus acquired holdings in the Ajax area in 2002 from Teck and explored the Ajax property with diamond drill hole (DDH) methods from 2005 to 2010.