Agnico Eagle Mines has completed an updated NI 43-101 technical report on its Meliadine gold project in Nunavut, Canada, near the western shore of Hudson Bay, 290 km southeast of the company’s Meadowbank mine. The company also has reported plans for an extensive 2015 exploration drilling program at its Amaruq project, approximately 50 km northwest of the Meadowbank mine.
The updated Meliadine technical report is based on the project’s proven and probable reserves of 3.3 million oz of gold in 13.9 million mt grading 7.44 g/mt. Not considered are an additional 3.3 million oz in measured and indicated resources and 3.5 million oz in inferred resources. Agnico Eagle anticipates that a significant amount of these resources will eventually be converted to reserves and be considered in future development plans.
The updated technical report outlines a phased development approach for Meliadine, with mill feed averaging 3,000 mt/d in years one to three and 5,000 mt/d in years four to nine of a nine-year mine life. Ore will be mined from underground throughout the mine life and from two open-pit operations in years four to seven. The current mine plan is focused on the Tiriganiaq and nearby Wesmeg mineralized zones, both of which will be accessed from Tiriganiaq underground infrastructure.
Metallurgical recoveries are estimated to average approximately 96%, resulting in average gold production of approximately 326,000 oz/y in years one to three and 362,000 oz/y in years four to nine.
Initial capital costs to develop Meliadine are estimated at approximately $911 million, and sustaining capital costs are forecast at approximately $357 million.
Exploration has demonstrated excellent potential for the Meliadine property to host even larger reserves and resources. All deposits are open at depth, and many other regional targets have been identified. Additional exploration and conversion drilling from surface and the exploration ramp is planned to test this potential.
Agnico Eagle has budgeted approximately $64 million for capital expenditures at Meliadine in 2015. Of this total, approximately $21 million will be allocated to 2,500 m of planned underground development, which will allow cost-effective exploration and conversion drilling of the deeper parts of the Tiriganiaq and Wesmeg/Normeg zones and help to optimize mining plans. A portion of the 2015 budget is also allocated to camp operation, construction activities, permitting and technical services.
The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) has issued a project certificate that enables Agnico Eagle to apply for the various operating permits, licenses, and authorizations required to start construction and operation of a gold mine at Meliadine.
Also in Nunavut, Agnico Eagle is planning an extensive 2015 exploration drilling program at its Amaruq project. The first phase of the program is planned at about 50,000 m of drilling at a cost of approximately $20 million. The company expects to have up to eight drills in operation by the end of April 2015.
The Amaruq project has an initial inferred mineral resource of 1.5 million oz of gold in 6.6 million mt at a grade of 7.07 g/mt. A resource update is expected in the second half of 2015.