Agnico-Eagle Mines (AEM) recently received permission from the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) to proceed to the next step of permitting for the construction of a 24 km, all-weather access road from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to its Meliadine advanced exploration gold project.

“The NIRB decision is a major milestone in the development of the Meliadine project as this will allow us to move to year-round operations,” said Sean Boyd, president and CEO, AEM. “We hope to begin construction later in March.”

Work is already under way to obtain the remaining approvals prior to the start of construction: a Type B Water License from the Nunavut Water Board, land use permits from the Kivalliq Inuit Association, Government of Nunavut and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and navigable water crossing approvals from Transport Canada. Based on discussions with the various regulatory agencies, AEM anticipates that it will receive all of the required permits and authorizations to allow construction of this road to proceed over the next few weeks.

The all-weather access road, permitted as a pre-development activity, will be used to supply material (fuel, drilling supplies, food, etc.) and transport personnel to the Meliadine camp, allowing year-round exploration work at the site. Road construction will require three bridges, including one across the Meliadine River. Bridge installation is expected to be completed by late fall 2012 with road construction to be completed by April 2013. Cost of the all-weather access road is estimated to be $21 million.