MINING NEWS: Wolfden pursues its Arctic ambitions
Company advances Izok and High Lake copper-zinc projects in Inuit territory of Nunavut, receiving permits and submitting proposal
For Mining News
Ontario-based Wolfden Resources rounded off 2006 by making progress in Nunavut — it received a land use permit and water use license for the Izok project, and submitted a Comprehensive Proposal for the High Lake project to federal and territorial regulators, including the Nunavut Impact Review Board or NIRB. Izok and High Lake are both copper-zinc projects. The permits for Izok will allow Wolfden to complete the construction of a new camp and to begin exploration work.
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“Filing of the project proposal with NIRB is the next step in the permitting process for the proposed High Lake mine, bringing the company one step closer to its goal to become a base metal producer at High Lake,” said Ewan Downie, Wolfden’s president and CEO. “We have worked hard during the preparation of this landmark document to ensure we have made our best efforts to adequately assess the impacts of the project. We look forward to working closely with NIRB and the various stakeholders in the coming review,” he added.
Open pit and underground methods will be used at High Lake, according to the project proposal. The mine will be serviced by a 30-mile winter road during construction and a 33-mile all-season road during operations, which will connect the mine site with a dock facility to be built at Grays Bay on Nunavut’s northern Coronation Gulf coast. The dock will be used to bring in equipment and supplies and ship out ore concentrate. The project is located in the Canadian Arctic, in a zone of continuous permafrost with 1-2 meters of surface thawing each summer.
Mine life of 14 years expectedHigh Lake is expected to have a mine life of about 14 years, with construction scheduled to start in 2008 and operations to begin in 2010. The peak number of personnel during construction is estimated at 440, with around 335 during operations. Indicated resources at High Lake amount to 14.3 million metric tons grading 2.34 percent copper, 3.53 percent zinc, 1.01 g/t gold and 75.69 g/t silver. The inferred resource is 1.3 million tons grading 1.17 percent copper, 3.35 percent zinc, 0.78 g/t gold and 764.52 g/t silver. Ongoing exploration and infill drilling continues to add tonnage and additional prospective targets.
The primary processing facility on-site will concentrate the ore using conventional flotation circuits to separate the zinc and copper from the other non-valuable minerals. Associated gold and silver will be separated after shipment off-site. Tailings will be deposited into an impoundment and covered with water to inhibit oxidation and prevent acid generation and metal leaching. To ensure that the tailings remain under water, four dams will be constructed along the lake’s perimeter, which will also prevent uncontrolled release into the Kennarctic River.
Wolfden will give preference to hiring qualified Inuit workers, the project proposal says. The company gathered traditional knowledge related to the High Lake project area with the help of local elders. “Wolfden acknowledges some archaeological sites will be disturbed and conducted field studies of archaeological sites in the project area,” a summary of the project proposal says. “Sites that were located include stone circles, caches, blinds, traps, inukshuks (landmarks) and stone tool scatter. Most sites can be avoided but at least six affected sites will require mitigation by data recovery. The remainder will be protected.”
In January Wolfden signed an Inuit Owned Lands Access Agreement for High Lake with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association and KIA granted licenses for the project’s camp, access road, airstrip and winter trail routes. “KIA supports development such as at the High Lake project so long as there is a balance between environment protection and benefits for both KIA and Wolfden,” said KIA President Donald Havioyak.
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