Mining News: Northern Neighbors: Meadowbank goldoutput drops; heavy drilling at Amaruq
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. July 28 provided an update on its gold projects in Nunavut. The company’s Meadowbank Mine produced 144,713 ounces gold at total cash costs of US$789/oz. through the first half of 2016, compared with 179,799 oz. gold at US$672/oz. during the first six months of 2015. The lower production and higher costs are primarily due to lower mill throughput this year. Agnico is investigating opportunities to extend production at Meadowbank through year-end 2018. This extension would help to bridge the gap to the potential start of mining at Amaruq, a satellite project located about 50 kilometers (31 miles) northwest of the mine. At the end of 2015, Amaruq hosted 16.9 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 6.05 grams per metric ton (3.3 million oz.) gold. Agnico Eagle is in the midst of a roughly 125,000-meter drill program aimed at expanding and upgrading this resource. The initial phase of this drilling, which ran through June, totaled 77,517 meters in 338 holes. Almost half of this drilling was in the IVR deposit (36,545 meters, 152 holes), with 30 percent at Whale Tail (24,820 meters, 103 holes) and the rest at Mammoth (16,153 meters, 83 holes). The phase 1 drilling at the V zone and Whale Tail deposit will be incorporated into an updated resource estimate for Amaruq, slated for completion in the third quarter. The initial phase of 2016 drilling also included nine holes for geotechnical and metallurgical testing needed for engineering studies. A 50,000-meter second phase of drilling now underway is focused on readying Whale Tail for potential development as a satellite to the Meadowbank operation, gaining a better understanding of the geometry of the V zones, and determining if they could become a potential second source of open-pit ore for Amaruq. Roughly 13.3 kilometers (8.3 miles) of a 62-kilometer (38 miles) access road linking Amaruq to Meadowbank had been completed by the end of June. Agnico started the road in the first quarter and anticipates having it finished next year. The company, meanwhile, has applied for permits to develop an exploration ramp and potentially collect a bulk sample at Whale Tail. Also during the second quarter, roughly 1,098 meters of underground development was completed at the company’s Meliadine gold project, which is located about 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the town of Rankin Inlet, Nunavut. At the end of 2014, Agnico completed an updated technical report that outlines a mine for Meliadine that would average roughly 350,000 oz. /yr. gold based on extracting 1.39 million metric tons of proven and probable reserves averaging 7.44 g/t (3.3 million oz.) gold contained in the project’s Tiriganiaq and Wesmeg deposits. The Meliadine property hosts another 20.2 million metric tons of measured and indicated resources averaging 5.06 g/t (3.3 million oz.) gold; and 14.1 million metric tons of inferred resource averaging 7.65 g/t (3.5 million oz.) gold. Studies to evaluate the potential of extending the mine life, increase annual production and improve project economics at Meliadine are expected to be completed by the end of 2016.