Gold exploration in Nunavut gets a boost

Toronto and New York-listed gold producer Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited (AEM) has received permission from the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) to move ahead with an all-weather access road to its Meliadine exploration gold project.

In a stament, the Canadian-based explorer said that it will now proceed to the next step of permitting for the construction of a 24 km, all-weather access road from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut to Meliadine.

“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. We hope to begin construction later in March,” said Sean Boyd, Agnico-Eagle’s president and chief executive officer.

The NIBR’s resolution came only three weeks after Newmont Mining Corp. announced it would walk away from its Hope Bay gold mine project near Nunavut’s Cambridge Bay, which it may imply at losses of least $6 million a year in contracts for local business, reports Nunatsiaq Online.

The company informed that work is already underway 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 necessitate the installation of 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.

Agnico-Eagle’s resource estimates for Meliadine show the project already contains twice as much gold as Meadowbank.

The company expects production to start there in 2017.