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Agnico Eagle shares drop as covid-19 cases rise in Nunavut

Advancing the underground ramp at the Whale Tail deposit in Nunavut. Credit: Agnico Eagle Mines.

Canadian gold miner Agnico Eagle (TSE: AEM) announced an update linked to the hike in covid-19 cases at its Nunavut operations.

There have been a total of 13 tentative cases at its Meliadine, Meadowbank and Hope Bay operations reported since December 18, and the company decided to send home the Nunavut-based workforce.

Due to the reduction, the company expects production to be minimal over this period. It is also reassessing current protocols in preparation for a resumption of activities expected in early 2022.

All Nunavummiut workers, presently on-site, will be sent home and those that are currently off-site will not return to work at this time for a period of at least three weeks, the company said.

Shares of Agnico Eagle have declined 25.4% in 2021 compared with a 13.3% average fall in the industry.

Last year, miners working in remote locations in Canada, including Agnico, sent home Indigenous workers and limited contact between fly-in workers and communities to minimize the risk of spreading covid-19. The highly transmissible omicron variant of the virus now threatens a wave of new disruptions, even after the roll-out of vaccines and vaccine mandates this year. 

Nunavut is extending its “circuit-breaker” lockdown as a rise in covid-19 cases pushes the territory’s healthcare system to a breaking point.

The territory’s chief public health officer, Dr. Michael Patterson, said Wednesday the province has 74 cases in eight communities after counting zero cases on December 21.