Agnico operating permit restored for Kittila mine in Finland

Aerial view of Kittila mine. Credit: Agnico Eagle

Canadian gold miner Agnico Eagle (NYSE: AEM) (TSX: AEM) confirmed on Friday that its operating permit for the Kittila mine in Finland remains valid despite appeals for reconsideration, and, as a result, the company now expects to reach the upper end of its annual guidance.

According to a ruling passed down by the Supreme Administrative Court of Finland (SAC), Agnico’s operating permit has been restored to 2 million tonnes per annum, which the company has been operating at for the first nine months of 2023.

Maintaining at this annualized mining rate would result in 30,000 oz. of additional production from the Kittila mine in the fourth quarter of 2023, Agnico said.

“We are now expecting to be near the upper end of our total annual production guidance of between 3.24 million ounces to 3.44 million ounces of gold in 2023,” CEO Ammar Al-Joundi stated in a press release.

This ruling, said Al-Joundi, is consistent with the the company’s “excellent environmental performance” at Kittila, where the operation is “well below the environmental emission limits.”

In 2020, the Regional State Administrative Agency of Northern Finland granted Agnico the environmental and water permits that would allow the company to enlarge the CIL2 tailings storage facility, expand the operations of Kittila to 2 mtpa and build a new discharge waterline.

However, these permits were subsequently appealed to the Vaasa Administrative Court in Finland. The appeals were granted, in part, in July 2022, with the result that the permits were returned for reconsideration by the agency.

In August 2022, the company appealed the decisions of the Vaasa Court to the SAC and requested that the SAC restore the permits. No further appeals are available.

Located in the Lapland region of northern Finland, Kittila is the largest primary gold producer in Europe. The underground mine achieved commercial production on May 1, 2009, becoming Agnico’s first mine outside of Canada.