Canada’s Arctic territory Nunavut has delayed public hearings about a key water disposal project at Agnico Eagles’ Meliadine gold mine, a company executive told Reuters, as the region grapples with a new wave of coronavirus infections.
The mineral-rich territory extended a public health emergency to May 13 on Thursday after the number of active covid-19 cases hit 50, with Canada battling the third wave of infections largely driven by new variants.
Toronto-based Agnico is seeking approval to pipe excess groundwater from the mine into the Arctic Ocean and increase contaminants it can legally dispose of in a nearby lake.
Public hearings set for May 17-20 in Rankin Inlet have been indefinitely postponed, senior vice-president of operations for Canada and Europe Dominique Girard said on an analyst call.
There will be no operational impact due to lower-than-expected inflows of groundwater at the mine, Girard said.
Agnico acquired Meliadine in July 2010 and owns 100% of the 111,358-hectare property, located near Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.
The delay comes a day after Newmont said it had paused operations at its Musselwhite mine in Ontario province to limit the virus spread.
Agnico in January agreed to buy struggling TMAC Resources, increasing its sizeable presence in Nunavut, where it also operates the Meadowbank gold complex.
The miner said 219 employees, mostly in Mexico, tested positive for covid-19 in the first quarter.
Agnico reported on Thursday a quarterly net income of $136.1 million, or net income of $0.56 per share, for the first quarter of 2021, compared to a net loss of $21.6 million, or $0.09 per share, in Q1 2020.
According to the company, better than forecast performance at LaRonde, Kittila, Meliadine and Meadowbank in March resulted in record payable gold production in the first quarter of 504,545 ounces.
Expected gold production in 2021 was maintained at approximately 2,047,500 ounces, while total cash costs per ounce and all-in sustaining costs per ounce continue to be forecast in the range of $700 to $750 and $950 to $1,000, respectively.
(With files from Reuters)