Newmont puts the brakes on Hope Bay project

Uncertainty clouds development of Kitikmeot gold field


A worker prepares to drill in the underground mine shaft at the Doris North mine. (FILE PHOTO)

A worker prepares to drill in the underground mine shaft at the Doris North mine. (FILE PHOTO)

The Newmont Mining Corp. will put its Hope Bay gold project in the Kitikmeot region into limbo pending a review aimed at figuring out how and when they will continue developing the site, the company said Jan. 31 in a statement.

To that end, the company has approved “care and maintenance” funding for Hope Bay, the statement said.

But at the same time, all “development and surface exploration activities” are postponed pending the review.

And Newmont’s website says Hope Bay is not included in the company’s capital spending plans for 2012 or a 2017 strategic growth plan.

This past Dec. 15, a fire at the Doris North section of the Hope Bay site destroyed an emergency services building, an ambulance and a fire truck, leading to at least $500,000 in damages.

The Doris North mine is the smallest but most advanced section of Hope Bay.

About a week prior to the fire, on Dec. 7, company had filed licence and permit applications with the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Water Board for a big expansion of the Hope Bay project.

The NIRB has started screening the application and is expected to order a Part 5 environmental review.

Under Phase 2 of the Hope Bay scheme, the company proposed to mine two areas to the south of Doris North called Madrid and Boston.

This plan would have required 900 workers during construction and 540 workers for mineral production activities. Another 180 workers would be employed in exploration.

But the company now suggests it may give priority to other projects within its global collection of mining properties and continue “to evaluate project development options.”

They also now describe Hope Bay as having “long-term” potential — but they will now compare it with other projects that have “near-term” potential.

Newmont owns or controls gold properties in Ghana, Peru, Indonesia, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. state of Nevada.

They estimate the Hope Bay property contains at least nine million ounces of gold.

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