TMAC still beavering away at Kitikmeot’s Hope Bay project

Company increases resource estimate, plans pre-feasibility study on western Nunavut gold project


An aerial view of the Hope Bay gold project. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TMAC)

An aerial view of the Hope Bay gold project. (PHOTO COURTESY OF TMAC)

The privately-held TMAC Resources Inc. still believes they can one day turn the on-again, off-again Hope Bay gold project into a viable commercial mining operation, the company suggested Jan. 26, in a news release.

TMAC said exploration work done last year has led to a big increase in its measured and indicated resource estimate for Hope Bay — it’s now up to 4.4 million oz. of gold.

(An “indicated” resource estimate means a number that is reached with a fairly high degree of confidence. A “measured” resource estimate means an even higher degree of confidence, and that a qualified expert has signed off on it.)

Also, the company upped its “inferred” resource estimate — which means a lower level of confidence — for Hope Bay to 1.3 million oz. of gold.

They also raised $44.1 million, through a private sale of shares, to help pay for activities planned in 2015, the company said.

All this suggests the highly-touted, high-grade Doris North portion of the site may now contain a resource that’s rich enough to support a life-span longer than its previously estimated two years, the news release said.

TMAC also says Hope Bay could now become a “multi-generational” project.

The Hope Bay project, however, has been hyped for nearly 20 years and no working mine has yet to emerge.

Companies have explored, drilled and built infrastructure at Hope Bay since 1988, sinking at least $2.1 billion into the project.

But after a couple of false starts, no one has figured out how to turn the 85-kilometre Hope Bay gold belt into a mining operation that makes money.

Miramar Mining Corp. acquired the site from BHP in 1999, and developed a plan to start a small mine at Doris North, where they hoped revenues could finance the development of the rest of Hope Bay’s gold deposits.

Newmont Mining Corp., a global giant based in the United States, acquired Hope Bay from Miramar in 2007.

Newmont spent a bundle on the project, building an underground ramp at Doris North and putting in airstrips, fuel storage facilities, camps and most of a processing plant.

And by December 2011, Newmont had filed licence and permit applications with the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Water Board.

But all that came to screeching halt in January 2012, when Newmont put the project into the mothballs and hung up a for sale sign.

That’s because, a Newmont official said in February 2012, “ there is no solid business case” for a mining operation at Hope Bay.

The ensuing downturn killed about 150 jobs in the Kitikmeot region.

By December 2012, Newmont struck a deal to sell the property to TMAC — but Newmont also remains as a big shareholder in the new, private firm.

But despite its hopeful rhetoric, TMAC is still a long way from proving they can build a viable mine.

By the end of March, the company hopes to complete a pre-feasibility company that could help them being to prove the site’s commercial viability.

“I look forward to the TMAC exploration team … to continue to use their unique and successful exploration approach in 2015 and for many years to come at the Hope Bay property,” TMAC’s executive chairman, Terry MacGibbon, said in a news release.

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