Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine set to start commercial production

Inuit orgs could rake in nearly half a billion from Agnico Eagle’s Kivalliq operations

Underground exploratory activities at the Meliadine site in 2014. Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. says commercial production of gold will start there this month. (Photo courtesy Agnico Eagle)

By Jim Bell

Following the pouring of its first bar of gold last February, the Meliadine gold mine near Rankin Inlet will start commercial production this month, Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. said last week in its financial statements for the first quarter of 2019.

The processing plant at Meliadine has already produced 17,582 “pre-commercial” ounces of gold. And by the end of this year, AEM hopes to produce about 230,000 ounces, the company said.

The long-awaited Meliadine mine, which cost more than $900 million in capital expenditures, is expected to require about 900 employees, at least 350 of whom will be Inuit.

“Three underground mining areas are now in operation, with operations in a fourth area expected to commence in the second quarter of 2019,” the company said.

At the same time, the company will move ahead later this year on commercial production at its Amaruq–Whale Tail property, a satellite operation.

“With commercial production expected shortly at Meliadine, and Amaruq on schedule for start-up in the third quarter of 2019, we anticipate higher gold production to result in increased earnings and cash flow in the second half of the year,” the company’s CEO, Sean Boyd, said in a news release.

As mining winds down at Meadowbank, ore from the Amaruq project will let the company continue with its existing mill at Meadowbank, near Baker Lake, until at least 2026.

The first area of the Amaruq site to be developed is called the Whale Tail project.

There, the company received a project certificate this past March from the Nunavut Impact Review Board for an open-pit operation at Whale Tail, which is about 150 kilometres north of Baker Lake, and about 50 kilometres northwest of the company’s existing Meadowbank gold mine.

Ore would be trucked from Whale Tail along a 65-kilometre private haul road, at a rate of 9,000 to 12,000 tonnes per day, to the Meadowbank mine site.

Some 8.2 million tonnes of tailings waste would be stored at Meadowbank’s existing tailings facility.

At the same time they’re looking at an underground operation at Amaruq, which could run concurrently with the open-pit work, the company said.

Big money for Inuit orgs

Taken together, the Meliadine and Amaruq projects promise to produce big piles of cash for the Kivalliq Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

In 2017, the company paid $51 million—$10.5 million to the KivIA and $41 million to NTI, Agnico Eagle told the Senate Arctic committee last fall

And over the next 15 years, the company expects to pay a whopping $450 million in royalties and fees to KIA and NTI.

As for the Government of Nunavut, they’ll get an estimated $2.9 million in property taxes, the company told the Senate last year.

This graphic is part of a package of information that Agnico Eagle shared with the Senate Arctic committee last fall. The company estimates that over the next 15 years, they’ll pay nearly half a billion dollars in royalties and fees to the Kivalliq Inuit Association and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (Agnico Eagle Powerpoint slide)

The company also estimates its operations will generate about $66 million in annual salaries for people living in the Kivalliq region.

The company’s total operations in the Kivalliq will require about 2,000 employees, of whom about 700 will be Inuit and about 500 will be employees of contractors, the company said.

The precise rate of Inuit employment at Meliadine is not yet available, though Agnico Eagle’s Inuit impact and benefit agreement with the KivIA sets an eventual target of 50 per cent.

The company has also built its own transportation infrastructure, including about 200 kilometres’ worth of roads. That includes a 65-kilometre road from the Meadowbank site to Amaruq.

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by MINER on

    Its going to be amazing , if they get 350 inuks working at this mine all at once, having said that , arn t the other mines in Nunavuit hiving trouble retaining inuk workers

  2. Posted by justin merritt on

    royalties for NTI KIA are well deserved as they are giving up non renewable resources, as for the GN , THEY ARE COLLECTING PROPERTY TAXES ON LAND THEY PUT NO SERVICES INTO , The Municipalities of Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet are the ones getting 0 funds although the mines are creating huge impacts on Municipalities , Our roads, dust control , local wharfs , shortage of housing , not caused by miners but by sub contractors bringing in employees to service the mine, Municipalities should have been considered in the IIBA agreements or some other form of compensation , possibly the land taxes the GN collects ,

  3. Posted by Tommy on

    Collectively, NTI and its’ subsidiaries have been advocating themself more than they have been trying to advocate to the people they suppose to serve. The huge conglomerates using valuable resources for their O&M. Sure, they fight for Inuit entitlement. But spending expenditures without fiscal responsibility is absurd. The loaned resources from the Nunavut Trust are spent as previledged budgets, to appease the provider more than the provided. Personally, NTI can help me through their programs, that’s about it. Programs that, for me, have absolutely no applications to me, for me whatsoever. One thing I got was a status number, again.

  4. Posted by Dominic kukiaut Irksuk on

    i was working underground, in sept, 2018, i had whimis & fall protection certificates, from morris burg, ont, & sackatoon, sask. but i don’t know why they ask me to do them again, so i stopped working, i like it working underground, cause my dad was a minor in rankin inlet nickel mine 1957-62. it was very fun, but stupid office old man told me, i’m not unsaft, it was a lie, i knew coral harbour peoples lied, & only them working, thats no good, i never report, & too many southerners only, 1 woman even did not like me, i know she was taking small , like gold & takes it home, she even show it to class without no 1 knows, thats too bad, & only womens working i don’t know why, intructer in class was going to teach me in rankin inlet, but i had too many calls from HR, then i just did not wants to go back, underground at meliadine mine should change, that they hate inuits for no reasons, they only wants womans or coral harbour peoples, only. i was so happy, but just broke my heart, if the office workers will be there only them, i know it will shut down early, 3 HR & 1 woman really needs me to work there, & i like those who trys to let me be there, they even haved my resume, & name kiyle lobroski trys to help me, & looks like want to keep me working, but other office workers needs womans i feel that way, & just not return. i haved been working in ferguson lake mine before, i hope to train like excavator & back-hoe some days, they say in april 2019 they will haved it, but they never even told me. i’m 56 years old, & like to work again in some mines. i hope to hear from you soon. Dominic Kukiyaut Irksuk.

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