Western Nunavut gold producer TMAC reduces operations at Hope Bay
“If the risk of COVID-19 continues, TMAC will execute a controlled transition into temporary care and maintenance”
TMAC Resources Inc. says it has decided to scale down its operations at the Hope Bay gold mine and reduce its workforce as its “best course of action.”
“If the risk of COVID-19 continues, TMAC will execute a controlled transition into temporary care and maintenance,” states a news release on Monday, March 30.
During any care and maintenance period, on-site personnel would be limited to critical activities necessary to maintain the site until normal operations could resume, the release said.
Last week, Alex Buchan, the company’s vice-president for corporate social responsibility, said its Hope Bay gold mine would continue operations “at present,” under the mining company’s infectious disease control protocol.
But now TMAC says it will suspend exploration activities at Hope Bay and underground development activity at the Madrid North and the Naartok East area.
It will also suspend underground development at Doris and would focus on producing gold at developed underground areas and bringing ore to the surface.
The plan now is to run the processing plant for eight to 10 weeks with material from its stockpiles and limited mine production, “but there may be opportunities to extend this further,” the company said.
TMAC had already sent its Nunavut-based workers home. Now it has reduced the number of employees and contractors on the site to about 120, in a camp that accommodates roughly 345 people.
The company would reduce this number further to about 30 people should operations be suspended completely, TMAC said.
Today, TMAC also released details of its pre-feasibility plan, which calls for capital expenditures for 2020 to 2023 of $683 million, including $184 million for a new conventional processing plant.
TMAC gave some additional insight into its future plans, saying, “Ultimately it is more likely that the feasibility study and eventual expansion at Hope Bay will be pursued either with a new partner or a new owner of Hope Bay than by TMAC as a standalone single-asset company.”
In January, TMAC launched a process that could see the company put itself up for sale.
COVID-19 has proven challenging for other mines in Nunavut and Nunavik, which sent their local employees home earlier.
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. decided to move its Meliadine gold mine into a “lockdown” mode until April 27 and reduced activities at its Meadowbank-Amaruq complex.
Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. has also reduced production due to measures to fight COVID-19.
And Nunavik’s Raglan mine has gone into care and maintenance following Quebec’s order for all non-essential businesses to shut down.