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Feb 16, 2017

Agnico Eagle makes multi-decade bet on Nunavut

Agnico Eagle making multi-decade bet on Nunavut

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Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM.TO) is making a big bet on a pair of Nunavut projects, an endeavour Chief Executive Officer Sean Boyd said could lead to a multi-decade presence in Canada’s least-populated territory. In an interview on BNN, Boyd said the miner sees enormous potential in the Meliadine mine on the Rankin Inlet and the Amaruq satellite project near the company’s existing Meadowlake facility.

“Clearly, it’s a place you can do business: there’s tremendous mineral potential [in Nunavut,]” he said Thursday. “Both of these deposits are wide open, so we expect them to grow.”

Agnico Eagle sees the pair of projects contributing to a 450,000-ounce increase in production in 2020, when the company forecasts it will produce two million ounces of gold. Boyd said the jurisdiction is friendly to business investment, and bears similarities geologically to the company’s traditional stomping ground.

“Nunavut has a lot of similarities to Quebec, and we’ve been in Quebec for over forty years: we can see ourselves in Nunavut for [multiple] decades,” he said.

Boyd said one of the primary challenges for mine development in the north is a lack of existing infrastructure, but noted his company is working to address that by building out road networks.

“[Nunavut’s] infrastructure challenged, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “I think the model there going forward will be centralized processing facilities with satellite deposits. At Meliadine, which is near the Rankin Inlet, we’ve built our own road.”

Boyd said the company is relying on mining expertise brought in from Quebec, but is employing local workers on the new projects when possible.

“You have to do a lot of training: at our current Meadowbank operation, about 37 per cent of the work force is Inuit, so we do significant training there,” he said. “Skilled labour, we still source from Quebec. We have a regional support base, which is key to success in Nunavut.”