Agnico Eagle Begins Construction at Amaruq
Preliminary construction work and stripping of the Whale Tail pit is under way, and development remains on schedule and budget for production to start in the third quarter of 2019, coinciding with the end of production at the Meadowbank mine. The Whale Tail pit will supply ore to the existing Meadowbank mill, pending receipt of the required permits. Gold production in 2020 is forecast to be in the range of 260,000 ounces (oz) to 270,000 oz.
As of year-end 2017, the Amaruq project had an estimated initial open-pit mineral reserve of 2.4 million oz of gold in 20.1 million metric tons (mt) grading 3.67 grams/mt. Open-pit and underground indicated mineral resources totaled 1 million oz in 8.8 million mt grading 3.62 g/mt, and open-pit and underground inferred mineral resources totaled 1.7 million oz in 8.7 million mt grading 6.25 g/mt.
A conventional open-pit mining operation is being developed on the Whale Tail deposit. Initial planning calls for production of approximately 2.1 million oz of gold between 2019 and 2024. Satellite deposits such as the V Zone are expected to be included in the mine plan pending receipt of additional permitting.
The Amaruq mining operation will utilize the existing infrastructure at the Meadowbank mine, including mining equipment, mill, tailings facility, camp, and airstrip. Additional infrastructure will be built at the Amaruq site, including a truck shop/warehouse, fuel storage and a larger camp facility.
In addition, a new truck fleet will be required for hauling ore to the Meadowbank mill. The mill is planned to operate at a feed rate of 9,000 mt/d and will require minor modifications, specifically the addition of a continuous gravity and regrind circuit. Initial and sustaining capital costs at the Amaruq project are estimated at about $330 million and $25 million per year, respectively. Expenditures in 2018 are forecast at approximately $175 million.
Exploration continues at depth in both the Whale Tail deposit and V Zone, as well as conversion drilling of underground mineral resources at Whale Tail closer to the planned pit bottom. The first round of an underground exploration ramp was blasted in early January, and by June 30, the ramp had advanced 478 m to 60 m vertical depth at a cost of approximately $10.7 million. The main purpose of the ramp is to allow additional exploration drilling and to evaluate the potential for underground mining at both the Whale Tail and V zones.
A total of 67,000 m of exploration drilling is planned for 2018. The Whale Tail deposit has been defined over at least 2.3 km of strike length and extends from surface to 915 m depth. Exploration continues at depth, with the aim of extending the limits of the deeper mineral resources.
In the shallower parts of the underground mineral resources, closer to the planned pit bottom, infill drilling is being conducted from surface. The objective is to improve the understanding of the geometry and limits of the main Whale Tail ore shoot.