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Whale Tail pit north of Baker Lake a go

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd received federal ministerial approval July 11 for a Type A water licence, which allows the company to move ahead with the construction and development of the Whale Tail pit at its Amaruq project.

photo courtesy Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.
Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. received federal ministerial approval from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs July 11 for its Whale Tail pit, to be located below the camp and road systems after dikes are built and dewatering takes place, at the Amaruq project, seen here in June.

"Preliminary construction work and stripping of the Whale Tail pit will begin in the third quarter of 2018 as expected," stated the company in a news release.

Amaruq is approximately 50 km northwest of Meadowbank, Agnico's first gold mine in the Kivalliq. Meadowbank is 110 km by road north of Baker Lake.

"We would like to thank the various regulatory agencies, both federal and territorial, the Inuit organizations, the local communities and our employees for their diligent participation in the permitting process," stated Agnico's chief executive officer Sean Boyd.

"With the approval of the Whale Tail Type A licence, the project remains on schedule to commence production in the third quarter of 2019, and exploration activities continue to expand the known mineralization, which could potentially extend the mine life."

In August 2016, company officials indicated the regulatory process would take two years. The objective was to narrow the time gap between mining at the three existing pits at Meadowbank  and mining at Whale Tail to avoid impact on employment and revenue.

"The schedule for construction activities, including Whale Tail Lake dewatering, is expected to allow for progressive mining and stockpiling of ore in the second quarter of 2019 to support the expected start of production in the third quarter of 2019, which will coincide with the end of production at the Meadowbank mine in 2019," according to the release.

Agnico plans on starting construction of the Whale Tail dike in late July.

The Amaruq project is also on budget, with capital expenditures in 2018 forecast to be approximately $175 million, according to the release. By the end of June, roughly 478 metres of the underground exploration ramp was completed, at a cost of approximately $10.7 million. The company foresees developing a total of 1.2 km of ramp development in 2018.

"Elsewhere in Nunavut, development activities at Meliadine are progressing on schedule and on budget, which continues to support the start of production in the second quarter of 2019," stated Boyd.

The Meliadine project is 25 km outside Rankin Inlet.

The first boat of the 2018 shipping season has been off-loaded at Rankin Inlet, and additional boats are expected in the coming weeks, according to the release.