The Meliadine gold mine on the land near Rankin Inlet took one large step towards starting commercial production when Agnico Eagle Mines (AEM) employees at Meliadine gathered around to celebrate the mine’s first pour of gold on the morning of Feb. 21.
The first pour marked the culmination of a journey that began more than 12 years ago and, today, is turning hopes for increased economic and social prosperity in Canada’s North into a reality, stated
AEM communications director Dale Coffin in a news release.
The moment AEM first acquired the Cumberland property in 2007, to its purchase of the nearby Comaplex site in 2010, AEM has had a “singular mission” – to develop mineral resources for the benefit of all Canadians, stated Coffin.
“Meliadine’s first pour was a proud day for Agnico Eagle, Nunavut and for Canada,” he stated.
“A new era is beginning and our journey in Canada’s North continues.”
The mine’s general manager, Martin Plante, told Kivalliq News a lot of people have worked on the Meliadine project since construction was announced in 2017.
He said the pour on Feb. 21 was the end-result and accomplishment of a lot of “very, very hard work” from a large number of people.
“This was a way of celebrating the project being on time and within budget, which is a big team accomplishment,” said Plante.
“So, the next step from here is for us to continue to operate and produce more,” he said.
“We expect to reach commercial production by the second quarter and then ramp-up to our capacity while continuing exploration to, hopefully, increase the long-term life of this operation.”
Plante said day-in-and-day-out operations at Meliadine will see close to 500 people on site, which means the mine will employ about 800 people overall.
He said AEM wants to eventually have Inuit make up 50 per cent of its workforce at Meliadine, or even higher.
“Right now we are below that, but that’s the number we are still aiming at,” he said. “So far, Meliadine has about a 14-year lifespan but we’ve already started to do some more exploration to look at extending the life of this mine.
“Hopefully, Meliadine will be in operation for decades and continue to provide positive economic impacts to the communities of this region.
“Right now, there is a lot of optimism over what the eventual lifespan of the Meliadine mine will prove to be.”
Plante said Meliadine already has Inuit employees from across the region on-board, including a supervisor from Arviat.
He said although he didn’t have a by-community list of current Meliadine employees, with the number of trips the Kivalliq charter is making every week, he expects all seven Kivalliq communities will soon have employees working at the mine, if that’s not the case already.
“Once we reach the pertinent production rate, we expect to pour about 400,000 ounces of gold per year right up until the end of the life of this mine.
“It’s going to be a very busy operation for many years to come.”