Tuesday, October 15, 2019

YESAB rejects proposed placer mine

The Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board (YESAB) has recommended the government reject a proposed placer mine near Judas Creek, south of Whitehorse, citing “significant adverse cumulative effects to the Carcross Caribou Herd”.

The 45 claims overlap four tributaries of Judas Creek, 4.5 kilometres north of Jake’s Corner on the Alaska Highway, and about 80 kilometres southeast of Whitehorse.

The Yukon government has the final say whether to reject or accept the project.

Nunavut mine pit expansion awaits ministry approval

The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) has given a green light to the expansion of an open mine pit at Agnico Eagle mine Ltd.’s Meadowbank gold mine near Baker lake.

Vault Pit, located about eight kilometres northeast of Meadowbank, is one of three pits currently being mined on the Kivalliq site. Vault Pit will require significant work, including the dewatering of Phaser lake, an estimated volume of 700,000 cubic metres. Transferring the fish to another body of water is expected to begin later this year, if the project goes ahead.

Agnico Eagle hopes to extract just over 400,000 tonnes of ore from the expansion of the pit, in addition to the 29.8 million tonnes already approved for extraction from the Meadowbank site over its lifetime.

The NIRB’s hearing report and recommendation will be forwarded to the federal minister of indigenous and northern Affairs who will make the final decision on the expansion.

Agnico Eagle hopes to begin mining the new pits in 2017.

Jobs vs the environment debated

Despite the potential risks to Beverly and Bathurst caribou herds, muskoxen, wolverines, bears, seals, birds and fish, archaeological sites, and to the environment, residents of Nunavut communities taking part in the roundtable presentations about the Sabina Back River mine were interested in the expectation for more jobs from the mine.

65 people in the Kitikmeot region are expected to work at the mine during its four-year construction period and 194 will work there during the mine’s 10-year operating life.

Sabina’s plans for Back River include a chain of open pit and underground mines at its Goose property, 400 km south of Cambridge Bay and 520 km north of Yellowknife, which will involve filling, damming or draining lakes and streams, and building a road from the mine to a seasonal port facility and tank farm in Bathurst Inlet.

Community representatives questioned the mining company on its ability to deal with toxic mine tailings, dust emissions and traffic on the ice road, shipping through Bathurst Inlet, fuel storage safety, and fuel spills.

Sabina promised to accommodate caribou by closing down outside operations, like blasting, in its “phased” adaptive-management approach, if caribou cows and calves approach the mine site. But Sabina wouldn’t stop traffic on the winter road or forgo construction in July and August when Beverly caribou migrate through the area.

Sabina still needs to negotiate an Inuit impact and benefits agreement, land tenure and royalty agreements and get a water licence from the Nunavut Water Board and raise money for the mine’s infrastructure.

Jay pipe expansion approved

The Northwest Territories government has signed off on the Ekati mine’s Jay Pipe expansion that could help keep Ekati producing diamonds until 2033. The project approval includes conditions to minimize its impact on the environment, such as:

  • improving the design and use of the roads to minimize impacts to caribou;
  • minimizing dust from road use;
  • funding an elders group to advise on the construction, operation and monitoring of the Jay road;
  • ensuring clean surface waters at the Jay and Misery pits so the area can be used for aboriginal traditional uses after the Jay Project closes; and
  • preventing impacts to the Narrows.

Dominion Diamond hopes to start mining the Jay pit in 2021.

TMAC mine life could expand

TMAC Resources Inc. has announced that high-grade gold has been drill intersected at depth below the dyke at the Doris Deposit during the company’s ongoing underground drill program, located in the northern part of the Hope Bay Property in Nunavut. Management believes these results could significantly expand the current five-year mine life at the Doris mine and dramatically affect the global reserves and resources and annual gold production at Hope Bay.

The primary objective of the 2016 underground exploration program is to build on the existing Doris mineral resource base and continue to define mineralization below the diabase dyke. The current drilling program is focused on the Doris North BTD zones, following up on significant mineralization intersected in widely spaced drilling during previous drill programs from surface platforms. TMAC also plans to install and commission its mill and expand the power plant as well as stockpile ore and 55,600 ounces of gold.

The Doris North mine could begin operating in 2017 and see $61.8 million in jobs and contracts over six years.

Exploring business in Nunavik’s mining sector

Kuujjuaq’s Mining Workshop in April was an opportunity for nunavik businesses to hear how they can develop within the region’s mining industry. Makivik announced that it is restructuring their economic development department to hire new positions dedicated to supporting community-based business in the region to find work within the mining industry.

Three companies are expected to carry out exploration work in nunavik this summer:

  • Osisko Exploration James Bay Inc., a 30,000-hectare gold exploration project about 85 kilometres southwest of Kuujjuaq;
  • True North Nickel’s Qiqavik and West Raglan properties, located between Akulivik and Salluit, exploring gold and copper deposits east of Akulivik; and
  • Midland exploration’s Willbob property, 66 m southwest of Kuujjuaq, exploring gold and platinum group elements deposits.

Silver exploration program continues

In 2016, Alexco Resource Corp. plans to incorporate re-engineering and optimizing of the mine plans for the Flame & Moth and Lucky Queen deposits and update mineral resource estimates on Bermingham and Flame & Moth in Canada’s Yukon territory.

The company has planned a $3 million exploration program of at least 8,000 metres of surface diamond drilling at the Bermingham high grade silver deposit this year and has received the amended QML for the Flame & Moth deposit and expects a Water License amendment hearing to occur in the second quarter 2016.

Work continues on diamond project

Ground geophysical surveys and drilling are under way at the redemption diamond project in the Northwest Territories. Drilling is focused on the discovery of a kimberlite bedrock source to the South Coppermine indicator mineral train.

North Arrow, partner to Arctic Star Exploration Corp, is exploring the property under an option agreement under which North Arrow can earn a 55-per cent interest by incurring $5-million in exploration expenditures prior to July 1, 2017.

Gold claim won but on hold

Placer miner Darrell Carey has won a bidding contest for a group of 25 gold claims on the Midnight dome that overlooks Dawson City in
Yukon’s Klondike region.

Carey won’t be mining the Midnight dome, however, until he finishes working the Slinky Mine. Under an agreement with the territorial government, he has until the end of 2017 to mine the Slinky properties.

Metal mining impact to be studied

To make policy for Canada’s environmentally sensitive north, we need to study the impact of metal mining. A Wilfrid Laurier University research team has been awarded $550,000 from the natural Sciences and engineering research council (NSERC) Strategic partnership grants program to do just that.

Working across Northern Ontario and the Northwest Territories (NWT), the research team will determine the toxicity of metals and the influence of local water chemistry on the responses of the unique biota to metals in these environments.

The reliable determinations of environmental risk discovered through these studies will prevent unnecessary economic costs to Canada’s
natural resources sector and allow regulatory agencies to target resources more effectively.

The project is a collaboration between Wilfrid Laurier University, Université de Montréal, the Institut national de la recherche scientifique, Natural Resources Canada, Centre d’expertise en analyse environnementale du Québec, Environment Canada, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the International Zinc Association and Avalon Rare Metals inc.