TMAC aims to revive mothballed western Nunavut gold mine project
"The Doris North project is expected to change status from care and maintenance in 2015"
Two years after acquiring the Hope Bay gold mine project in western Nunavut from Newmont Mining Corp.,TMAC Resources Inc.says it plans to bring part of the mine complex out of mothballs in 2015.
TMAC owners said last September that they wanted to see their mine at Hope Bay, located 120 kilometres south of Cambridge Bay on the mainland, operating by 2020.
On March 18, they told the Nunavut Impact Review Board that “the Doris North project is expected to change status from care and maintenance in 2015.”
That came in an update on a project certificate for the Doris North Mine, one of several sites on the TMAC property.
This new timeline is considerably slower than the first envisioned by TMAC in 2013, which promoted an “aggressive timeline” to get the mine into production in 2015.
Now the plan is to build a mine that will be “multi-generational” — that is, with more gold resources and a longer lifespan than the earlier forecast period of 10 years.
In their description of project activities and developments planned for 2015, TMAC said it plans to operate Doris Camp with a small crew until exploration activity ramps up for the season.
The crew is made up of fewer than 15 personnel responsible for keeping the camp in good working order while activities at the site are suspended between drilling seasons, TMAC said.
Surface exploration drilling activities at Hope Bay were completed in mid-November 2014 and are expected to resume in March 2015, the company said.
Aside from performing routine maintenance on camp buildings, personnel on site are also preparing sections of ice-snow roads for the upcoming drilling season. Flights into the site are occurring once a week and there is no helicopter support.
TMAC said the change in status from care and maintenance will flow from the start of underground mine development in September 2015.
This will be supported by the delivery of fuel and mining equipment on the 2015 sea lift, the company said.
TMAC moved to re-open the Doris North underground portal in 2015, worked on its plans for the mill and started a pre-feasibility study.
But while the facilities and potential of the Hope Bay mine appear solid, there’s a big problem: TMAC needs hundreds of millions of dollars to build the project.
TMAC has raised more than $100 million to continue its exploration activities, but a 2013 preliminary economic assessment of the project, said TMAC needs $651 million in capital to get the mine going.
They have raised $44.1 million, through a private sale of shares, to help pay for activities planned in 2015.
The assessment’s evaluation of the mine’s potential, which it said was “robust,” was, moreover, based on a high gold price of $1,350 US per ounce — but that’s now fallen to about $1,220 per ounce.
On March 19 the price was $1,163 US per ounce.
The project continues to have Newmont — which mothballed the Hope Bay in 2012, as a minority partner.