Unearthing Nunavut’s mineral potential still a challenge, say industry leaders (Nunatsiaq News – April 9, 2015)

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Nunavut’s mining future looms large on the horizon — but just how large?

If you ask Sean Boyd, the president and chief executive officer of Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., he’ll tell you Nunavut has lots of potential.

But to tap into this potential and be a good mine-builder, you need know-how, persistence and a long-term vision. “We’re very encouraged where we are right now,” Boyd told Nunatsiaq News. “We believe that we have the foundation, whether it’s a mineral deposit, physical infrastructure or people and skills to build a long-term business in Nunavut.”

But how to “unearth the potential” remains the question still facing many participants at the 18th annual Nunavut Mining Symposium in Iqaluit April 13 to April 16.

Boyd said last year marked a “turning point” on mineral potential for Agnico Eagle, which owns Nunavut’s sole operating mine, the Meadowbank gold mine near Baker Lake.

That turning point came with the discovery of the Amaruq deposit, 50 kilometres north of Baker Lake, where in one season of drilling, Agnico Eagle’s exploration team found 1.5 million ounces of gold resources, with double the grade of Meadowbank’s deposits.

And grade is “pretty much everything when you’re dealing with a remote location,” Boyd said.

That’s because a high-grade deposit gives you the added revenue necessary to manage costs of doing business in Nunavut, he said.

This year Agnico Eagle plans to conduct more drilling at the seven-km-long Amaruq deposit which could someday become an extension of Meadowbank, adding to the lifespan of that mine.

“That’s why we’re in Nunavut,” Boyd said. “It’s not just to build Meadowbank — our major focus is to find parts of the world where you have a lot of mineral potential.”

Agnico Eagle takes a multi-decade view in what’s undeniably a risky business, Boyd said, adding that Nunavut’s potential wouldn’t be realized if the company didn’t have diligent, competent people on the ground.

The company still needs to find more resources to make a call on the potential of its Meliadine gold project, 25 km from Rankin Inlet, he said.

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