IQALUIT, Nunavut (Reuters) - Here are some of the main exploration projects in the giant Canadian territory of Nunavut, listed by company:
AGNICO-EAGLE MINES LTD
The only mine operating in Nunavut now is Agnico-Eagle’s Meadowbank mine in south-eastern Nunavut, which officially opened in June 2010. It has proven and probable reserves of 3.5 million ounces of gold and is expected to produce on average 350,000 ounces of gold per year, over a nine year period.
Agnico-Eagle also has high hopes for the nearby Meliadine property and has committed $130 million over two years in exploration and development. Meliadine has reserves of 2.6 million ounces of gold.
Baffinland — owned 70 percent by ArcelorMittal — is proposing to invest C$4.1 billion ($4.2 billion) on a 149 km (93 mile) railway and two ports to exploit the huge Mary River iron ore deposit in the northern part of Baffin Island. It will also commissional special fleet of cargo ships. The mine is slated to produce 21 million tons of very high purity ore a year for 21 years.
France’s Areva has identified three uranium deposits at Kiggavik in south-eastern Nunavut. These would support a 17-year mine-life based on annual production rate of approximately 2,000 to 4,000 tonnes of uranium in the form of yellowcake. Some local Inuit, alarmed by the Japanese nuclear reactor disaster this year, are worried about possible environmental risks and their resistance could drag out an already lengthy approval process.
MMG owns Izok Lake and High Lake, two properties in western Nunavut which between them have reserves of copper, zinc, lead, silver and gold. MMG plans a substantial drilling plan at Izok Lake this year. The firm notes that a key challenge to successfully developing the deposit is moving the concentrates to market from this remote part of Canada with little infrastructure”.
The 80-km (50-mile) long Hope Bay property in western Nunavut contains three gold deposits with a total potential reserve of up to 9.0 million ounces. Newmont, which plans to spend $310 million on Hope Bay this year, has invested around $2 billion so far.
A joint venture between Peregrine and BHP working at Chidliak, some 120 km (75 miles) northeast of the Nunavut capital Iqaluit, has discovered more than 50 diamond-bearing kimberlite rock formations, seven of which have characteristics that are consistent with economic potential in Arctic settings.” It plans to spend $18 million this year on exploration.
Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes, a subsidiary of China’s state-owned Xinxing Pipes Group Co Ltd, has created a joint venture with Canada’s Advanced Explorations Inc to develop an iron mine in Roche Bay, eastern Nunavut. Xinxing says it will invest $20 million to complete the mine’s feasibility study, a further $30 million upon completion of the study and fund up to $1 billion for the development of Roche Bay. Advanced Explorations says Roche Bay could produce 1 million tonnes of iron nuggets a year and should be able to pay off its initial capital cost of around $1.1 billion within the first five years.
In June 2011, Xstrata unit Xstrata Zinc bought the Hackett River property in western Nunavut, which has promising reserves of zinc and silver, from a junior mining firm. It also bought part of another property in the far west of Nunavut. Xstrata said it would spend C$50 million on exploration and complete a feasibility study on both properties within four years.
(Note, sums are in U.S. dollars unless otherwise noted)
Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Claudia Parsons