Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. [AEM-TSX, NYSE] said Thursday March 19 that it is sending home employees from two gold mines in Nunavut. At the present time, the company said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Nunavut or at any of Agnico-Eagle’s global operations.
The company said it is working to ensure the health of local residents in the communities in which it operates. Senior management from Agnico are meeting Thursday with representatives from Rankin Inlet, Baker Lake, the Kivalliq Inuit Association, the Government of Nunavut and others to review the company’s Pandemic Plan.
Agnico-Eagle said it is basing its guidelines on and is following the advice of the Public Health Agency of Canada and the different provincial and territorial governments with respect to the COVID-19 virus.
As part of an effort to protect the people of Nunavut, Agnico-Eagle has decided to send home its Nunavut-based work force from the Meliadine and Meadowbank operations as well as the exploration projects for a period of four weeks.
All Nunavummiut workers currently on site will be returned home and those that are currently off-site will not return. These employees will continue to receive their remuneration during this period. In addition, Agnico-Eagle will be meeting with its Nunavut contractors to discuss similar measures involving their Nunavummiut workers. Agnico-Eagle said it plans to continue operations at both Meliadine and Meadowbank with the remaining workforce. “This is a rapidly evolving situation and the company will reassess the situation on an ongoing basis,” the company said.
On Thursday, Agnico-Eagle shares rose 5.1% or $2.64 to $54.53. The shares are currently trading in a 52-week range of $43.25 and $86.39.
The Meadowbank open-pit gold mine is located in the Kivalliq District of Nunavut, approximately 300 km west of Hudson Bay and 110 km by road north of Baker Lake. Meadowbank was Agnico-Eagle’s first Low Arctic mine. The discovery and development of the Amaruq satellite deposit 50 km away has extended the life of the Meadowbank Complex by supplying a new source of ore to the existing Meadowbank mill.
The Meadowbank complex is expected to produce 245,000 ounces of gold this year.
The remote Meadowbank Mine camp, with recreational facilities, can host more than 500 employees. The Amaruq camp can host another 350.
The 100%-owned Meliadine property covers more than 80 km2 of greenstone belt and has been developed as an underground and open pit mine in 2019.
It is Agnico-Eagle’s second major project in Canada’s Low Arctic, and is located in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut, about 25 km north of Rankin Inlet and 290 km southeast of the Meadowbank Mine.
Having reached the commercial production stage in mid-May, 2019, Meliadine is expected to produce 350,000 ounces of gold this year. The company has said mining at Meliadine will be carried out through several underground mining operations and open pits over the next 14 years, at least.
The main Meliadine camp consists of 12 wings of modular trailers that can accommodate 546 personnel. As well, the older exploration camp 3 km away on the shore of Meliadine Lake can accommodate up to 144 personnel.