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Ottawa wants public feedback on Larder Lake gold mine project

Agnico Eagle sees gold and copper potential at former mine sites
Agnico Eagle Upper Beaver
Agnico Eagle's Upper Beaver Project site (company photo)

Agnico Eagle wants to build a gold and copper mine north of Larder Lake, near the Quebec border, and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada is inviting public feedback.

The agency said it has accepted the initial project description for the Upper Beaver Gold Project and wants the public and Indigenous groups to review the project description and provide comment. The agency will compile a summary of issues to present to the mining company.

The site is 20 kilometres northeast of Kirkland Lake and is just north of Larder Lake on a well-explored area with an extensive gold mining history.

This is the first opportunity to comment on the mine project. If the agency determines a federal environment assessment (EA) is required, the public will have more opportunities to comment over the course of the EA process.

Quebec-based Agnico Eagle's development plan is to operate both an open pit and underground mine with a on-site processing mill and tailings management facility. The maximum ore production capacity of the mine is 15,000 tonnes per day, said the agency, and 10,000 tonnes per day from the processing plant.

The proposed pit will be 100 metres deep and 300 metres in diameter, and will operate for only the first four or five years before operations head underground. The life of the mine is estimated at 16 years.

The company is tentatively aiming for a production start in 2026-2027 after completing more exploration work and going through the regulatory approvals process.

By establishing a pit, Agnico Eagle said it can mitigate some of the legacy environmental issues at the site.

A portion of the ore body is beneath a shallow portion of York Lake. Because of the instability of the rock, the mining engineers propose a water diversion measure to safely operate with a system of channels and dykes to divert 90 million cubic metres of per year from Beaverhouse Lake downstream to the Misema River.

Agnico Eagle said the diversion gives them the opportunity to clean up historic tailings and waste rock in and beside York Lake.

Impact Assessment Agency of Canada said written comments will be accepted until Oct. 4 and will be published online as part of the project file. The agency is also making funding available for the public and Indigenous groups to participate in the process. 

The Upper Beaver Project has some mining history. After gold was discovered near Beaverhouse Lake in 1912, the area was mined intermittently from three underground operations between 1912 and 1971. A total of 477,794 tonnes of ore were processed from the mines at the site.

The Upper Beaver is one of two deposits on the company's 25,506-hectare land package known as the Kirkland Lake properties. Agnico acquired full ownership of the property from Canadian Malartic in 2018.

Upper Beaver contains mineral reserves estimated at 8.0 million tonnes grading 5.43 grams per tonne and 0.25 per cent copper (1.4 million ounces of gold and 19,980 tonnes of copper).

Last year, Agnico performed 28,300 metres of exploration drilling on the property, mostly at Upper Beaver, and had plans this year to drill 36,500 metres at the mine project site to outline the pit parameters and to deliver an updated mineral resource estimate by the end of this year.

Elsewhere on the Kirkland Lake property in 2021, the company plans to drill 15,700 metres in a regional exploration program that will include its Upper Canada deposit.

People can learn about the project and the impact assessment process through virtual information sessions via Zoom. The agency will provide participants with details on how to submit comments on the summary of the initial project description. 

English Sessions:

Sept. 22, from 2-3:30 p.m.

Sept. 29, from 6-7:30 p.m.

French Sessions:

Sept. 21, from 7- 8:30 p.m.

Sept. 27, from 10-11:30 a.m.

The agency asks attendees to register on SimpleSurvey at least 48 hours prior to the session they wish to attend.

For more information on how to attend the virtual information sessions, please contact the Agency at UpperBeaver@iaac-aeic.gc.ca.