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Miramar: green light for Hope Bay

Doris North opening target early 2005

Norm Poole
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Jan 20/03) - Miramar Mining Corporation has announced plans to bring its Hope Bay gold project into production within two years.

The Vancouver company plans to move a modular camp and mill processing equipment to the site next summer. Mining at the Doris North deposit would start in early 2005.

An initial Doris North 'starter' mine would have a two-year life, produce 150,000 ounces of gold a year and employ 150 people with a local-hire policy.

The mine site is four kilometres from the coast near the company's Windy Lake exploration camp, just east of Bathurst Inlet.

Miramar made the announcement after receiving an independent feasibility report confirming the mine's economic viability.

The report contained "no surprises" and reaffirms the mine's potential for "high grade, high return, and low risk" gold production at Doris North, said Miramar vice president Brian Labadie.

The study is based on gold prices of $325 US per ounce. The mine can operate profitably at prices "significantly below that," said Labadie.

Gold is currently selling at more than $350 US per ounce.

Miramar is now seeking about $39 million in capital funding and expects no difficulty securing financial backing.

"We are in the process of talking to different institutions about financing the project."

The company will file a draft environmental impact statement for Doris North with the Nunavut Impact Review Board and Nunavut Water Board by the end of January.

That will initiate a formal review by the NIRB and NWB, including public hearings in local communities.

"We will also be initiating discussions with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association on the IIBA (Inuit Impact Benefit Agreement) and with the NTI (Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.) on the production leases."

Miramar hopes to have all required permits in place by this fall so that it can place major plant equipment orders by the end of the year.

Labadie said despite the short, two-year operating life of the startup mine, Miramar fully expects to be processing ore at Hope Bay well beyond 2007.

"The plan is to get up and running with a starter mine in the Doris North zone, generate some cash, then pull some of the other reserves into the mine plant."

Gold reserves in the broader Hope Bay belt are estimated at about four million ounces.

The Doris North plant will process an average 668 tonnes of ore per day, but is designed for 800 tonnes a day to accommodate any future production increases. The plant will be designed for a 10-year operating life.

Miramar is spending $17.5 million on Hope Bay exploration this year, including 43,000 metres of core drilling.