NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

New hope for Hope Bay
Private company to start reopening Doris North camp put on care and maintenance by Newmont

Thandiwe Vela
Northern News Services
Published Friday, March 22, 2013

Hope is being renewed at the gold-rich Hope Bay Greenstone Belt as the new owner of Newmont Resources Corporation's Kitikmeot region project kicks off a community tour.

NNSL photo/graphic

Private exploration and development company TMAC Resources Inc. has completed its acquisition of the Hope Bay Project put on care and maintenance by international gold producer Newmont Mining Corporation. TMAC is reopening the Hope Bay Doris North camp, shown here in the spring of 2011, located about 90 km south of Cambridge Bay. - photo courtesy of Hope Bay Mining Ltd.

Private exploration and development company TMAC Resources Inc. announced the completion of its acquisition of the Hope Bay Project from the international gold producer on March 14, after raising $50 million in financing and signing a memorandum of understanding with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association consenting to the transfer of all Hope Bay Project permits, leases and agreements to TMAC.

"That was a big milestone for us and that's why we wanted to go up to the communities as soon as possible after that. That was the critical milestone," said CEO Catharine Farrow. "It was important to immediately get on the ground and let the communities know that this has happened and just to put faces to names and get to know TMAC and the new opportunity at Hope Bay really."

Nuna Logistics Ltd. has been contracted to partially reopen Hope Bay's Doris North camp, located about 90 km south of Cambridge Bay, which was put on care and maintenance by Newmont last year.

"What we're going to try to do is, with a project that really was economically distressed, we're going to try to lever the infrastructure that's there and try to make it economically viable this time," Farrow said, adding that Newmont supports the long-term vision of developing multiple camps previously identified along the Hope Bay Greenstone Belt.

"It's a very exciting belt," Farrow said. "It's a very exciting project. But we believe that the future of Hope Bay is not just about Doris and maybe down the road Madrid and then ultimately Boston. We believe that Hope Bay as a belt could be a much longer-term gold producing camp for decades to come. That is our vision. It doesn't stop with Doris and Madrid, it continues, and is a viable producing environment in Nunavut for decades to come."

To that end, the company is planning to continue advanced exploration this year.

First Air has been contracted to fly supplies to Doris North for the program and more will be brought in during the summer on sealift.

The major milestone toward production will be the arrival and commissioning of the Hope Bay mill from South Africa, which is part of the deal with Newmont.

"We can't produce gold until we have that mill and that's why we have to get that mill up there," Farrow said. "So the current plan will be the mill comes up in 2014, and it's going to take probably nine months to a year once we get it up there to completely construct it. Then what we're looking at right now is to start production in the later part of 2015."

In order to raise financing for the mill completion, construction and move to production, the privately-held company is planning its initial public offering this fall, hoping to raise in the vicinity of $300 million, which will be a challenge given current market conditions.

"These are really difficult markets and raising the $50 million was very difficult. But people believe in the project," Farrow said.

A KIA official was not available to comment on Hope Bay last week but the Inuit organization recently threw its support behind TMAC in a news release, with president Charlie Evalik speaking on behalf of the board.

"We believe TMAC is the right company to unlock the potential of the Hope Bay Greenstone Belt," Evalik stated. "KIA looks forward to the Inuit employment and other valuable benefits resulting from the resumption of exploration and development at Hope Bay."

TMAC's tour of the region was scheduled to begin March 24 at the Kugaaruk Community Gym.

The contingent includes Farrow, TMAC president Gord Morrison, Newmont official Chris Hanks, who has been provided by the company to help with the project's transition to TMAC, Cambridge Bay-based manager of community relations Alex Buchan; an Inuit impact and benefits agreement co-ordinator; and a translator.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.