The Goldex mine is part of the chain of operations and properties that Agnico Eagle owns in the Abitibi region of northwestern Quebec. Underground mining from the M and E satellite zones and processing in the mill started in September 2013. Commercial production was achieved in October 2013.
2015 production and costs
115,426 oz, $538/oz gold
Goldex, located 60 km east of the Company’s LaRonde mine, has proven and probable reserves of 0.7 million ounces of gold (12.9 million tonnes grading 1.61 grams/tonne gold). Reserves in the M, Mx and E Zones are estimated to support an underground mine through 2017, with average annual production of approximately 105,000 ounces gold. In July 2015, the Goldex Deep 1 project was approved, resulting in new D Zone reserves. The development of the Dx and D Zones will add another seven years of production at Goldex, beginning in 2018, using the same mining methods.
The Goldex property is located in the Dubuisson Township of Quebec and forms part of the southern Abitibi Greenstone Belt. The sequence of intermediate to mafic and ultramafic volcanic rocks that underlie the property dips steeply to the northeast. They are intruded by a large table-shaped quartz-diorite body – known as the Goldex Granodiorite – that also dips steeply to the northeast.
Goldex is a large, relatively low-grade body defined by the intensity of stockwork veins and gold grades rather than by individual veins. Most of the gold occurs as microscopic particles associated with pyrite, while the rest of coarse native gold grains. There are several zones of gold mineralization with isolated ore-grade intercepts over mineable widths on the property, and all of them except the South Zone are hosted by the Goldex Granodiorite. We are currently mining the M and E Zones, both of which contain gold-bearing quartz-tourmaline-pyrite veins and veinlets.
Commercial production of the Goldex M and E Zones was achieved in October 2013. The operation uses largely the same underground infrastructure as the original 2008 mine, but different underground mining methods and reducing the mining rate.
The M and E zones are mined using long-hole stoping in primary and secondary stopes – with a new ore and waste pass system – with paste backfill to ensure long-term stability.
In July 2015, the Deep 1 project was approved to develop the lower part of the Dx Zone and upper part of the D Zone for production beginning in 2018. The planned mining method is long-hole stoping with cemented paste backfill, the same method currently being used at Goldex. The mining rate for Deep 1 is expected to be approximately 6,000 tonnes/day. An automated conveyor system will be installed underground as part of the development.
The processing plant treats ore from the M and E Zones. Ore is treated using a two-stage crushing process, followed by a two-stage grinding circuit that consists of a semi-autogenous grinding (SAG) mill and a ball mill. Most of the ground ore is fed to a gravity circuit that recovers about two-thirds of the gold, which is then smelted on site to form doré bars. Flotation recovers the rest of the gold, producing a gold-bearing pyrite concentrate.
This concentrate is then thickened and trucked to the LaRonde complex, where it is fed to a cyanide leach circuit. Gold-bearing leachate is fed directly into the carbon-in-pulp circuit to recover precious metals, which are smelted into doré bars. In 2018, we anticipate that M and E Zone ore will be replaced by Dx and D Zone ore from the Deep 1 project.
In July 2015, the Company approved the Goldex Deep 1 project. The Dx and D zones are being developed between 850 and 1,200 metres depth, preparing for seven years of production beginning in 2018. In 2016, the Company expects to spend $1.0 million on 14,300 metres of exploration drilling, $3.3 million on 32,300 metres of conversion drilling and $0.8 million on 10,000 metres of delineation drilling.
We acquired the Akasaba West gold-copper deposit in 2014. Located less than 30 km from Goldex, it has the potential to create operating flexibility by utilizing extra milling capacity at both Goldex and LaRonde, while reducing our overall costs. Akasaba currently hosts initial probable gold reserves of approximately 141,000 ounces (4.8 million tonnes at 0.92 g/t gold and 0.52% copper) and an indicated resource of approximately 54,000 ounces (2.8 million tonnes at 0.60 g/t gold and 0.33% copper).
Permitting of the Akasaba West project is progressing at both the provincial and federal government levels with decisions on the permit applications expected in 2017. Based on an internal technical study, the Akasaba West deposit has the potential to produce approximately 20,000 to 25,000 ounces of gold and 8.5 to 10.0 million pounds of copper per year for four to five years. The average total cash costs on a by-product basis to produce gold are estimated to be approximately $400 per ounce. Capital costs (including closure costs) are estimated to be approximately C$50 million.