The ribbon was cut. The price of gold hit an all-time high. And the Meadowbank gold mine was declared open on Friday, June, 18, 2010.
This is Agnico-Eagle‘s $700-million foray into mining in the Canadian Arctic. Meadowbank is also the only mine currently operating in Nunavut, and it is the first to be developed on land belonging to the local Innuit community.
Everyone involved in the project took some well-deserved pats on the back, starting with chairman James Nasso, vice-chair and CEO Sean Boyd, president and COO Ebe Scherkus and so on through senior management down to mine manager Denis Gourde and the 180 employees at the site, over half of whom are members of First Nations.
As usual, Agnico did not stint on the event. Over 200 guests were flown from Ontario and Quebec to the ceremonies. The food, even on the charter flights, was above and beyond. The luncheon was positively decadent. Any meal that begins with a glass of champagne with gold flakes floating in it is off to an excellent start. In fact, if there was a theme it was golden: gold-coloured chairs, waiters with wide gold ties, golden cider from Quebec, and gold dust in the dessert.
At the start of the meal when Boyd addressed the guests and employees, he noted that the price of gold had hit an all-time high that morning, reaching US$1,260/oz. I thought that was a fitting coincidence for a mine that will probably expand in short order.
Most importantly, Agnico and the Innuit elders of Baker Lake appear to have formed a partnership of true equals. There is a exceptional amount of respect on both sides. The Innuit treat the company as trusted stewards of their land, and the company offers a profitable future for the younger generations of the Arctic community.
As COO Scherkus said to CMJ, “The Arctic does get under your skin. I love it. It’s a place we hope to be for a long time.”
The Arctic holds countless treasures for a partner such as Agnico-Eagle, and the company is looking forward to many years and more projects in the far north.
Coming in the August 2010 issue of CMJ: A technical report on the new Meadowbank gold mine. Don’t miss it.