QUEBEC AGNICO-EAGLE MINES of Toronto has awarded the contract to sink a 2,700-ft shaft at the Lapa gold project just east of its LaRonde mine in the Abitibi region. The design calls for a 16-ft-diameter, concrete-lined shaft completed by the first half of 2006. That will provide access for an underground diamond drilling program.
The $30-million underground exploration will include taking a 15,000-ton bulk sample for metallurgical testing. One aim of these tests is to determine whether the frequency of coarse visible gold is sufficient to justify an increase in the reserve grade closer to the uncut grade. Positive results from this exploration program would result in an extension of the shaft to a depth of approximately 4,500 feet.
Incremental capital costs to bring the project into full production after the bulk sample are currently estimated at approximately $80 million. Assuming no further additions to reserves, Agnico-Eagle is planning an eight-year mine life with full production levels by late 2008 of approximately 125,000 oz of gold per annum at cash operating costs of approximately US$175/oz.
The Lapa property has probable resources of 4.66 million tons grading 0.25 opt Au. There are also indicated and inferred resources totaling about 1 million tons and containing about 173,000 oz of gold. Between 1937 and 1943, the Lapa mine produced almost 50,000 oz of gold.
Longitudinal diagrams of the Lapa deposit are posted at www.agnico-eagle.com.