CALGARY — A plan to spend $1.7 billion over the next seven years to develop the Odyssey underground mine to extend the life of the Canadian Malartic Mine's open pit operation in western Quebec has been approved by its owners.
"One of Canada's largest underground gold mining projects will come to fruition right here in Malartic," said Serge Blais, general manager for Canadian Malartic, in a news release.
"The future mine's life is expected to extend until 2039 and operations could continue well beyond that, given the deposit's significant potential."
Work on surface infrastructure including an exploration ramp began in December at the location about three kilometres east of the town of Malartic, said the joint venture owned by Canadian miners Yamana Gold Inc. and Agnico Eagle Ltd.
It said it has the green light to construct a shaft estimated to be 1,800 metres deep and process the resulting ore at Canadian Malartic's existing plant.
Initial production is expected in 2023 from the underground ramp but shaft sinking to access higher-grade underground deposits is expected to continue until the end of 2028, said Agnico Eagle in a separate news release.
"We anticipate it becoming the largest underground gold mine in Canada based on annual production," said CEO Sean Boyd on a Friday conference call.
The mine is expected to produce an average of 545,400 ounces of gold per year at total cash costs per ounce of US$630 starting in 2029.
Over an expected 17-year mine life, total payable gold production is forecast to be almost seven million ounces, Agnico Eagle said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2021.
Companies in this story: (TSX:AEM, TSX:YRI)
Dan Healing, The Canadian Press