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IAMGOLD Côté Gold Project stays on track despite spring pandemic outbreak

Open-pit, accommodations camp development hits 18 per cent completion mark as pace of construction intensifies this year and 2022
IAMGOLD Cote camp aerial 3
(IAMGOLD photo)

IAMGOLD declares construction "on track" at Côté Gold open-pit gold mine project near Gogama.

The Toronto mid-tier miner provided a project update on May 3 in a release of its financial results and operating performance for this year's first quarter.

In a statement, company president-CEO Gordon Stothart seemed pleased with the pace of construction despite a coronavirus outbreak in March.

"At Côté, we started major earthworks ahead of schedule and have attained 18 per cent completion of the project at March 31."

The Côté Gold Project is located 130 kilometres southwest of Timmins and 200 kilometres northwest of Sudbury. IAMGOLD holds a 64.75 per cent majority ownership stake in the mine project through a joint venture with Sumimoto Metal Mining.

The mine's completion date is set for mid-2023.

To date, the company said there's been no interruptions to the project schedule due to the pandemic.

A project milestone was recorded at Côté with 1.24 million hours achieved without lost time as of March 31.

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The company said earthwork contractors continued work during the quarter on road widening, overburden stripping (removing the top soil to make an area ready for mining) and began work on water and tailings management facilities near the proposed pit.

Two Alberta companies - North American Construction Group and the Nuna Group of Companies - formed a joint venture partnership to handle the earthworks portion of the build.

Wood PLC, a Toronto engineering and consulting company, is handling the overall management services for the US$1.3-billion mine.

Civil works are underway at the plant site and concrete activities. Initial pre-stripping work for the pit begins in the second quarter, as planned, the company said. 

Temporary work camps are now fully erected and commissioned. Construction of the permanent mining camp is underway, to handle peak construction workforce requirements. About 50 per cent of the total number of rooms planned have been installed to-date.

A portion of the permanent camp will be commissioned during this year's second quarter to increase the current capacity on site. The camp will be fully commissioned by the third quarter.

IAMGOLD said its total project costs, since last July 1, is in the range of US$875 million to $925 million. The share of leasing is expected to be approximately $120 million.

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The remaining total costs to be spent include $319 million this year, $380 to $420 million in 2021 and $75 million to $85 million in 2023.

So far, Côté has an 18-year mine life based on gold reserves of 7.3 million ounces, plus 10.2 million ounces more in the measured and indicated category. More positive is expected later this year on extending the mine life. 

On the exploration end, the miner said delineation drilling continues at its Gosselin Zone, a potential satellite deposit located 1.5 kilometres northeast of the the Côté gold deposit.

Three thousand metres were drilled during the quarter with the goal of establishing a first-time gold resource estimate at Gosselin, due out later this year.

Some of the highlighted drill results include 417.3 metres grading 0.95 (grams per tonne) g/t of gold and 353.0 metres grading 1.04 g/t.

IAMGOLD has budgeted $2.8 million for exploration at Gosselin and other areas on the Côté property.

In March, there was a coronavirus outbreak at the construction camp. 

The company said additional steps have been take on the safety protocol front to detect cases before people reach the site, including antigen testing at the bus terminals in Sudbury and Timmins.

IAMGOLD's operating gold mines are Westwood, east of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec; Rosebel in Suriname, and Essakane in Burkina Faso. 

Besides the Côté Gold construction project in Canada, the company has another mine in the development pipeline at the Boto Gold project in Senegal, along with greenfield and brownfield exploration projects in North and South America and West Africa.