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IAMGOLD’s Côté Gold Project in Northern Ontario is on the move to production

May 3, 2023

Construction at Côté Gold, located halfway between Sudbury and Timmins just off HWY 144, began in the summer of 2020. Since that time Côté has undergone a remarkable transformation, with the project approximately 80% complete as of March of this year and on track to commence production in early 2024.  

The site is operating at capacity with over 1,500 workers at site and is expected to advance at a rate of 2% to 3% per month through the spring into the fall at which point focus will shift from mechanical completion to commissioning activities. The project recently celebrated over 9 million hours without a Long-Term Injury, which is a testament to the skill and dedication of the Côté Gold teams.



Côté Gold will be Canada’s third largest gold mine by production. It is a large-scale construction project that required the planning, coordination and execution by thousands of workers in order to move millions of tonnes of earth, fabricate and erect a 37,000 tpd gold processing plant, reroute the Mollie River and build a new lake as part of the creation of a new offsetting fish habitat. This project was advanced in an environment of COVID-19, inflation and global events that impacted supply chains, labour availability and costs of material, commodities and consumables. There were many lessons learned during construction and the Company is proud of the progress it has made. As the project nears the finish line and teams prepare for production, recruiting experienced and motivated workers is currently a significant focus for Côté. The Côté Gold mine will be a model for mining in Canada, requiring diverse skill sets within multi-disciplinary teams across the organization, offering exciting opportunities for growth.  


A Mine for the Modern Age



Côté Gold will be a major contributor to the region for a long time. It is estimated that the project will generate over $5 billion in wages through direct and indirect job creation and $10 billion in economic activity. Once in operation, Côté will require more than 450 permanent employees as well as more than 200 contractors on site at all times.  

Côté Gold is located on Treaty 9 Territory, on the traditional lands of Mattagami First Nation and Flying Post First Nation, and within the traditional harvesting area of the Abitibi Inland Historic Métis Community Metis Nation of Ontario (MNO), Region 3. Impact Benefit Agreements are in place with Mattagami First Nation, Flying Post First Nation and the MNO. These agreements provide tools for active participation in environmental management and opportunities for benefits, including employment and training, business opportunities, and resource revenue sharing.  

Côté Gold believes its presence should leave a lasting positive impact on its communities, from development and operations to closure and beyond. This is performed through active consultation, engaged partnerships, mutual respect, and community investments. During construction, about 14% of the workforce self-identified as Indigenous. Côté works closely with its partner communities to share employment opportunities and to optimize benefits and support positive lasting impacts of the Project.



Côté Gold will be the first open pit mining project in Ontario, Canada to have onsite autonomous hauling and drilling – meaning driverless trucks and driverless drills – complimented by manned loading and support equipment:  

• Epiroc Pit Viper 231 autonomous blasthole drill rigs will be deployed and able to move between holes on a pattern autonomously, improving safety and productivity.
• Loading will be done by two electric CAT6060 hydraulic shovels which are connected to the grid by a tethered cable, supported by a fleet of CAT 994 front-end loaders.
• Hauling will be performed autonomously by a fleet of up to 23 CAT793F trucks, monitored by operators in the AHS control room at the camp. Autonomous haul trucks provide significant efficiency gains with increased availability, reduced maintenance costs, and provide detailed operating data for further analysis and refinement.


Open pit autonomous hauling & drilling a first in Ontario


Cote Truck  


A major milestone was achieved this year with the first deployment of the autonomous trucks in January. Autonomous trucks utilize radar and high precision GPS guidance systems which can pinpoint the location of any part of the truck to within 4 centimeters. The loader operator, once ready, presses a button to call the autonomous truck to them, and the truck will drive itself to the exact spot required before moving the material to the appropriate destination (ore versus waste). To ensure the autonomous vehicles operate to plan, the project has installed a comprehensive and secure communication system around the pit. Accordingly, Côté is always looking for people skilled in computers and communication networks.  

The process plant incorporates a mix of traditional well-tested technologies with novel uses of established processes. The crushing and grinding elements are partially traditional (gyratory crusher, cone crusher and ball mill) as well as newer, yet well-established technologies such as High-Pressure Grinding Rolls (HPGR) and vertical mills. The gold recovery process is conventional with gravity recovery, as well as leaching (CIL) and Carbon-in-pulp (CIP).




Côté Gold currently has an estimated mine life of 18 years, but the Company firmly believes that Côté Gold is not just a project, but the start of a district with significant potential for mine life extension. The recent focus for exploration at Côté has been at the Gosselin deposit that is located immediately adjacent to the Côté Pit. In late 2021, the Company announced a maiden resource at Gosselin of 3.4 million ounces of measured and indicated and an additional 1.7 million ounces of inferred. Gosselin has only been drilled to half the depth of Côté and is open along strike and at depth. Approximately 17,000 meters of diamond drilling was completed in 2022, with another 15,000 meters planned this year to further delineate and expand the Gosselin deposit and test targets in the region. The Company is conducting the necessary environmental and mine optimization studies to understand how best to incorporate Gosselin into the Côté Gold life-of-mine plans.  

Looking beyond Gosselin, there is significant upside to be uncovered as there has been minimal historical exploration targeting these Côté/Gosselin-style intrusion-hosted deposits within the large 596 km2 land package.

Côté Gold is a Gold Sponsor of this year's Canadian Mining Expo and the Operations Manager, Francis Letarte-Lavoie, will be a special guest speaker (Presenting Côté Gold: Technology at The Root of Its Operations) during the Projects in the Pipeline Conference Luncheon held June 8th in Timmins. Drop by and visit the HR and Procurement staff at their booth on June 7-8 during the expo. 

For this article and more click on the front cover photo of Mining Life Magazine's Show Guide Issue:

cover pic










Tags: Northern Ontario / New Projects / Gold / All Articles