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Wesdome excited about Abitibi’s ongoing potential

Aug 13, 2021

By: Kevin Vincent, Mining Life
Wesdome has been a quiet success story. “It’s really been a great adventure being a part of a company like Wesdome which is on the eastern part of the Abitibi and in the Wawa area to be on the western part of the Abitibi. It is definitely the same sort of setting,” said Duncan Middlemiss, President and CEO.
“The Kiena Mine (Quebec) which we’ve just announced the restart to, is really exciting and a big part of us becoming Canada’s next mid-tier gold producer. We have an existing asset in Wawa, producing close to 100,000 ounces a year and now we’ve got a positive pre-feasibility study at Kiena in which the board has approved to go ahead. We’ll start production quite shortly, the infrastructure is all there. It’s a historic property that was developed in the 80s and 90s and run by Placer Dome. We’re quite proud to be able to come to this juncture.”
Middlemiss says the proposition for Wesdome that has made them successful over the past five years is jurisdiction. He says the Abitibi is one of the world-class jurisdictions. The company’s production base is in Wawa, about 50 kilometers from town and the Kiena Mine is just outside of Val-d’Or, Quebec. “So quite frankly, I don’t think we could get in any better of a jurisdiction than what we are currently enjoying,” said Middlemiss addressing delegates of the Mining The Abitibi Virtual Conference hosted recently by Canadian Trade-Ex and Mining Life & Exploration News.
“We’re also blessed with high grade. The Eagle Mine’s has reserves of 13.4 grams. We just declared resources at the Kiena Mine at 11.9 grams, so we’re definitely blessed with some high grade here and I’d say both areas have a lot of exploration potential which we’re really starting to uncover.”
Wesdome has huge exploration budgets at both properties. “As I say, we love them equally. We’ve got 16 million dollars set aside for the Eagle River property in Ontario and 16 million dollars set aside for the Kiena property. So this by far is the company’s largest endeavour in the exploration field, ever.”
Middlemiss says jurisdictionally, it is low risk, but the company also has great existing infrastructure. At Kiena for example, the head frame and the mill are there. “We’ve already started the mill up to process bulk samples. So we’ve basically de-risked the Kiena Mine restart significantly by doing some of these events, everything is in good shape there. And we’re quite confident that production should start in the third quarter, albeit a lower amount than what it would get to in a couple of years, but certainly, it’s going to be contributing to the bottom line.”
When it comes to Wesdome’s management, the top personnel are part of the former St Andrew management team which Middlemiss was associated with until 2016 when they were sold to Kirkland Lake Gold.
Guidance at Eagle River this year is 92,000-105,000 ounces while costs are around $1,000-$1,100 US an ounce. Reserves are currently at about 581,000 ounces at Eagle River. Middlemiss says there’s a good resource base for the future and there’s over 300,000 ounces of combined high-grade mineralization.

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“The Kiena Mine, it really continues to generate some very exciting results for us, both on exploration, and through the technical study - we just see the robustness of the project and the kind of returns that we’re going to get here. And so right now, we view the pre-feasibility study as a base case we’re able to show everybody how we can do an average of 84,000 ounces, however, we all believe it’s going to certainly grow from there. This is a base case. You can see the reserves newly declared 600,000 ounces at almost 12 grams and a lot of resources on the property there to convert into reserves, so potentially a very good mine life and some really good upside here at both properties.”
Wesdome prioritizes local employment and procurement. 86% of the workforce at Kiena is local, while Eagle which competes heavily with other mines in the region is at 46% local.
“We have people coming from Rouyn-Noranda, all the way from Thunder Bay and Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury, so it’s a very large area as Wawa is a smaller community and certainly very demanded upon by what I would term as a fairly active mining industry going on there right now,” said Middlemiss.
“Throughout the pandemic, our employees have done fantastic. Our contractors and consultants have done fantastic. I always knock on wood when I tell people that we have not had one case of COVID which has impacted our operations. We’re very fortunate about that. We try to support all the communities we’re within. We donate to the Wawa food bank. We donate to the same programs in Val-d’Or, Quebec. We want to make sure that the communities are good.”
When it comes to procurement, jurisdiction plays a role once again. “When we look at the information from the Ontario Mining Association about every dollar invested into mining comes back four times. We see Timmins. We see Sudbury. We see Val-d’Or, Rouyn area. These are all fantastic mining centers, great for suppliers, expertise, everything that we need, we can find here in the Abitibi, so we’re very fortunate.”
To date, Wesdome has not had any environmental incidents. “As a matter of fact, for quite a while, governance, we’ve actually made the Globe and Mail, it’s called the 2021 Board Games. We’re within the top 20 highest ranking companies in materials, so a lot of the miners are in there. So we’ve certainly come a long way with, I would say, our shareholders expectations and how we manage the business, how we are accountable to everybody. According to Middlemiss, Wesdome is on the hunt for other opportunities. “We look around the Abitibi, and we always see these older properties that have lost some luster or they’ve been shut down, and then somebody has new ideas about how we might be able to find the next mine and certainly, we’ve been successful. And when I look at the Abitibi, we just see all the great mines here. The Upper Beaver from Agnico, that was a past producer of course, Kiena was. Macassa Mine, or look at the Dome Mine how long is that going on forever. There’s more to give here.”
“And I think with new ideas, and new theories, and the hundreds of millions of ounces which have been extracted and what is left to find - we’re very happy to be right here in the middle of the Abitibi. This is a great place to be.”

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