Advanced Exploration & Studies Phase

The results from our preliminary exploration activities at Upper Beaver have encouraged us to explore further to evaluate the possibility of moving forward with the development and production phases.  The Advanced Exploration and Studies Phase will allow us to evaluate the project and confirm its feasibility.

During the Advanced Exploration and Studies Phase we will:

  • conduct metallurgical testing to confirm Upper Beaver’s mineral value
  • validate mining and geological factors
  • conduct underground drilling to confirm the geological model and ore body in the deposit’s deeper levels
  • confirm the mining/ore extraction methods
  • validate the preliminary cost and economic viability of a possible mining project

The Advanced Exploration and Studies Phase will include the development of a ramp and/or shaft to access the underground workings.  This access will help us collect bulk samples in different parts of the ore body – which we will use to test and confirm the metallurgical properties of the ore body – and conduct additional exploratory drilling.

Prior to any development, restoration and closure plans, as well as financial assurances, will be filed with provincial authorities for the Advanced Exploration and Studies phase[1].  For more information on the closure plan and rehabilitation activities, click here.

Small Footprint: The Advanced Exploration and Studies Phase will have a small physical and environmental footprint because:

  • the exploration shaft will be in same location as one begun in 2012 by a previous owner
  • the existing Upper Beaver Road will be used to access the project
  • there will be no mill or tailings facilities on site

Click here to view a preliminary plan of the expected site infrastructure during the Advanced Exploration and Studies Phase.

[1]  Every advanced exploration and mining project is detailed in a closure plan filed with the Ministry of Northern Development and Mines. Companies and individuals must report how their activities comply with provincial standards protecting the public and environment, and they must guarantee that funds are available to return lands to a natural state upon completion of exploration and mining activities. Provincial mining inspectors ensure compliance with the closure plan through audits and site inspections throughout the life of the mine. For further information click here.

Expected Start & Timeline Status:

We are currently in the process of obtaining all necessary permits for this phase. Our goal is to begin the Advanced Exploration and Studies Phase in 2022-2023, subject to receiving all required government permits and internal approval. We anticipate this phase to take place over a period of four to seven years, depending on the results of sampling and drilling programs.

Project Approval & Construction Phase

The Project Approval and Construction Phase only begins once advanced exploration confirms the project’s feasibility, permitting and approvals for the mine development have been received, and a closure plan is approved.

Based on the Initial Project Description, we have developed a preliminary site layout and preliminary list of activities to be conducted at Upper Beaver during the Project Approval and Construction Phase.  Please click here to view the preliminary site layout.


  • Initiation and completion of engineering study(ies)
  • Corporate decision to proceed
  • Development and implementation of environmental protection and monitoring plan(s) for construction
  • Ongoing engagement and consultation
  • Application for, and receipt of environment-related permits
  • Hiring of individuals and contractors, and procurement of material and equipment
  • Mitigation for heritage resources and other effects, if/as needed
  • Upgrade of the access road to site and installation of culverts/bridges as needed
  • Additional land clearing and implementation of erosion and sediment control measures
  • Excavation and grading as needed
  • Movement of construction materials to site
  • Construction of new site facilities and/or expansion of existing facilities
  • Development of compensation features as needed
  • Construction of Misema River diversion and stabilization
  • Activation of Misema River diversion
  • Transfer of fish from York Lake and dewatering the lake subsequently to support pit development
  • Stripping of overburden and initiation of open-pit mine development
  • Establishment of water management and treatment works, including ponds, waterlines and treatment facilities
  • Expansion of mine waste management facilities as mine development proceeds

Timeline Status:

Our goal is to start the Project Approval & Construction Phase in 2025, subject to receiving all required permits and internal approval and the successful completion of the Advanced Exploration & Studies Phase. We anticipate this phase will take approximately two years to complete, again depending on the receipt of all necessary permits and approvals.

More information on the Project Approval and Construction Phase will be provided once information is available.

Production Phase (Mining)

Agnico Eagle is planning to develop, operate and eventually reclaim a new open pit and underground, gold and copper mine and processing facility at the Upper Beaver project site.  The proposed underground and open-pit gold-copper mine would operate year-round on a 24-hour basis.  Based on the proposed processing rate[2] – of ~4,000 to 6,000 tonnes per day – and current information regarding the ore body, the life of mine could extend to approximately 14 years.

Agnico Eagle will continue to evaluate opportunities to add other ore sources and extend the life of mine.  In order to reduce the environmental footprint and impacts, we will utilize and expand upon and/or modify historical underground facilities and workings.

Underground mining

Ore will be extracted from stopes, i.e. underground rooms, by conventional drilling and blasting and will be transported to surface, either by trucking up a ramp or by means of a shaft, for crushing and processing in onsite facilities.

Mineral waste (non-ore mine rock) associated with the mine development will be reused to backfill the mine as practical.  Excess mine rock that cannot be reused underground immediately but cannot be retained underground, will be stored on surface in a stockpile.  The rock may be returned underground as needed for support, reused as aggregate if warranted by rock geochemistry, or will remain on surface and be reclaimed in place.

Open pit mining

Upper Beaver is mainly an underground project that was initially planned to be developed by ramp and shaft only (underground development).

However, to address a rock stability issue at surface related to the historical underground development, Agnico Eagle is proposing an open pit mine that would operate for only the first four to five years of the project.

The stability issues potentially extend near and under York Lake, which means there is a possibility that a connection could develop between the lake and the old underground stopes – meaning that a breach could connect the workings with the lake and flood the mine.

In order to address this risk in the safest, most reliable way, the Company plans to develop a small pit (100m depth/300 m diameter) that will intersect York Lake at surface but avoid Victoria Creek to the west and the Ava Lake to the East.

Agnico Eagle is confident that the proposed solution will allow for safe operations. This approach will also provide an opportunity to rehabilitate other historical legacies in this area, such as mine rock and tailings in York Lake and near the Misema River system.

[2] The mining rate will be confirmed through ongoing engineering and design activities.

Timeline Status:

Our goal is to start the Production Phase in 2028, subject to receiving all required permits and internal approval and successful completion of the previous phases. We anticipate the life of mine could extend to approximately 14 years, with opportunities to add other ore sources and extend it further.

More information on the Production Phase will be provided once the information is available.

Closure & Rehabilitation Phase

In accordance with best practices, Agnico Eagle integrates closure considerations early in our operations, planning and engineering processes.  We are committed to rehabilitating our sites to ensure long-term physical and chemical stability, in consultation with nearby communities and in a timely manner. Learn more about our approach to closure and rehabilitation in our Sustainability Reports and our Sustainability Stories and Videos.

Every advanced exploration and mining project must provide a detailed closure plan which is filed with Ontario’s Ministry of Energy and Northern Development and Mines (ENDM).

These plans must detail how Agnico Eagle’s activities during both the Advanced Exploration and Production phases at Upper Beaver will comply with provincial standards protecting the public and the environment.  Additionally, we must provide a financial guarantee[3] to the government before the start of any construction activities.  Provincial mining inspectors ensure compliance with the closure plan through ongoing audits and site inspections throughout the life of the project.

Agnico Eagle has already submitted a Closure Plan and a Financial Assurance to ENDM for the Advanced Exploration Phase, which are currently under review.  A new Closure Plan will also be submitted for the Production Phase of the Upper Beaver project, which will include all additional components that will come with this phase.

Advanced Exploration Phase Closure and Rehabilitation

A Closure Plan was filed with ENDM in 2012 by a previous owner.  Following Agnico Eagle’s acquisition of the Upper Beaver project, we made changes to the project description and scenario, submitting a Notice of Material Change in July 2018.  We also recently submitted a Closure Plan Amendment to the Advanced Exploration Closure Plan (2012) that includes new infrastructure such as: shaft, vent raise, portal, rock storage facility, buildings and water management facilities.  The Closure Plan Amendment includes an updated progressive rehabilitation plan and an updated closure cost estimate for historic features and new infrastructure.

Mine hazards will be rehabilitated in accordance with the Mine Rehabilitation Code.

Production (Mining) Closure and Rehabilitation

There is still work and studies to be done to confirm what the final closure conditions will be for Upper Beaver, but the land restoration will meet the standards of the Rehabilitation Code of Ontario.

At closure, our preliminary plans (subject to change and/or approval) include reclaiming all the remaining historical legacies on site.  We will also secure all openings to surface, remove or dismantle all buildings, infrastructure and equipment, remove all chemicals and hazardous material and revegetate the disturbed area.  For the closure of the pit, engineering work will be required to confirm the best closure option, but Agnico Eagle’s intent is to let the water go back into the pit, remove the dams, and bring back the flow in the natural pathway of the Misema River system.

All general site access and haul roads, which will not be required for the long term will be scarified (broken up), and revegetated when no longer needed to support final reclamation, long-term site management and environmental monitoring.  The road established for access to the boat launch will be left in place for continued use.

We will provide our preliminary plan to reclaim the site for comment during the Impact Assessment process.  In addition, a detailed regulatory Closure Plan will be required before any construction starts for the mine.

As the footprint of the Upper Beaver project site is small, it is expected that the active phase of reclamation of the project will be completed in less than one year after operations cease.  Environmental monitoring – physical stability, surface water and groundwater and biological monitoring – will continue after reclamation is completed.

[3] The financial guarantee is returned only when the ministry has evidence that all rehabilitation work outlined in the closure plan has been performed and meets the minister’s satisfaction following an inspection of the site.

Timeline Status:

With an approximate 14+ year mine life, we anticipate the closure and rehabilitation phase could begin sometime beyond 2042, subject to the success of ongoing exploration activity in the region.

More information on the Closure and Rehabilitation Phase and Plan will be provided once approved by ENDM.

How Will the Site Evolve?

Advanced Exploration Site Layout

This section provides an overview of the preliminary facilities and infrastructure expected to be constructed during the different phases of the Upper Beaver project. These are added gradually throughout the project development phase and dismantled gradually during the closure and rehabilitation phase. The primary facilities and infrastructure listed below are based on the current preliminary design and are subject to change with additional engineering and approval.

Buildings and infrastructure planned during the Advanced Exploration phase include:

  • Offices (already there)
  • Mine dry
  • Mine surface opening (ramp and shaft)
  • Hydro line (already there)
  • Transformer station
  • Rock storage facilities
  • Overburden pile
  • Pump house
  • Water treatment facilities
  • Septic system and domestic water
  • Fuel tanks
  • Ditches
  • Explosives storage area

Interactive Map

Photos shown with the interactive maps are only shown as examples and are not the actual facilities that will be on site.

Production Site Layout

Additional buildings and infrastructure to be added for the Production phase include:

  • Open-pit
  • Misema River diversion channel and dams
  • Mine rock storage facility
  • New overburden stockpile
  • Process plant
  • Crushing facilities
  • Crushed ore dome
  • Tailings storage facilities (filtered tailings)
  • Paste backfill plant
  • Tailing collection ponds
  • Cottager bypass road
  • Core shack

Interactive Map

Photos shown with the interactive maps are only shown as examples and are not the actual facilities that will be on site.