The Nunavut Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade minister's approval concluded the final step in the environmental permitting process and allowed the company "substantial development flexibility" to build the Madrid North, Madrid South and Boston mines at its discretion, the company said.
This included construction of a 55km all-weather road connecting all four mines, including the operating Doris mine, on the Hope Bay property.
"While 2018 has largely been about ongoing ramp up and implementing significant improvements to the Doris operations, in 2019 we balance optimisation of established operations with the initial steps of broader development of the Hope Bay Belt," CEO Jason Neal said.
He said the company was looking forward to initiating development at Madrid North with the potential for first ore to the Doris plant later this year and to start underground development.
The amended licence provides for the expansion of the existing Doris camp as well as the expansion of the tailings impoundment area from 2.5 million tonnes to 18Mt for Madrid tailings.
The Boston licence provides development alternatives beyond the company's established plans, permitting the construction and operation of a fully independent mine site including a new 5.1Mt tailings facility and ore processing plant, allowing TMAC flexibility to evaluate options for what it expects will be a growing ore resource as it intends to step-up exploration efforts at Boston.
The final permitting step represents the ‘cherry on top' for executing on the company's 2015 pre-feasibility study, while simultaneously increasing the water use thresholds for daily production and processing rates.
TMAC said its permitting strategy had also secured permissions to operate alternative wind power generation, to expand the port and included surface mining of the crown pillars at Madrid and Boston, like what was being implemented at the Doris mine.
The permitting milestone was met with meagre investor reaction, with the stock down 2.12% or C12c for on Tuesday to $5.55, adding to its 12-month decline of 49%. The $624.83 million company is worth less than half what it was a year ago.