Agnico Eagle Mines highlighed a number of initiatives in its March quarter results as the company continues its ambitious growth plan to hit the 2 Moz production milestone in 2020.
The headline numbers might have disappointed investors – net income dropped to $37 million from $44.9 million a year earlier, on the back of lower gold sales volumes, realised gold prices and by-product revenue – but there was plenty to be excited about for the future.
Group output of 398,217 oz in the first three months of the year puts the company on track to achieve 2019 production of 1.75 Moz of gold (1.63 Moz in 2018), Agnico Eagle said, while the company’s Meliadine gold mine in Nunavut, Canada, was due to achieve commercial production next month. This is expected to be followed by the company’s nearby Amaruq project producing first gold in the September quarter.
On the technology front, Agnico reported on its communication infrastructure efforts at its deep LaRonde gold mine in the Abitibi region of Quebec, Canada.
Following the successful deployment of its LTE network at LaRonde Zone 5, the company deployed an LTE network at the LaRonde mine below level 269 in 2018. Extension of the network in the ramp area from level 269 to surface and at LaRonde 3 will take place throughout 2019, Agnico said.
“The LTE network facilitates the integration of automation technologies currently being tested at LaRonde Zone 5, which are expected to allow the company to maintain similar productivity levels at LaRonde 3 as it historically achieved in the shallower portions of the mine,” the company said.
And, on those automation trials at LaRonde Zone 5, Agnico said: “Integration and pilot testing of automated mining equipment (two trucks and one scooptram) continued in the first (March) quarter of 2019 and will be ongoing over the balance of the year.”
Last year, Agnico Eagle confirmed its ore sorting plans at its Pinos Altos operation in Mexico. This included the installation of a pilot plant at the mine.
The company said, in its March quarter results, samples will be processed from all of the orebodies at Pinos Altos and La India in 2019 to determine the merits of implementing the technology at its Mexican operations.
“To-date, sorting of open-pit ore from the Sinter deposit has yielded favourable preliminary results,” it said, adding that similar ore sorting pilot testing is being considered at the company’s other operating regions.