Global gold miner Agnico Eagle Mines has just published its 2022 Climate Action Report, the first released in connection with its Net-Zero by 2050 emissions target. President & CEO Ammar Al-Joundi states: “Our climate reduction strategy is integrated with our business strategy and revolves around three strategic pillars: performance; pipeline; and people.”
He adds: “We will focus on what we are good at, finding technical and innovative solutions to complex problems — namely employing technology to increase our energy efficiency, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and decarbonise our operations — and we will put the human and financial capital in place to align our actions with our commitments. Looking to the future, we expect that decarbonisation will be one of the key criteria through which any potential mergers or acquisitions will be made at Agnico Eagle.”
Agnico Eagle’s approach to addressing climate change has accelerated in recent years in keeping with the scale and urgency of the issue. In 2021, the Board of Directors approved Agnico Eagle’s commitment to achieve Net-Zero by 2050 and formal support of TCFD. It adds: “In 2022, we are proud to announce that a Net-Zero interim target of a 30% reduction in absolute Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 2030 (based on 2021 levels) has also been approved. Our interim emissions reduction target is defined as an absolute reduction in the amount of Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHGs emitted to the atmosphere from our operations in the target year, relative to the base year.”
In line with its Net-Zero ambition, the miner conducted preliminary modelling in 2021 and 2022 to enable it to define the key actions and goals needed for its 2030 interim target and Net-Zero transition by 2050 target. “Our modelling identified three primary areas of focus across all our operations — Energy Efficiency, Technology Transition, and Increased Renewable Energy, via both Agnico Eagle developed renewable energy solutions and through the shift to increased renewables expected on our public electricity grids.”
Energy efficiency solutions focus on identifying opportunities and reducing its energy use at the site level. “We measure our Scope 1 and 2 energy and fuel consumption on a monthly basis to communicate and evaluate site-level efficiency metrics. In 2021 and 2022, we conducted decarbonisation and energy mapping workshops for each site to identify potential reduction opportunities and help define the investments required.”
Projects identified include energy management systems, heat recovery systems, ventilation-on- demand projects, increased tyre pressure monitoring and various other energy efficiency initiatives. “The initiatives identified were prioritised for investment or further study based on their potential and alignment with our climate strategy. We currently expect a potential benefit of reducing 40 ktCO2e per year by 2030 across our portfolio from energy efficiency and optimisation projects.”
Looking in more detail at Technology Transition initiatives, these categorised as technology transition projects generally focused on electrification of material handling equipment and use of alternative and more sustainable fuel types. This includes implementing trolley assist at Detour gold mine, an increase in the use of BEVs where commercially available, and substituting a portion of diesel fuel use with renewable diesel or biodiesel fuel. It currently expects a potential benefit of reducing 150 ktCO2e per year by 2030 across its portfolio from technology transition projects.
On electrification, the company stated: “In Canada, our Macassa Mine in Kirkland Lake, Ontario, has been an industry leader in the adoption and utilisation of BEVs. Starting in 2011, Macassa was an early adopter of battery electric scoops and now utilises 22 scoops and six battery electric trucks. At our Detour Lake Mine in Northeastern Ontario, we recently completed conceptual studies of an autonomous haulage system and adopting a Trolley-Assist Haulage program for our haul fleet. The Trolley-Assist program showed positive NPV and ESG impact with a potential annual carbon reductions of up to 96 ktCO2e (which can be up to nearly a third of our expected direct emissions at Detour). Our Technical Services team is currently running a prefeasibility study to help us fully understand the benefits of bringing this electrification technology to Detour Lake.”
Agnico Eagle adds: “We are also trialling two of the first Sandvik battery electric loaders operating in the world at our LaRonde Mine in Cadillac, Northwestern Quebec and our Fosterville Mine in Bendigo, in the State of Victoria, Australia. Our Kittila Mine in Northern Finland, has been a participant in the Sustainable Intelligent Mining Systems project, under the European Union’s most extensive research and innovation program, Horizon 2020. Our role in the project has been to test three battery-powered mining machines, developed and manufactured by Epiroc, a Boomer E2 Battery drill rig, a MT42 Battery Minetruck and a ST14 Battery Scooptram.”
On reducing energy use at its sites, in Finland, Agnico Eagle has committed to the Energy Efficiency Agreement and the Kittilä mine team has developed energy-efficiency initiatives to reduce its overall energy needs and costs. For example, waste heat from the oxygen plant and processing activities is used to heat all of the mine site’s buildings, as well as its underground facilities. The site also automated its ventilation system to help reduce the use of liquid propane gas and electricity. “Our LaRonde complex in Quebec has introduced ventilation-on-demand at its LZ5 mine while opting for ventilation-on-planning at its LaRonde mine. While both are focused on reducing energy consumption for ventilation, the first allows for the management of underground ventilation remotely from the surface based on real-time needs, while the latter allows for the management of ventilation based on the weekly work plan. The complex also uses a heat recovery system at its new tailings filtration plant to heat the building during winter.“
At the Meliadine mine in the Canadian Arctic’s Nunavut territory, Agnico Eagle relies on diesel for energy and as such, it finds creative ways to efficiently use and re-use the energy produced onsite. For example, ultra-efficient generators produce power to run the process plant and other facilities. The exhaust heat from these generators is recovered through a heat exchange system which in turn is used to heat the camp facilities and the multi-service building where the maintenance shop and most offices are located.