Automation efforts at Agnico Eagle Mines’ LaRonde complex in Quebec, Canada, continued to accelerate in the March quarter of 2020, with the company adding an automated production drill for testing at the LaRonde mine.
The complex, which includes the underground LaRonde mine and the LaRonde Zone 5 underground operation, has been testing out autonomous mucking and loading equipment for over a year.
In its March quarter results – which saw the company report a quarterly net loss of $21.6 million despite group production growing to 411,366 oz (from 398,217 oz a year earlier) – the company said it was evaluating an expansion of the mining rate to 3,000 t/d (previous guidance of 2,800 t/d) at LaRonde Zone 5. This followed an increase in daily tonnage in the most recent quarter thanks to continued productivity improvements and successful automation implementation (autonomous mucking and hauling).
Agnico also said automated mucking and hauling had already exceeded the target of 15% of 2020 tonnage in the March quarter alone.
The company said: “In 2020, the company will continue to test and refine automated mining techniques at LZ5. The goal is to increase the tonnage mined remotely to greater than 15% of the total tonnes mined in 2020. During the first quarter of 2020, LZ5 achieved the goal of exceeding 15% of total tonnes mined remotely and achieved a new daily record with 2,200 t/d mined with the automated fleet.”
At the LaRonde mine, meanwhile, the company said it continues to test automated equipment at the operation, explaining that, during the March quarter of 2020, the company began testing an automated production drill.