Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited

05/14/2024 | News release | Distributed by Public on 05/15/2024 09:23

LaRonde Complex Wins 2024 Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) Environmental Excellence Award

Agnico Eagle's LaRonde Complex has been awarded the 2024 Towards Sustainable Mining® (TSM) Environmental Excellence Award by the Mining Association of Canada (MAC). This prestigious award recognizes companies that go above and beyond in their efforts to implement innovative sustainability projects that focus on environmental stewardship. Agnico Eagle is proud to be a co-recipient, alongside Rio Tinto.

Since its inception in 1988, the LaRonde Complex had been utilizing slurry tailings deposition, reaching maximum storage capacity over the years. Seeking additional storage space became imperative, leading to the launch of a transformative project. The transition to filtered tailings management was aimed at addressing environmental concerns, while also ensuring operational efficiency and community well-being.

A comprehensive comparative study conducted by a dedicated task force assessed various storage approaches, considering operational, investment, and rehabilitation costs. The transition to filtered tailings emerged as the most viable option.

The transition to filtered tailings represents a paradigm shift in mining practices. Notably, the LaRonde Complex stands as the first Canadian mine to complete the transition of stacking tailings on top of slurry beaches inside of existing tailings storage facilities, thereby minimizing its environmental footprint.

Key innovations include the utilization of waste rock between the filtered tailings and the slurry beaches to reinforce them. This process eliminates the need for costly ground improvement measures. Additionally, a storage basin was built to store process water and manage rainfall, eliminating the need to store large quantities of water in the tailings pond, and thereby reducing associated risks.

Stakeholder engagement emerged as a driving factor of success with this project, with Agnico Eagle actively involving community representatives and regulatory bodies throughout the project lifecycle. This collaborative approach fostered transparency and ensured that sustainability goals were aligned with local concerns and regulatory requirements.

Improved cost management highlights the economic viability of filtered tailings management, with estimates suggesting significant savings in rehabilitation and disposal expenses. In addition to reducing the overall risk profile for the site, there are several ways that filtered tailings could be repurposed. For example, they could be used to facilitate the reclamation of the old tailings storage facility and enhance progressive rehabilitation, or as backfill material of potential future satellite deposits in the area. These tangible outcomes reaffirm Agnico Eagle's commitment to sustainable and responsible resource management.

While each mining site presents unique challenges, the success of the LaRonde Complex project underscores the potential for broader applicability. By considering operational costs, as well as rehabilitation and environmental factors, mines worldwide can explore similar transitions to filtered tailings management.

LaRonde Complex's award-winning initiative exemplifies a holistic approach to sustainable mining practices. Through our commitment to environmental stewardship, community engagement, operational efficiency, and the continuous improvement and optimization of our mining and reclamation techniques, Agnico Eagle once again sets a precedent for the mining industry, while also working towards a more sustainable future.

Click here to read the full media release from the Mining Association of Canada.