November 2006

Agnico-Eagle – constructing three mines

By H. Ednie

Overview of the Goldex site

Agnico-Eagle Mines Limited is positioned to triple gold production by 2009, and Quebec is the major hotbed of activity for the company. With three new mines under construction, within short distances from the company’s current operation, LaRonde, there is no time for rest.

Paul-Henri Girard, general manager for Agnico-Eagle in the Abitibi area, is proud of his people and their accomplishments. New gold mines at Goldex, Lapa, and LaRonde II are all on schedule to open within the next two years for Lapa and Goldex, and within five years for LaRonde II.


Construction of the Goldex mine is well advanced for production startup in 2008. At a capital cost of $135 million, this project boasts gold reserves of 1.6 million ounces, while the deposit remains open to the east and at depth. Estimated average annual production of 170,000 ounces at total cash costs of approximately $225 per ounce over a nine-year mine life positions Goldex as an important part of Agnico-Eagle’s future growth.

Work is ongoing at two locations on site. Shaft 1 is the old exploration shaft. From it, underground development is well underway, including the mining area,mucking, and ore levels.Also, a ventilation raise is being driven from level 36 to the surface. Currently, the ventilation system is approximately 50 per cent installed.

Already, approximately 2.5 kilometres of lateral development has been completed. Additionally, lateral development is ongoing at a rate of 400 metres per month. “The success at Goldex is largely due to utilizing our experienced and flexible workforce,” Girard said. “We transferred over 70 people from the LaRonde operation and we rebuilt old equipment, requiring that we purchase less new.”

Shaft 2 is a new site, where the surface plant is being constructed.To date, a 120 kW power station has been built, as well as a service building including an electrical distribution system, five 3,000 CFM compressors, and two generators – two compressors are already in use for shaft sinking.

The headframe for the planned 860-metre deep Shaft 2 is complete and the production hoist will be installed at the top within the next six months. A temporary sinking hoist is being used to speed up the shaft sinking now underway by Dumas Construction. As well, the Marian cage is installed.

The warehouse is completed and a building has been selected for the mill, while two bridges to the new tailings pond are being constructed. “The detailed engineering for the tailings pond and mill is underway,” Girard added. “By the end of October the mill building will be completed, to enable us to install equipment this winter.” The main components of the mill have been purchased with the SAG mill, flotation circuit,pumps, gravity circuits, furnace, and overhead crane ordered and awaiting delivery.

“Construction started about a year ago—we received the goahead in August 2005,” Girard said. “Goldex will provide around 200 jobs once in production in 2008.”

Goldex will be mined by an open stope method and mucked like a block caving operation at 6,900 tonnes per day using two scooptrams to work 35 to 45 drawpoints on the same level.“With eight to twelve million tonnes per block,we’ll blast like open stoping, and access four to six million tonnes on a single level,”Girard highlighted.“The ground condition is good, and all simulations for rock stress and ore drawing have been successful.”

Once the ore enters the mill, approximately 66 per cent of the gold is recovered in the gravity circuit. To recover the remainder, a sulphide concentrate will be produced too and sent to the LaRonde complex for leachable gold recovery.

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