Environment

2017 Highlights

Our Environment Stories

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Environment

We aim to eliminate, minimize and mitigate the impacts of our operations on the environment and maintain its viability and its diversity. To achieve this, we:
  • minimize the generation of waste and ensure its proper disposal;
  • minimize risks associated with managing tailings and water;
  • manage waste rock and overburden to ensure environmental protection;
  • implement measures to conserve natural resources such as energy and water;
  • implement measures to reduce emissions to air, water and land, and to minimize our footprint;
  • implement measures to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and consider the effects of climate change;
  • integrate biodiversity conservation and land use planning considerations through all stages of business and production activities; and
  • rehabilitate sites to ensure long-term physical and chemical stability and in consultation with nearby communities in a timely manner.

AWARDS & CERTIFICATIONS

United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

Agnico Eagle is working to achieve progress on a set of goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. These 17 goals – known as the SDGs – focus on ending global poverty, protecting the planet and ensuring prosperity for all. Click the icons to read more about our activities.

We focus on limiting our environmental impacts by using natural resources efficiently, by preventing or limiting emissions and by reducing waste. Each of our operations is required to identify, analyze and manage its environmental risks and to work in a transparent manner with local stakeholders, building a foundation of trust and cooperation.

Energy Use
Our annual electricity consumption from the grid increased by 2% to 960 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2017 from 942 GWh in 2016. This increase was mostly due to increased production at Pinos Altos.

Our annual electricity production in 2017 increased to 154 GWh from 149 GWh in 2016. La India was required to produce more electricity for an increase in water pump use, crushing and grinding related to the processing of more tonnes of ore.

Overall, the total amount of electricity used both from external grids and generated onsite increased by approximately 2%, from 1,091 GWh in 2016 to 1,114 GWh in 2017. This overall increase can be attributed to increased production and development at our various mines.

Total diesel fuel use increased from 104.8 million litres (ML) in 2016 to 110.3 ML in 2017. Of that quantity, 71.4 ML (65%) were used for mining equipment, 38.5 ML (35%) were used for power generation, and 0.4 ML (<1%) were for other uses.

Mining at Meadowbank accounts for 63% of the total diesel fuel used. In 2017, Meadowbank had a 6% increase, from 65ML in 2016 to 69ML of diesel used because of an increase in mined tonnes and further distance for hauling ore. La India also had an increase in diesel use related to more power generation required and a 30% further distance for hauling ore and waste rock.

Diesel fuel usage per tonne of ore processed increased by 5% overall to 5.20 litres from 4.95 litres in 2016. In 2017, the quantity of diesel fuel used increased for Meadowbank and La India as both mines were mining more rock due to a lower than expected ore grade, however, the amount of ore processed remained similar to 2016.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions
We calculate direct and indirect greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on a monthly basis and report them annually to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) both in tonnes of GHG (CO₂ equivalent) and in intensity, which is the amount of tonnes of GHG (CO₂ equivalent) per tonne of ore processed.

Total direct and indirect GHG emissions were 414,654 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent in 2017, a 4% increase from 2016. The increased emissions are linked to the increase in diesel consumption previously mentioned.

In 2017, total direct GHG emissions increased slightly compared to 2016. Total direct GHG emissions were estimated at 335,518 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent from all sources – including fuel used to generate power, fuel for mining vehicles, natural gas for heating, and explosives used in blasting at our operating mines. This compares to 325,922 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent in 2016, which represents an increase of approximately 3%.

Total indirect GHG emissions were approximately 79,136 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent in 2017, as compared to 74,488 tonnes in 2016, which represents a 6% increase. This increase is mostly related to an increased tonnage of ore processed at Pinos Altos.

Our average GHG emission intensity (tonnes of CO₂ equivalent per tonne of ore processed) for all of our operating mines increased by 3% from 0.0189 in 2016 to 0.0195 in 2017. This is due to an increase in hauling distance.

Water Management
In 2017, the total fresh water withdrawn by Agnico Eagle from all sources was 6.416 million m3 (Mm3), a 6% increase from 6.059 Mm3 in 2016. In 2016 a new environmental permit was received for Kittila which allowed the mine to increase their fresh water intake for the operation for a more stable autoclave recovery. In addition, La India completed the second phase of their heap leach expansion which involved the use of additional water as compared to 2016 amounts.

Our total water use was 0.3 m3 per tonne of ore processed, up from 0.29 m3 per tonne in 2016, which represents a 6% increase.

Effluent Discharge
In 2017, the total volume of effluent released to the environment from all of our mining operations remained the same as compared to 2016 levels – at 11.8 Mm3. In 2017, Pinos Altos increased their effluent discharge to 1.1Mm3 from only 25,000 m3 in 2016. This was the result of underground dewatering quantities exceeding the needs of the mines and mills with the lateral extension of the drawdown as the mine got deeper. The increased effluent at Pinos Altos was offset by an 84% decrease in effluent discharge at Lapa as the mine slows down for closure (less water usage).

Water discharge intensity also remained the same as 2016, at 0.56 m3 per tonne of ore processed in 2017.

Waste and Tailings Management
Mining by its nature generates large volumes of waste rock and tailings – this is especially true for gold mining where ore grade is expressed in grams per tonne.

In 2017, the total ore tonnage processed both through our milling and heap leach facilities was approximately 21.2 Mt, similar to 2016. The tonnage of ore stored on heap leach facilities was approximately 8.4 Mt, as compared to 8.2 Mt in 2016. The total amount of tailings produced by the milling operations was approximately 12.8 Mt, as compared to 12.9 Mt in 2016.

From the 12.8 Mt of tailings produced in 2017, approximately 2.8 Mt or 22% were returned underground as backfill. The remaining tonnage of 10 Mt was deposited on surface at our different tailings storage facilities. This compares with 10.4 Mt in 2016. In 2017, Agnico Eagle’s mining operations generated 44.7 Mt of waste rock compared to 50.9 Mt in 2016.

The Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights are not a stand-alone entity and need to be integrated throughout all our business processes. The principles tie together many of the elements within our Responsible Mining Management System (RMMS).

Permitting

In 2017, our operations continued to work in a transparent and cooperative manner with authorities regarding environmental matters. This approach has allowed us to build credibility and trust with regulators as we seek to obtain new permits or permit renewals. We recognize, however, that this trust is built on the application of a rigorous approach to environmental management at our existing sites. We will continue to actively engage with authorities to ensure that we understand their requirements and expectations, as we seek to advance any future permitting processes. 

Nunavut Operations

Meadowbank mine: Public hearings for the Whale Tail pit, part of the Amaruq project, took place in September 2017 with a positive decision from the Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) rendered on November 6, 2017. The Project Certificate is expected for 2018 after the approval of the decision by the federal Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Kittila mine: In 2017, a permit application was submitted for the construction of a new tailings impoundment area (NP4) located north of the actual Tailings impoundment area (NP3). Also, a permit application for a new water pipeline discharge was submitted to the authorities. These two permits should be received in 2018.

LaRonde Zone 5: The Certificate of Authorization needed for the construction and the operation of the Zone 5 underground mine were received in 2017. The commercial production of Laronde Zone 5 is expected in Q3 2018.

Goldex mine: Goldex continued to collaborate with the Quebec Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources on the management of the Manitou site. The ramping up of production at Goldex, and the development of new zones, have been instrumental in improving our ability to deliver tailings to Manitou to be used for the rehabilitation of this site.

Akasaba: The Akasaba project, a satellite open pit project located 30 km from the Goldex mine, worked its way through an environmental assessment process under the Quebec Bureau des Audiences Publiques en environnement (BAPE) a provincial requirement, and also with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA). The BAPE issued a positive decision in June 2017 and a decree is expected from the Government of Quebec in Q2 2018. The CEAA continues its evaluation.

2017 Performance