MacLean Fleet purchased by Agnico Eagle for Meliadine mine in Nunavut will leverage clean burning technology to reduce ventilation energy demands
Mining in remote Nunavut is challenging on a number fronts, particularly when it comes to site logistics and provisioning. Equipment and other supplies needs to be barged to site during a small shipping window each year and, for that reason, onsite diesel-generated power is expensive to produce. As such, Agnico Eagle made the decision to go with Tier 4 engines for their fleet of MacLean production support vehicles at Meliadine (bolters, shotcrete sprayers and transporters, explosives loaders, and utility vehicles).
The MacLean fleet at Meliadine will be the first time that Volvo Tier 4 Final engines are integrated on MacLean units. The price premium for Tier 4 technology is easily repaid within two years of the initial investment in Tier 4 technology on mobile units in the low Arctic, where power generation costs are prohibitive and the use of cleaner burning and lower emissions Tier 4 Final Volvo engines means that a typical unit requires roughly half the ventilation of a Tier 3 build. For example, a MacLean diesel-powered 975 Bolter that would normally require 9,400 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of ventilation, following Natural Resources Canada’s CANMET regulations for mining, will now only require 4,800 CFM of ventilation.
The Volvo approach to Tier 4 technology is centered on the way that fuel is injected into the engine, to burn cleaner and produce less particulate matter, with the nitrogen oxide (NOx) produced in the diesel combustion process getting neutralized in the exhaust treatment via chemical dosing as opposed to a filter, as is the case in other Tier 4 Final technologies. (Using an exhaust filter design to trap particulate matter requires a periodic burn off that decreases the engine’s power and can interrupt a mobile mining unit’s duty cycle.)
The Rig: MacLean fleet at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine, with Tier 4 Final engines
The Project: Meliadine Gold Project, Agnico Eagle
Gold producer Agnico Eagle will soon be starting production at the company’s second mine in Canada’s arctic, in the Kivalliq region of eastern Nunavut. The site is not connected to an electricity grid and all site provisioning needs to happen in a short window of the summer months, when barging is possible.
MacLean is a strong believer in the transition of underground mining from diesel powered to battery electric propulsion, based on the associated air quality, energy efficiency, and lower maintenance cost benefits. As a result, the company is in the process of battery electrifying its entire product line, having already achieved some 10,000 operating hours from the current MacLean EV Series fleet working underground in Ontario to date. But during these transition years, there is a good business case in certain geographies to achieve ventilation savings via best-in-class Tier 4 technology.
A testimonial from John Botelho clearly speaks to the results of this custom solution request put to MacLean:
“In certain parts of the underground mining world, in remote areas that aren’t connected to a low carbon electricity grid, there is a need for ventilation reduction solutions in advance of the availability of full fleet electrification across the mining cycle. Volvo’s Tier 4 Final technology on the MacLean fleet going to Agnico’s Meliadine project in Nunavut, will deliver cleaner-burning, reduced ventilation operating conditions, with a payback on the initial capital investment of less than two years for the mining company. MacLean’s integration of this technology will help improve the working environment and reduce operating costs for mining in Canada’s remote far north.”