Metso Insights Case studies Mining and metals refining Metso replaces a 3rd Apron Feeder at Agnico Eagle Meliadine Mine
Jul 28, 2023

Metso replaces a 3rd Apron Feeder at Agnico Eagle Meliadine Mine

When it comes to reliability, Metso Apron Feeders are unmatched. After having two apron feeders already replaced with the Metso solution, the team at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine appreciates the economic, production, and efficiency benefits that the reliable apron feeders provide.
The apron feeder
Figure 1: 3D model of the third Apron Feeder designed for Agnico Eagle – Meliadine Mine complete with dribble conveyor, discharge chute and lump cutter to fit in existing space constraints.

Near the north-western shore of Hudson Bay lies the Agnico Eagle Meliadine gold mine. The site is located in the Kivalliq District of Nunavut, Canada, which due to its unpredictable and extremely cold temperatures, comes with its own set of challenges. Scheduling the transport of equipment to the site by both road and water is also very challenging, as the site must avoid early freezing of waterways in the lower Arctic region.

Agnico Eagle approached Metso in 2020 to replace the first of three originally installed apron feeders of a different brand at its Meliadine site after three years in operation due to their high operating cost. Following this first successful replacement with Metso’s high-quality, durable, and reliable apron feeder, the second apron feeder was replaced later that same year and a third one in 2022.

“The heavy-duty design remains the preferred choice of material handling for the mineral processing industry around the world,” says Robert Wakefield, Manager of Mineral Sales Canada at Metso. “This is why we were not surprised by Agnico Eagle’s request to replace their Meliadine paste plant apron feeder in June 2022 after it had just experienced a major failure.”

“Metso already had tractor chain style feeders successfully operating at another one of Agnico Eagle’s sites, enabling us to demonstrate the quality of our products and service,” says Marty Yester, Product Manager, Feeders at Metso. “When a customer’s satisfaction and confidence in Metso’s products is high enough to request more of our offering, it’s a true testament to the portfolio."

Photos of the apron feeder Metso supplied for the first two units.
Figure 2: Photos of the apron feeder Metso supplied for the first two units.

The initial implementation had yielded such remarkable results that Agnico Eagle knew they could trust Metso to perform another successful project.

The site reports a reduction of the equipment’s OPEX in the range of 83% to 92% over two years since replacing the initial feeders. These savings are primarily attributed to a reduction of major repairs and downtime, significantly reducing the average cost per ton after the Metso feeders were installed.
Photos taken during the manufacturing process.
Figure 3: Photos taken during the manufacturing process.

Though deemed another successful venture in their partnership, this project did not come without its challenges. There was a need for specific engineering, as Metso had to not only adapt its pre-configured AF8 to match the original product’s footprint, but also keep the same material discharge output to the downstream equipment.

Upon analyzing customer operational data, we noticed the original drive was not properly sized, leading to an operation at very low speed, where the motors were very inefficient for energy consumption,” says Henrique Oliveira, Engineering Manager, Feeders at Metso.

We worked together with the customer to optimize the drives, allowing the motors to operate at the speed where they are more efficient and reducing installed power by over 30%.

Currently, Metso is in the manufacturing stage to replace the third apron feeder design to meet the customer’s demanding application. The scope of the third apron feeder replacement expanded to include dual drives, a dribble belt conveyor, a discharge chute, and a lump cutter device.

Delivery is scheduled for August/September 2023, so the goods can be placed on the barge and shipped to the site before the freeze. Metso’s Apron Feeder technology keeps operations running smoothly by increasing uptime, efficiency, production, and sustainability, contributing to operational excellence at Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine.

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Metso Apron feeders
Apron feeders are a reliable solution for extracting or feeding ores that are wet, sticky, dry, or even frozen. Apron feeder's diversity can be found throughout the mineral processing circuit fitting different applications with robust designs and high uptime for a more efficient operation.
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